KC-based pitch competition offers entrepreneurs a shot at worldwide exposure

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. --   How's this for being put on the spot?

A Kansas City-based contest is preparing to give start-up business operators a chance to pitch their businesses to a worldwide audience. The winner could receive as much as $1 million to support their products. They'll get 25 seconds to present their case.

Welcome to a business opportunity with a dash of Hollywood mixed in.

Eight start-up business operators will Get in The Ring for a chance to pitch their products in a worldwide made-for-television environment. Anxious enterprenuers are practicing their sales pitches, as the Kauffman Foundation plays host to the American finals.

"There's no substitute for getting up in front of a crowd," Johnathan Robinson from the Kauffman Foundation said. "Putting everything on the line and pitching your business."

This marks the sixth year the Kaufman Foundation has helped produce the show, where only one of the eight finalists will advance to the world championships. That's where small business operators will pitch their products to an audience filled with potential investors.

"This is an opportunity to really accelerate their growth," Robinson said. "It's a process that happens every day in communities around the world. This is just an opportunity to do it in front of a bigger spotlight."

Toby Rush is the CEO at KCK-based Eye Verify, which has developed new technology using cell phones to scan a user's eyes as a means of personal ID.

"It's Star Trek. It's Mission Impossible. It's James Bond type stuff," Rush said. "I simply look at my phone and it knows who I am."

Rush says the space-age identification system is already in use by several American banking and security firms, but this opportunity could help his company expand into Europe.

The Kauffman Center may be based in Kansas City, but the show's organizers say they can't afford to show preference to any of these eight competitors. In fact, the only thing they're promising is a set of listening ears and a worldwide audience.

"That kind of expanse and visibility, you can't buy," Rush said.

And victory could turn a mom-and-pop business into a worldwide moneymaker.

The world finals of 'Get In the Ring' will be held on Friday in the Netherlands. As for tonight's US finals, that contest can be seen live via the internet.

Follow this link to see the live broadcast tonight at 7pm.

Check out Sean McDowell's FOX 4 Facebook page.

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