ZIONSVILLE - A coworking space in Zionsville is teaming up with the Boone County Economic Development Corp. for a new pitch competition this fall. zWORKS, which opened in 2016, says the Pitch Night on October 3 is designed for entrepreneurs with a scalable business plan who live, work or want to start their business in Boone County. The grand prize for the inaugural event includes one year of office space and resources at zWORKS, as well as several other in-kind donations.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, zWORKS Executive Director Kate Swanson talked about the importance of hosting such an event in Boone County.

"I think it's a great way to showcase the businesses that we already have there and also to show people that it's a great place to start a business, in your local community," said Swanson. "When I started to talk about some of our startup founders around zWORKS, just throwing around the idea of this Pitch Night, when I suggested the prize of free rent for a year, their eyes just lit up so I knew that that was a pretty attractive prize to a lot of startups and also it builds on our community at zWORKS by adding another company there."

Interested entrepreneurs can apply online for the competition by September 14. Five startups will be invited to pitch their ideas to a panel of venture capitalist judges, including representatives from Indianapolis-based High Alpha and Elevate Ventures, as well as IU Ventures and Purdue Foundry.

The audience at the event will also choose a People's Choice award winner, who will receive a cash award and resources.

zWORKS was founded in 2015 and opened a second location in Zionsville in early 2018. Swanson says the coworking space has been beneficial for the town.

"It's really built a connected community in our town and it's also fun to watch the economic development and the growth that it creates in a town. I feel like it just is a great partner to the town. I feel like it really helps create energy in the town and also adds, hopefully, to economic growth. When you also see the amount of venture capital dollars invested, in a town like Zionsville we really are working to keep (the startups) in Zionsville, hopefully creating places where they can go."

zWORKS says, since its inception, member companies have raised more than $20 million in venture capital funds and created more than 75 jobs in the community.