Liftoff Eligibility and General Terms

The purpose of the LiftOff Shoals startup competition is to promote and reward high-growth, innovative ventures that have the potential to grow and thrive in Colbert and Lauderdale Counties. The competition is for new, independent ventures in the pre-seed, seed, startup or early-growth stages, or for the expansion of an existing business into a new high-growth market.

LiftOff Shoals requires each team to agree to the following terms and conditions. Disqualification and/or forfeiture of prizes can result for team entries that fail to comply with these terms and conditions.

Generally excluded are the following: buy-outs, real estate syndications, tax shelters, franchises, licensing agreements, and spin-outs from existing corporations.

Originality and Intellectual Property Rights:
By agreeing to the rules and eligibility terms of the competition, applicants certify that the ideas and concepts outlined in the submissions to LiftOff Shoals are the original work of the applicants. If intellectual property is involved, applicants must have obtained the legal rights to use and to the best of participants’ knowledge, there are no legal impediments to launching the business/product.

Company Team Composition:
While there is no restriction on the total size of each company team, participants may not join more than one team. All team members are expected to be active participants throughout all phases of the competition. Company team members may not be added after an applicant is accepted into the competition. Company team members refer primarily to founders, c-suite officers (CEO, CTO, CIO, etc.), and employees.

Equity Investment and Revenue Requirements:
Any external funding received by the startup team must be identified and reported in the application form. Ventures that have raised equity capital totaling $1 million or more from sources other than team members or their friends and families, or that have realized more than $3 million in sales in the 12 months immediately preceding the competition are not eligible. Federal grant awards, including funding from SBIR/STTR programs, are excluded from this restriction.

Waivers and Releases:
Participants agree to waive all claims against Liftoff Shoals, any and all judges, reviewers, mentors, other sponsors, and/or participants in the startup competition for any actions that occur as part of, arise out of, or are in any way related to participation in this startup competition. Participants understand that no confidentiality of any information is provided and that protection of highly confidential trade secret information and other intellectual property is the responsibility of the competition applicants/participants. Liftoff Shoals will not require competition judges, mentors, or reviewers in the competition to sign nondisclosure documents. All participants are urged to seek professional guidance on the type of information that should be included in their startup competition submissions. Liftoff Shoals and its officers assume no liability for release of confidential information by the competitors, judges, mentors, or reviewers.

All submissions become the property of LiftOff Shoals and will not be returned to the teams. Participants are strongly advised to keep their own copies of all submitted materials.

Participants grant to LiftOff Shoals the right to make photographs, audio recordings, and/or video recordings of all program events or meetings, and further grant to Liftoff Shoals the unlimited right to publish, without compensation, participants’ and company names, submitted materials, photographs, audio recordings, and video recordings for educational, promotional, public relations, and advertising purposes.

All decisions made by the judges on all matters relating to the LiftOff Shoals Startup Competition are final. Liftoff Shoals, at their discretion and without prior notice to the competitors, reserve the unrestricted right to interpret these rules, and to alter, amend, or change competition rules, conditions, or awards.

Competition Process

The Startup Competition consists of three phases (application, first pitch [when applicable/necessary], finale). During each phase, the judging panel will eliminate teams based on evaluation criteria and the judges’ judgment of which company(s) have the greatest chance of success. Critical factors to success include 1) a complete and achievable startup project funding request 2) company potential for creating jobs 3) company potential to attract investor funding.

General Details

  1. The judging panel is comprised of three or more individuals representing the investment/angel community, entrepreneurs, and corporate stakeholders.
  2. The same judging panel reviews all phases of the competition.
  3. During any phase of the competition, the judging panel may solicit additional information prior to making a decision.
  4. Each competition will follow a posted schedule.
  5. All posted deadlines will be strictly enforced.
  6. Pitch requirements for each pitch presentation will be provided to participants once a company team is accepted into the startup competition. Pitches generally are expected to be between 8-10 minutes.
  7. First pitch (when applicable/necessary): Teams admitted into the competition will make a live pitch presentation to the judging panel and advancing teams will be announced the same day.
  8. Teams with qualifying scores from the first pitch presentation will advance to the finale and are eligible to be funded.

