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 By Erica Pennington

Whether interested in showing off the first prototype of the next big thing or launching a business venture, entrepreneurs will flock to area Fastpitch competitions over the summer.

Launched locally in the Rockford area six years ago, the Stateline Fastpitch competition has expanded into Wisconsin this year, with events being hosted in the counties of Rock, Walworth, Racine and Kenosha. “We’re really excited this year to be able to work with our partners in Wisconsin and help to bring Fastpitch competitions into their areas,” said EIGERlab Marketing Director Sherry Pritz.

Fastpitch competitions take place across the United States and give entrepreneurs a chance to have their ideas heard — and possibly win some cash — if they can win over the judges with a verbal presentation in three minutes or less.

The action will come to the Stateline Area at Blackhawk Technical College’s Central Campus, located between Janesville and Beloit, beginning at 3 p.m. on Aug. 8. ompetitors in the Rock/Walworth County competition can register in one of two contest tracks — one for students and one for non-students — with respective $2,500 and $5,000 prize packages up for grabs. here is no fee to enter. Rock County 5.0, UW-Whitewater and Blackhawk Technical College are organizing the Rock/Walworth competition in cooperation with EIGERlab.

The Stateline Fastpitch competition first came to the Rockford area after representatives from the EIGERlab, a state of the art mixed-use business incubator in Rockford, heard about the idea while in Chicago at a conference. “Fastpitch helps us to find clients, and helps us to potentially help people who are interested in and able to grow their businesses,” Pritz said. “In the end, it should help to create jobs.”
1Since its inception, the Rockford Stateline Fastpitch competition has continued to grow. Though participation fluctuates, there are usually 40-60 individuals who present their ideas each year.

Pritz says the contest has drawn people from around Illinois and from states as far as Minnesota in the past.

“Anybody can participate, there does not have to be a business already started,” she added. “It can be an idea on a napkin or we can even help design a prototype if those interested talk to us at the EIGERlab.”

The process for competing in the Stateline Fastpitch competitions is a simple one. After registering, participants gather and are given three minutes to present their idea to a panel of three judges using only verbal skills.

Following the conclusion of the initial presentations, the judges convene to choose the top 8-10 presentations.

“While the judges select the semi-finalists we have a mini expo where the participants are given part of a table and can show off their ideas and network,” Pritz said.

After the finalists are chosen, they give a second presentation during which they can clarify their ideas to the judges.

The winner of the Stateline Fastpitch competition in Rockford will receive $5,000. Second and third place finishers will receive respective $1,000 and $500 prizes. There are separate prizes for a student category. Last year’s first place winners were Dan Nicholson and Erek Benz, of Position Tech, a Chicago-based company that was founded in 2008 and produces specialized football cleats. econd place went to Jason Beck, of Wet Will-E Water Balloons, Inc., a Rockton-based business that ships pre-filled water balloons for parties around the nation.

Want to participate?

Register to enter the June 20 Stateline Fastpitch Rockford contest, visit

To sign up for the Aug. 8 Rock/Walworth County Fastpitch competition visit .

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