Deadline approaching for Small Business Competition

There’s still time to apply for the 4th Annual Small Business Competition, Hands Up Lake County. The deadline to apply for a chance to win from $5,000 to $30,000 is May 31.

From the total pool of applicants, twenty will be selected to attend a 1-day workshop and mini competition. Eight will be selected to advance to the final competition on Oct. 15, 2023, at the Soper Reese Theatre where cash prizes totaling $120,000 will be awarded in two categories, startup and established businesses.

Building the local economy a few small businesses at a time is the goal of 1Team 1Dream, the nonprofit that puts on the annual business competition. The competition is part of Maryann Schmid and Olga Martin Steele’s vision to help develop strong, local businesses in rural Lake County.

“We are volunteers working to raise the economic outlook of the county by supporting small businesses and local entrepreneurs with a cash boost,” Steele, Chair of the nonprofit, says. “Small businesses are the backbone of rural economies, local small businesses or business hopefuls are encouraged to apply.”

Maryann Schmid likes to remind those who have applied in the past, but did not make it, to apply again.

“I love to tell the story of “Grillagan’s Island owners Nick and Nicole Gentry. They applied and did not make it on their first try. The next year, they applied again and won,” said Schmid. “The Gentry’s are a prime example of the kind of commitment it takes to make it in business.”

In 2022 Grillagan’s Island won a 3rd place cash award of $15,000 plus the fan favorite award of $1,000.

“The Gentry’s overcame obstacles most of us can’t imagine,” said Clearlake City Manager Alan Flora – one of the first supporters of the non-profit. “They started with a tent based out of Clearlake and are now serving their signature grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup – and more – from a prime location on highway 20 in Lucerne.”

Although the cash prizes are generous, the competition focuses on more than just awards. The training focuses on how to develop a business plan with an emphasis on financials, marketing, management, and contingencies to weather the inevitable ups and downs in the marketplace.

“The competition was an amazing experience and journey for me,” says Valerie Ann Stallings, owner of Send Rover on Over, the 2nd place and fan favorite award winner in 2021. “It’s amazing how they help small businesses and lift them up, she said. Today, I have more business than I can manage.”

“You may not win first time around,” says Schmid. “But you’ll learn a great deal in the process and who knows – you may well win the next time around – like Nick and Nicole of Grillagan’s Island.”

Apply online at and for more information contact Olga Steele at 916-849-8170.

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