BLUFFTON, Ind. (WANE) – Bluffton is starting its own version of the hit reality show “Shark Tank.” The competition gives contestants the tools to start a business as well as a $40,000 prize package.

Click here to read the full overview of Tiger Tank.

The Wells County Chamber of Commerce and the group Bluffton Now partnered together to sponsor the competition. The city said it not only wants to help a company get started, but also make it sustainable so it can thrive for years to come.

“We bring all the dignitaries together. We cut the ribbon and we congratulate them when they open their business, but then too many times, we see after a year or so that maybe that business fades away, and a lot of the times, it’s just because there is not a good business plan in place,” Executive Director for Economic Development for the Wells County Chamber of Commerce Tim Ehlerding said. “Let’s bring the community together and wrap our arms around them and help them be successful by providing the professional services they need and the guidance that they need.”

The winner of Tiger Tank will get to start a business inside the Wells County Public Library. The existing space used to be a cafe, but is currently vacant. The 1400 square foot space is already furnished and comes with a full kitchen. The library daily crowd is also an added bonus to the location.

“I think that’s one of the advantages of this spot is that we already have a huge clientele. Statistics show that about 50 people enter our building an hour, so that’s a lot of people to go past the doors of this business,” Director for the Wells County Public Library Stephanie Davis said. “It might bring people into our library that might not have come before because they’ll come here and then say oh, there’s a library, I’ll go in and check it out and see what’s there and vice-versa.”

Of the seven applicants, five are food-related, one focuses on social services, and the other specializes in retail.

“Every one of them very intriguing as far as what they offer and I think any one of them could be successful,” Ehlerding said. “It’s not just a cookie-cutter that we’re getting. We are getting a wide variety of applicants. Of those seven, not one of them is exactly the same as any one of the others.”

“All the people that have entered the competition have really good ideas and I think they all could work, and I see those businesses thriving in this town,” Davis said.

In addition to 12 months of free rent, the winner also gets an extensive package of professional services. That includes legal assistance, website support, interior design consulting, and business coaching. The winning business will be required to sign a three-year lease with the Wells County Public Library. The winner is also responsible for all property taxes and utilities included in the business’s library space.

“We have a lot of community business people who know what it’s like to start a business and are willing to help this person out,” Davis said.

The city is also providing financial support. The winner gets $10,000 in the form of a zero interest loan. The city will also match up to an additional $10,000 based on the business owner’s investment.

“All those entities together really to support them and to make sure that they have not only short term, but long term success,” Ehlerding said.

All seven applicants passed the first round Thursday. The second round requires them to submit an official business plan. From there, the finalists will present their business plan to a panel of judges and get feedback.

“We want to see do they listen to critiques and constructive criticism,” Ehlerding said.

They have 30 days to revise their plan and present it again for the final round.

“We purposely sort of oriented it that way to make sure that they are willing to work with the team as much as we’re willing to work with them,” Ehlerding said.

The winner of the competition will be selected September 30th.