The McAllen Chamber of Commerce offers the following programs to attract, retain and encourage inventors and entrepreneurs to successfully launch their ideas to market:
THE I&E NETWORK MEETING
A networking event for inventors and entrepreneurs that meets every fourth Thursday of the month from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. Every session participants discuss individual project accomplishments and road blocks on moving their projects to market. Fellow colleagues are asked about suggestions or lead to overcome the obstacles presented. Then, the group gets a break to connect with others inventors, entrepreneurs or representatives of local resources. The last part of the meeting is devoted to a presentation by an expert on a topic relevant to the road map of getting your idea or business off the ground.
The Competition is a great occasion to polish and/or prepare your elevator speech to a potentially business opportunity. A grand prize of $ 250 will be awarded to the best elevator speech, a $ 150 to the second place and $ 100 to the third. As part of the grand price, the McAllen Chamber of Commerce will donate all the collected entry fees ($15) to the winner’s chosen local non-profit or charity.
INNOVATION GRANT AWARDS
The McAllen Innovation Grant Awards is a visionary grant program designed to encourage product innovation and business creation in the McAllen trade area. An applicant may request up to $10,000 to establish, expand, develop or advance a Basic Business product idea. The McAllen Innovation Grant Awards is a competition, and awards will be made on the basis of the strongest and most potentially viable ideas, as well as the best presentation.
THE MCALLEN BUSINESS PLAN COMPETITION
The McAllen Business Plan Competition is an initiative sponsored by the McAllen Chamber of Commerce and the McAllen Economic Development Corporation to foster new business development in the McAllen Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA). A prize of $7,500 will be awarded to the applicant that presents the best and more feasible business plan. The competition is for new, independent, for-profit ventures in the seed or start-up stages in the McAllen area.
The IdeaPlace is an initiative of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce to help innovators develop their ideas, explore and define “the customers”, and look at market space and market categories. During the session, entrepreneurs will explore where the money is, what your competitive advantage is, and who is on your team or should be. This process will help the innovator have a greater understanding of what the idea is and how it can work.
TechPlace is an open collaboration concept with workspace for start-ups and pre-launch ideas. A key commitment behind Tech Place is to develop an eco-system that fosters idea, resources, and access. Part of the eco-system is a culture that is comfortable with chaos, ambiguity, and failure. In other words, at Tech Place you have permission to fail. The key is to be a learning enterprise that adopts and changes with each new iteration.
VirtualPlace is a program designed for small businesses. For a small flat fee, participants will be able to have unlimited use of physical space, a local phone line and a mailbox where they can receive mail and packages. Physical open space can be found at the McAllen Creative Incubator located on 601 N. Main Street. Participants are granted unlimited access to “The 3rd Place on the Second Floor” and “TechPlace”. This is a great opportunity for people who want to start their own business at a low cost.
THE LATINA HOPE NETWORK
LatinaHope Network is a component designed to facilitate the learning, networking and acting of Spanish speaking micro-entrepreneurs that have a new business idea or a small business and want to move their venture to a more tangible point. Participants are required to participate in three training session and present a business plan as part of the application process to grants and competitions. The program is conducted in Spanish.
MCALLEN FOOD TRUCK PARK
The Food Truck Park s designed to assist food entrepreneurs in achieving their first goal of developing food concepts. The food Truck Park will allow them to test the market place for a very reasonable price. The program is designed to help small independent food entrepreneurs.
THE CROWDFUNDING CATAPULT
The Crowdfunding Catapult will help innovators develop their crowdfunding campaign. Crowdfunding is asking a crowd of people to donate an amount of money for a specific cause, or project in exchange for various rewards. In most of the projects, backers (people who support a project) donate to a project in exchange for tangible, non-monetary, rewards such as the finished product, a t-shirt or a “thank you note.” The campaign should include: a scope, rewards, timeline, video, and a project page. There is no charge for the assistance, but the entrepreneur needs to participate in a venture/product assessment to define the maturity of the idea.