It seems like any crowded networking session – more than 100 people crammed into a small room in a Georgian townhouse in central London, free-flowing wine and beer and strangers introducing themselves amid a babble of conversation. But this is actually a real-life version of TV show Dragon’s Den (or Shark Tank as it is known in the US), and the four nervous finalists are waiting to find out which of them will be walking away with £3,000 of investment and – most importantly – the ability to say they are the 2013 winners of a competition called Pitch to Rich. Trying to become a successful entrepreneur has never been more fashionable and thousands of new business competition schemes like this have sprung up around the world.
For while business start-ups of the past went to work to try to make lots of money, today they seemingly all want to also be award-winning. The prize money and advice will be very useful, but you can’t put a price on the publicity we should get” And there are plenty of opportunities – Harvard University in the US has the New Venture Competition, South African Breweries has its KickStart scheme, and in the UK there is the Growing Business Awards. The list is almost endless. But why are would-be entrepreneurs so keen to enter such competitions, and how do the organizers benefit?
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