A Shark Tank-style competition in Northeast Ohio could turn your entrepreneur dreams into reality

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Posted at 9:56 AM, Jun 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-10 10:29:21-04

CLEVELAND — A Shark Tank-style pitch competition in Northeast Ohio is hoping to help folks with good ideas turn them into real businesses.

The mspire competition, hosted by local nonprofit MAGNET, is for entrepreneurs in Northeast Ohio who have an idea for a physical product.

The competition is entering its 4th year. The deadline to apply is June 30.

Last year, there were 50 applicants, 15 finalists, and five winners.

Prizes include one fully subsidized $20,000 project, $5,000 cash award from Bank of America, and much more.

MAGNET also helps finalists with marketing, engineering, and other resources.

“We’re just inviting anybody who is in the process of building a new business and that could from be an idea on a napkin and they're excited to tell us about it, to having a physical product they’re ready to sell,” said Brandon Cornuke, vice president of startup consulting at MAGNET.

News 5 sat down with past winners Russell Horner and Lisa Oswald, who took their ideas and turned them into successful businesses in less than a year.

Horner created the game Battle Toss, which is a mix between corn hole, beer pong, and Connect 4. The product has a patent pending and has been sold in nearly every state in America and even overseas.

By day, Horner is a CPA and licensed private investigator. By night, he builds Battle Toss.

“I wish I would’ve did it 40 years ago,” Horner said. His advice for an aspiring entrepreneur? “You really have to go for it.”

Oswald and her husband created Bud’s Resin Remover, which removes resin from plants and is marketed toward the growing cannabis industry.

“We’d never launched a product before, certainly not start to finish,” Oswald said. “So definitely if you’re willing to listen, learn, and put the time in, it’s certainly attainable.”

To apply for the mspire pitch competition or to learn more, click here.

The event is open to any entrepreneur or small business with an innovative product idea in the 21 counties of Northeast Ohio, including: Ashland, Ashtabula, Carroll, Columbiana, Crawford, Cuyahoga, Erie, Geauga, Huron, Lake, Lorain, Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Richland, Stark, Summit, Trumbull, Tuscarawas, and Wayne.