CenterState CEO Announces New Business Competition

Posted on December 1, 2015

Germinator Logo

CenterState CEO today announced its latest regional business competition, The Germinator. The region’s largest and most comprehensive annual business competition will award a total of $600,000 over an intense two-year period, beginning with a $10,000 investment for all six competitors. In March of 2017, two teams will compete for a $100,000 grand prize. Each of those two teams will have had already received a total of $150,000 through prior funding rounds, resulting in a total investment of $250,000 for the grand prize winner.

The Germinator is a two year competition for startups with funding rounds every six months. In addition to funding, teams will receive training on topics including marketing, intellectual property, sales, financing, and fundraising. Participants will have one on one mentoring with The Tech Garden’s team of experts and access to the DevBox, a team of in-house software developers that can assist in building software and application products.

"The scale and scope of The Germinator competition is unlike anything we have provided to our region’s entrepreneurs before," said Robert Simpson, president of CenterState CEO. “It brings together the successful elements of the Emerging Business Competition and Startup Labs to create a thorough and rigorous program to best prepare entrepreneurs to meet the challenges of growing their business. From seed capital, to mentorship and technical support, to multiple staged investments, this program validates teams’ business models to later stage investors.”

For eight years CenterState CEO has hosted an annual business plan competition with the goal of growing the region’s entrepreneurial culture and stimulating job creation and business development by providing financial and in-kind resources to companies. Seven prior competitions have awarded more than $1.5 million in privately-raised dollars to high potential businesses in the region.

“National Grid looks to support public and private partnerships to help grow Central New York's thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem," said Melanie Littlejohn, Central New York Regional Executive for National Grid. "National Grid is proud to be the presenting sponsor of The Germinator and to contribute to the region’s economic vitality through emerging business competitions like Germinator that prepare entrepreneurs to meet the long-term challenges of growing their business, and to provide financial support and mentorship opportunities."

“The evolution of this competition shows serious commitment on the part of the business community to support our region’s homegrown ingenuity,” said Allen Naples, regional president of M&T Bank. “This region has incredible entrepreneurial talent and The Germinator ensures that their talent is met with the resources necessary to advance their ideas to market and drive additional investments.”

The Germinator competition responds to feedback from both the business community and past competitors in Emerging Business Competitions and Startup Labs, resulting in a longer, stage funded program that encourages participants to create roots in the Central New York Region.

“This new business competition is unlike anything being done in the country and advances the work we began eight years ago, best meeting the ever-changing needs of our region’s entrepreneurs,” said Seth Mulligan, vice president of innovation at CenterState CEO. “The Germinator focuses on the big picture growth of companies and better integrates them into our community by providing long-term incentives and exposure to resources from across Central New York.”

Teams that compete in The Germinator have the opportunity to win a maximum investment of $250,000. As each six month round of the competition ends, participants will face either elimination or additional funding in demo day events called “Greenhouses.” Each Greenhouse will have a theme based on the training and workshops featured throughout that round. Teams that make the cut in each Greenhouse are offered funding at increasing levels. Those that are eliminated will be offered space in The Tech Garden and support through its portfolio of services and networking opportunities.

The final Greenhouse is broken up into a two tiers. The first tier is the Greenhouse Finals, themed "Sales and Scale.” Teams will compete for a $100,000 grand prize and must show sales and customer traction. The second tier will allow the four previously eliminated teams to compete for one “Best of the Rest” $50,000 investment.

To learn more about the germinator or apply to participate, visit the website at

The Germinator Sponsors

Presenting Sponsor
National Grid

Lead Sponsors
CenterState CEO
M & T Bank

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