Applications Now Being Accepted for the Hands Up Lake County Small Business Competition 2023

Lake County small businesses and startups are encouraged to apply online for the fourth annual “Hands Up Lake County, 2023” competition.

Applications must be submitted online at by May 31, 2023.

The Program


Hands Up Lake County is a small business competition that encourages and nurtures the entrepreneurial spirit in the community. Selected participants will fine-tune their business ideas and business plans and receive training and follow-up support. Thirteen (13) small businesses will be selected in the Established Business category and seven (7) businesses will be selected in the Startup Business category. All businesses in both categories will compete in a “mini-competition” from which five (5, in the Established Business category) and three (3, in the Startup Category) will be selected to advance to a final competition and a chance to win cash awards totaling $120,000.

There are 4 phases in the small business competition.

  • The application Review: In this stage, all applications submitted by the May 31, 2023, deadline are reviewed by the Board of Directors (or a committee thereof) of the non-profit, 1Team 1Dream. In 2023, a total of 20 applicants will be selected: 13 in the Established Business Category; 7 in the Startup Business Category.
  • The workshop/business plan training: In this phase, 20 selected applicants must attend an in-person 1-day training preparatory to the mini-competition. In the training applicants will learn how to write and present a business plan for the next phase, the mini-competition.
  • The mini-competition: In the mini-competition 3 judges will evaluate the 20 on-stage presentations and select 5 small businesses in the Established Business Category and 3 in the Startup Business Category who will advance to the final competition.
  • The final competition: In the final competition, a new set of judges will evaluate the onstage presentations of the finalists and decide placement. In this phase all applicants will receive a cash award, the amount received is determined by the judges.

The Basics

  • Fully completed, signed application must be submitted by the deadline. Applications will be accepted from March 1 to May 31, 2023. Late applications will not be accepted.
  • Applicants must agree to all the terms specified on the application.
  • The business (established or startup) must be located in Lake County.
  • The application must be responsive to the questions asked.
  • The name of the business or startup must be clear.
  • The contact information must be current and accurate. In any of the phases of the competition if an applicant does not respond to communication from the 1Team 1Dream administration in a timely manner, the applicant may be disqualified.


From the application submitted, to the business plan, and the pitch/presentation judges will have the challenging task of deciding which businesses will advance – from the mini-competition to the final competition – where they will decide the award amounts for each finalist in 2 categories:

Established Businesses: $30,000, $24,000, 18,000, 12,000, and $6,000.

Startup Businesses: $12,000, $8,000, and $5,000

General Criteria

Originality: Does the applicant demonstrate the product/service and unique ability to solve a well-defined problem?

Marketing and Sales Strategy: Does the applicant demonstrate a clear understanding of placement in the market and methods to reach market/customer targets?

Market Niche: Does the applicant address a compelling fit and need in the marketplace.

Market Vagaries: Does the applicant demonstrate how it will survive the ups and downs of an unstable market – especially during recessions or emergencies that impact sales and distribution?

Business Model Clarity and Viability: Does the business plan present financial feasibility and a realistic path to success?

Growth Potential: Does the applicant address growth potential of the business?

Creativity and Clarity of the Pitch: Does the pitch/presentation  make a compelling case for business success, 3 – 5 years out?

The Cash Award: Does the applicant deliver a clear case for how the cash award will be used?

The cash prizes in the 2022 competition are $25,000, first prize; $20,000, second prize; $15,000, third prize; $10,000, fourth prize; $5,000, fifth prize; $10,000 for the best start up business.

All the information needed to compete in Hands Up Lake County 2022 is on the website including, eligibility requirements, criteria, FAQs and the application form.

Hands Up Lake County is the signature project of 1Team 1Dream, a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit formed to improve the Lake County economy, one small business at a time.

The business competition is supported by a coalition of private businesses, city leaders and others who support the purpose and goals of the organization.

For more information about the small business competition or to sponsor the event, contact Olga Martin Steele at 916-849-8170.