‘Hands Up Lake County’ to give away 5 cash awards to local startups and small businesses.



  • a man and a woman standing in front of a white board


    © Provided by Lake County Record-Bee


    (Ariel Carmona Jr- Lake County Publishing) Maryann Schmid (left) co-founder of the “1Team 1 Dream” nonprofit and Clearlake City Manager Alan Flora hold up a mock check Thursday, announcing the city’s donation of $10,000 towards first prize for the “Hands Up Lake County Project,” a competition to open doors for budding entrepreneurs and small businesses in the County with co-founder Olga Martin Steele (center) in the background.



  • a group of people standing around a table


    © Provided by Lake County Record-Bee


    (Ariel Carmona Jr-Lake County Publishing) Clearlake City Manager Alan Flora puts his John Hancock on the mock check. The city’s $10,000 donation increased the first prize amount to $15,000 after a $5,000 donation from Maryann Schmid (in the background)



  • a man and a woman standing in front of a sign


    © Provided by Lake County Record-Bee


    (Ariel Carmona Jr- Lake County Publishing) Maryann Schmid co-founder of the “1Team 1 Dream” nonprofit and Clearlake City Manager Alan Flora hold up a mock check Thursday, announcing the city’s donation of $10,000 towards first prize for the “Hands Up Lake County Project,” a competition to open doors for budding entrepreneurs and small businesses in the County



  • a person sitting on a table


    © Provided by Lake County Record-Bee


    (Ariel Carmona Jr-Lake County Publishing) Maryann Schmid, co-founder of the 1Team 1Dream nonprofit signs the mock check which symbolizes the $10,000 donation from the City of Clearlake this past Thursday.

LAKE COUNTY— A $10,000 sponsorship from the City of Clearlake tops the list of sponsors putting up cash to support Lake County startups and small businesses competing in the first of its kind business opportunity. “Hands Up Lake County,” inspired by “Shark Tank,” the popular reality TV show where entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to investors, the project of the newly formed nonprofit 1Team 1Dream, takes a more home-spun approach, guaranteeing a one-time cash award and ongoing mentorship to support the winning businesses.

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The prize was enhanced with a $ 5,000 grant from premier sponsors, Peter and Maryann Schmid, owners of The Lodge at Blue Lakes, bringing the first prize award to $15,000. “Maryann is a dynamic, hardworking business woman who knows what it takes to make it in business and how to get others to support great ideas that benefit the Lake County economy,” said Chairperson Olga Martin Steele, who added that ultimately, funds came from private and public entities.

“I found that everywhere we went, people loved the idea. It’s a first in Lake County, and the business competition comes at a time when people are looking for ways to make it in the county, and the financial boost they may receive is great incentive – both to give and to receive. There’s something encouraging and hopeful about giving people a hand up in hard times. Needless to say, we are very pleased with the level of support received,” said Steele.

When Maryann Schmid met with Clearlake City Manager Alan Flora, she asked if the City would sponsor the 1st prize with a $5,000 donation, which she would match. The City Manager had a better idea: “We’ll sponsor the first prize with a $10,000 donation provided that 1Team 1Dream hosts a competition for the City of Clearlake in 2021 and increases the 1st prize award for this year to $15,000.” She didn’t hesitate in her agreement with this plan.

“I have known both Olga and Maryann for several years. They reached out and asked Clearlake to sponsor the grand prize winner. I was anxious to take their meeting as I have a great respect for both of them and their commitment to Lake County,” said Flora. “The staff and the City Council feel strongly that Clearlake is on the rise and the dynamics of the city are changing dramatically. We have many community dedicated business owners and budding entrepreneurs that want to be part of that change and transformation. We believe that 1Team 1Dream is going to be a key part of incentivizing that change and future, and we are proud to be partners in stimulating our local businesses. Peter and Maryann are great examples of successful business owners using their time and resources towards helping other Lake County businesses to improve and prosper. Their participation and support on this initiative gives the city confidence in its success.”

“Alan was very supportive from the get-go. He generously pledged $10,000 from the City of Clearlake. His faith in 1Team 1Dream’s vision and mission is unprecedented,” said Schmid, vice-chair and founder of the organization. “I conceived 1Team 1Dream during the Mendocino Complex Fire and asked my very good friend, Olga Steele, to join me. At that time, I witnessed how small businesses were suffering due to the devastation caused by the wildfire. Olga and I wanted to help small businesses thrive in Lake County. So, on Sept. 11, 2018, we invited businesses, community leaders and the Chamber members, at The Lodge at Blue Lakes for an ‘Evening with the Schmids’. At that time, we launched 1Team 1Dream as a grassroots initiative. In 2019, we applied for non-profit status from the state and federal governments.”

What started as a competition with five cash awards, initially ranging from $1,000 to $10,000, has evolved as support for the concept has grown. The prizes now go up to $15,000, and a special $2,500 sixth prize has been added as a matching grant in exchange for sponsorships by the City of Lakeport for the fourth and fifth prizes, $1,500 and $1,000 respectively. The deadline was extended to August 31 to allow more time to reach additional areas in the county, such as Middletown, Hidden Valley and Cobb.

Designed to support start-ups and small businesses who have creative business ideas and the will to implement them – from their Lake County home base – the competition will culminate in a gala where five chosen applicants will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges for a chance to win awards with a special $2,500 award for a Lakeport business.

“We knew we were going to have to work hard to find sponsors in this very challenging economy.  We began a grass roots effort to get out the word, attending and speaking at civic clubs, the Chambers of Commerce, business associations, basically at any community gathering”, said Steele. “The idea resonated with the groups and individuals we spoke with. It helped to have our founder, Maryann Schmid, so dedicated to the 1Team 1Dream mission that she put up $10,000 as a matching grant for sponsors of the prizes to get the ball rolling.”

Applicants are encouraged to pre-register or apply online at www.1team1dream.net. “You must be 18 years of age or over, a resident of Lake County and the business must reside in Lake County. We are hoping to ignite the entrepreneurial spirit of anyone who has a creative idea for starting or growing their small business – in all industries: food, hospitality, wine, tech, sales, landscaping, any service industry. The sky’s the limit. Businesses can be home or internet based or store fronts. The main thing is that we want them to be successful in Lake County. We want applicants that are dedicated to work and to live here – to love Lake County as much as we do – to be a part of its future”, added Steele.

“Training, basic work tools, mentorship and follow-up support by business leaders are the key elements of support throughout the process. Once the application closes, 10 to 15 applicants will be selected to attend a one day training on business planning. After the training, these applicants will participate in a mini-business competition before judges. Prior to the mini-competition, the applicants will receive follow-up support in developing their business plan and to help them make their best presentation to the judges. From the mini-competition, six finalists will be selected to move forward to the gala and competition where they will compete for the cash prizes. Winners will be supported by mentors, business people that can advise them in their first year.”

In reference to the pandemic, Schmid said that they planned a gala for the final competition for Dec. 6, 2020 at the Soper Reese Theatre, in Lakeport: “We still have the theatre reserved, hoping to hold the gala following whatever public health orders might allow at that time. However, in light of the uncertainties due to the COVID-19 crisis, our back-up plan is to hold a virtual competition. We will announce details as we approach the planned event date.”

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