Application and Application Fee:
All participants must register for the competition and pay the $150 application fee. The application fee must be paid at the time of submission. Application fees will be processed through PayPal, all major credit cards are accepted. Follow this link to pay: . If you have trouble, application fees can be processed by calling the Shoals Chamber of Commerce at 256-764-4661.

Applicants that are not accepted into the startup competition may submit an application to a future competition and have their application fee waived by LiftOff Shoals. Applicants may only have their application fee waived once. It is the responsibility of the applicant to request their application be waived by the LiftOff Shoals staff prior to the application deadline for the competition to which the applicant is submitting.

Startups interested in applying must complete the online application and provide the following supplemental materials.

Application Supplemental Materials:
1. Budget
2. One Page Summary of your Business Model
3. Pitch Video (3 minutes or less)

4. Pitch Slide Deck (10 slides max)

Business Plan Submissions:
Teams accepted into the competition only will be required to submit a business plan based on a template that will be provided to you.

Startup Project: 
A clearly defined set of tasks necessary to complete, build, validate or advance a startup venture’s technology, service or product. A startup project represents a significant milestone(s) in the startup company’s commercialization process. Potential projects include but are not limited to prototype development and testing, validation studies, beta testing. Acceptable projects advance the startup toward commercialization of its intellectual property rather than strictly funding additional research. Fundable startup projects clearly outline the translational work needed to bring a startup’s idea to market.

Award Requirements

Participants understand that winning teams will be required to provide LiftOff Shoals with documentation that verifies specific requirements prior to receipt of the cash prize. Winning teams will have 30 days from the date of the competition finale to satisfy all competition requirements. Participants understand that this is a firm deadline, and that LiftOff Shoals may revoke prize money for non-compliance.

Intellectual Property and Incorporation:
Prior to receipt of the cash prize, winning teams must provide documentation that the business has the legal right to use any and all intellectual property referenced in their business plan. If incorporated, the business must provide documentation of all appropriate documentation including articles of incorporation and IRS information (employer tax id#). Incorporation within any state is permitted; the business is not required to be incorporated in Alabama.

Payment and Use of Prize Money:
Prize money can be distributed to the business if incorporated or partner/individual if applicable. Participants and winning teams understand that receipt of the cash prize requires approval by Liftoff Shoals of the planned uses for the prize money and that the funds may be distributed over time based on milestones achieved. None of the prize money awarded may be used for repayment of personal investment in the business or repayment of other debt. Competition awards will be distributed as reimbursement grants upon receipts of invoices with documentation of allowed expenses. In general upon approval and submission of all required documents one half of the award amount is distributed to the recipient. The second half is disbursed upon documentation of approved expenses equaling at least the amount of the initial disbursement and satisfactory completion of agreed upon project milestones. Winning teams are highly encouraged to consult with a financial advisor prior to accepting the prize money to understand any relevant tax implications to the business. LiftOff Shoals does not provide any tax advice to winning teams

Forfeiture and Repayment of Prize Money:
Winning teams understand and agree that, if any material misrepresentations are discovered or if a winning team is not able to satisfy the above requirements or satisfactory completion of the agreed upon project milestones, the team may be disqualified and/or the company may be required to repay any cash and prizes that have been received plus 8% annual interest. Winning teams understand and agree that, if a winning company moves its headquarters or a majority of its business operations outside Colbert and Lauderdale Counties within five (5) years of payment of the award, the company is obligated to repay LiftOff Shoals the cash prize money plus 8% annual interest. Liftoff Shoals has the sole discretion in determining whether a company has moved a majority of its business outside of Colbert and Lauderdale Counties.

Business Operations and Headquarters: 
Award recipients must have launched at the time of application or launch and operate the proposed business in Colbert or Lauderdale County and maintain the company headquarters and primary business operations in said county for a period of five (5) years. This includes a requirement that senior management of the company will operate in Colbert or Lauderdale County.