For the ninth consecutive year, StartUp Jefferson City offered four entrepreneurs an opportunity to pitch their business ideas for a chance at winning a $5,000 cash prize to support their future growth. At the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce Business Leadership Summit, two winners were recognized from the annual “Pitch It & Win It” competition.
“The judges were so impressed with all the pitch presentations,” said Zola Fitch, Executive Director for Rural Missouri, Inc. “We were having a difficult decision to make, but in the end, I felt strongly in supporting two outstanding pitch presentations.”
Rural Missouri, Inc. (RMI) was once again the main sponsor of “Pitch It & Win It” as part of their mission of improving the economic well-being of individuals, businesses, and communities. “Zola Finch and her staff have graciously supported entrepreneurs working to reach their goals of business ownership,” said Leslie Tanner, Vice President of Commercial Lending for Central Bank. “Without RMI’s support, we would not be able to offer this unique opportunity to the local community,” said Tanner.
StartUp Jefferson City received 14 pitch applications from local entrepreneurs and each registrant
participated in a one-on-one prescreening meeting led by Lauren Carter, Executive Director of the
Lincoln University-Small Business Development Center. The prescreening meetings offered an opportunity to counsel each business about how the entrepreneurs could improve on their messaging before moving on to the next phase of “Pitch It & Win It.”
From this juncture, the committee selected four teams of entrepreneurs and invited them to make their business pitch to a panel of judges. Business ideas ranged from a carpet cleaning business to an online all-natural personal care products business. Each of the pitch participants provided a detailed synopsis of their business plan, accompanied by a visual overview, all of which addressed seven specific criteria points consistent with a business plan outline: Problem, Solution, Market Opportunity, Business Model, Competition and Sustainable Advantage, Management Team and Financial Outcomes.
For the first time ever in the competition’s history, the committee selected two monetary awards of $5,000 each, which was only made possible through the generosity of RMI.
Nicholas Jackson’s business concept, Take Mo Selfies, offers individuals a physical setting with multiple backdrops to create memorable photographs for family and friends. In addition, Take Mo Selfies will offer a mobile service for weddings, proms, birthday parties and other events. “I greatly appreciate the cash award which will allow me to add equipment and expand my mobile business,” said Jackson, owner of Take Mo Selfies.
Doug Starr made his pitch for Mid Mo Sno, a mobile shaved ice business that just started up this past summer in and around the local area. Mid Mo Sno prides itself on quick and delicious iced treats that won’t hurt an individual’s pocketbook. “We began last Summer with no solid expectations of sales,” said Doug Starr, Owner of Mid Mo Sno. “By the end of the season we reclaimed 75 percent of our initial investment, and that’s when we knew we had something to expand on.” Doug plans to add additional equipment and another mobile unit to expand his outreach for next summer. Long-term plans may include a physical brick-and-mortar location in Jefferson City.
Runner-up Pitch Participants:
- The Backdrop, owned by Brinn Thorsten, a physical selfie studio with multiple backdrops offered
- Velocity Data Tech, owned by Linda Landon, software which offers lien searches that save time and staff resources
Moving past the “Pitch It & Win It” event, the Chamber, RMI and SBDC continues to provide support to each pitch participant and to anyone seeking professional business counseling. If you are interested in receiving business counseling, please contact:
Ashley Temme, Program Manager
Above: Doug Starr
Right: Mid Mo Sno, mobile shaved ice business
Left: Nicholas Jackson
Above: an example from Take Mo Selfies
Right: Zola Fitch, Executive Director of Rural Missouri, Inc.