City of Austin to offer innovation prize for reuse endeavors

[Re]Verse Pitch CompetitionThis press release was originally posted on austintexas.gov

October 19, 2015 - The City of Austin will award $10,000 to a social entrepreneur this year who can turn raw materials into a viable enterprise.
 
The first-ever “reverse pitch” launches Nov. 3 with an open call for social entrepreneurs to hear pitches from local businesses and nonprofits that have raw materials up for grabs.
 
The [Re]Verse Pitch Competition, a new social innovation program, helps turn valuable raw materials that are currently leaving local businesses, nonprofits, and institutions as waste into the foundation of new social enterprises.
 
“Entrepreneurs are accustomed to pitching their business idea to investors, partners and anyone they might share an elevator ride with. In this competition, the tables will turn. The entrepreneurs will get to hear the pitch and determine what they want to tackle,” said Natalie Betts, the mastermind behind the “reverse pitch” concept, who holds a hybrid position with the City working for both Austin Resource Recovery and the Economic Development Department.
 
Unique positions held by Betts are part of the City’s strategy to rethink how we deliver government services and support zero waste businesses and entrepreneurs.
 
“Today, we cannot effectively repurpose reusable materials in a silo. We also want to consider economic feasibility, creating jobs and many other factors,” said Austin City Manager Marc Ott. “The [Re]Verse Pitch Competition brings together great minds and opportunities to get real about turning trash into treasure, in collaboration with our most valuable resource – our citizens.”
 
The main events are free and open to the public. RSVPs requested:

Opening Pitch: Nov. 3, 2015, 6-8 p.m. at Vuka, 411 W. Monroe St.
Organizations pitching by product materials to entrepreneurs as business opportunities include Goodwill Industries of Central Texas, Recycled Reads, Travis County and BuildASign. Watch their videos describing what each has to offer.

Final Competition: Dec. 9, 2015, 6-8:30 p.m. at Bass Lecture Hall, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, 2300 Red River St.
[Re]Verse Pitch finalists to compete for the Innovation Prize.

The public and anyone interested in participating in the competition should RSVP here.
 
Winners will be selected in December by a panel of judges and with participation from the Austin community. Judging will be based on the business venture’s viability, sustainability impact, economic impact, and social impact, along with how effective the entrepreneurs delivered their pitch.
 
The entrepreneurs will receive guidance as they formulate a business plan and test their concepts for viability.
 
“A challenge prize is something new for Austin. We’ve seen their use by various governments across the country as a way to leverage limited resources, collective intelligence and draw awareness to a specific issue. So, I’m excited to see how our community responds and we’ll take away valuable lessons learned from the Reverse Pitch for future challenge prize opportunities," said Austin Chief Innovation Officer Kerry O’Connor.
 
The [Re]Verse Pitch Competition is a collaboration between the City of Austin, U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development, Impact Hub Austin, and the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service with additional support from a wide variety of community partners. 
 
“Challenging and enabling entrepreneurs to work with hard-to-recycle materials is a key step in the evolution to a circular economy in Austin – one where locally generated waste becomes the new engine for creating value,” said Daniel Kietzer with the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development.