Great Lakes Entrepreneur’s Quest (GLEQ) is a non-profit organization formed in 2000 that organizes a series of events which lead up to a competition designed to build upon the entrepreneurial knowledge and experience in Michigan. GLEQ provides support and education to those creating a growth of successful technology-based businesses in the state. Each entrant is assigned a team of experts made up of experienced coaches who have run their own businesses and is offered advice from investors. GLEQ strives to unite the entrepreneurial community while building the critical mass of technology, talent and capital essential to start high-tech enterprises.
Eiler began work with GLEQ to plan and created a Business Plan Competition. The competition is designed to give participants an educational boost to turn their ideas into business models that lead to successful businesses. The participants are separated by region. Teams can compete in Eastern, Western or Northern Michigan. The first phase of the competition runs from October to December, the second from January to March. GLEQ aims to showcase the state’s leading technological excellence and affirm Michigan as a superior place to grow a high-tech business.
GLEQ needed to build awareness of the competition and create an entrepreneurial interest around the state. The competition is intended to convince start-ups to build their business here, retain managerial talent and establish Michigan as a hotbed of entrepreneurship. GLEQ also aims to establish several successful new businesses each year. GLEQ needed to reach its target audiences to participate in the competition as well as generate a buzz around the competition with key media in the state.
Eiler began by revamping the GLEQ brochure. We chose a lighthouse as its new symbol to serve as a beacon for new business. The brochure detailed how GLEQ acts as a lighthouse in that is a resource to new entrepreneurs and its volunteers steer them towards greater knowledge and away from potential mistakes. Media, including radio and TV stations, online publications and regional newspapers, were contacted and pitched regularly throughout the competition while press releases were sent out to keep the media and public aware of the progress. University publications were also targeted to reach students, faculty and administrators and generate interest. For the final awards ceremony, media were personally invited to attend.
Eiler created significant buzz surrounding GLEQ and the competition across the state. Regional papers in Ann Arbor, Battle Creek, Flint, Kalamazoo, Saginaw and Traverse City, as well as Detroit and Grand Rapids, picked up the press releases and featured GLEQ and the participants in various areas. News of the competition also spread among online publications. Crain’s Detoit.com, Dallas News.com, Michigan Technology News, Silicon Valley Business Ink and The Great Lakes IT Report all covered the competition. WWJ’s Digital Detroit featured GLEQ participants’ business plan pitches on-air and also interviewed GLEQ chairpersons Bob Herdoiza and David Parsigian. Additional interviews with GLEQ chairpersons Paul Kirsch and Gary Krause were featured on Michigan Talk Radio. The Michigan Business Beat aired segments featuring the nine winners on stations across the state. The coverage generated allowed GLEQ to build awareness of the competition and increase its visibility within the state as an organization committed to educating and supporting entrepreneurs in their journey to build a successful tech-based business in Michigan.