Downtown Springfield
Photo: Bill Lackey
Photo: Bill Lackey

‘We want to make dreams come true’: Springfield Hustles competition offers cash, free storefront to winner

Local entrepreneurs have a chance to win $76,350 in prizes through a, “Shark Tank,” style competition in Springfield.

The, “Springfield Hustles” competition will award a storefront in downtown Springfield’s COhatch building and other services to launch a business —for free to the winner — in addition to $10,000 in cash.

“Accounting, legal work, design work, business planning, one year paid rent, all kinds of stuff,” said one of the competition’s creators, Blake Shaffer. “We are hoping to give them everything they need to make a business successful in its first year.”

Shaffer, who is also an entrepreneur and owns LWS Tax & Accounting in Springfield, said the competition came about after a discussion with some other Springfield entrepreneurs.

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“We really wanted to build an ecosystem for people to come together and work on something. So we thought, ‘lets do something crazy,’” Shaffer said. “That’s when we started making calls.”

Shaffer and others managed to get over 10 sponsors involved in the project within a week, and from there, Springfield Hustles was born.

“We hope that it inspires a bunch of people to take the risk and make the jump,” Shaffer said. “We are hoping to spark between 10 to 20 businesses in downtown Springfield in coming years. We want people to get involved in this and say, ‘I really want to do this.’”

Around 40 participants have entered the competition, Shaffer said, but he is hoping to see at least 100. Participants are allowed to live outside of the Springfield area.

“If you want to bring a business to downtown Springfield, we welcome you,” Shaffer said.

After the deadline to enter the competition closes on Saturday, participants will then have two months to complete a business plan.

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“The first deadline is just for people to say, I want to raise my hand and I want to be considered,” Shaffer said.

Participants will then work one-on-one with an expert, for free, to create a business plan, Shaffer said. Of submitted business plans, eight will be selected to move forward to be presented to a group of, “sharks.”

“We haven’t decided who our sharks are yet. We want it to be a pretty diverse group and we want to include some members without opinion formed so we can have a fair competition,” Shaffer said.

While the competition sounds too good too be true for an inspiring business owner, it’s not, Shaffer said.

“We just want to help make dreams come true,” Shaffer said.

Those interested in applying for Springfield Hustles can do so on their website, springfieldhustles.com.

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