After an overwhelming response from the entrepreneurial community and 73 entries submitted from around the country, winners have been chosen for Hilton Head Island Economic Development Corporation's first-ever "Bring Your Business Idea to Life" contest. The contest was created to give entrepreneurs the opportunity to win a comprehensive array of prizes and support to help launch their businesses.
More than 150 business and community leaders attended the pitch competition on Feb. 23 at Poseidon Restaurant, where the six finalists gave “fast pitches” to a panel of well-known business leaders in the community serving as contest judges. Judges were Jason Allen, of Chatham Capital Group; Terry Brubaker, of Gladstone Investments; Jim Macleod, of Coastal States Bank; and Leslie Richardson, of Coligny Plaza.
Winners and their business ideas were:
Patricia Snelson, Tip Toes Custom Shoes
Tip Toes will marry technology with traditional craftsmanship to produce “custom” footwear for the millions of women, men and children whose feet don’t conform to standard sizes. Tip Toes Custom Shoes will provide people who currently struggle with finding comfortable shoes (i.e., genetic anomalies, injuries, orthotics, work, sports) a reliable and repeatable method of procuring footwear that is both comfortable and stylish and which will reduce discomfort and improve their quality of life.
As the first place winner, Snelson received a cash prize of $3,000; enrollment in the business incubator program at the Don Ryan Center for Innovation; business formation and trademark legal services from the Jolley Law Group, LLC (valued at $3,000); a marketing/branding package and expert business mentoring from SmartMarketing Communications (valued at $5,000); a multimedia print/digital advertising package to help launch the business (valued at more than $2,000); podcast and blog opportunities with The Creative Coast; and small-business mentoring services from SCORE and the USCB Small Business Development Center. She also received SERG restaurant gift cards and a one-year membership to Powerhouse Gym.
Michael Tripka and David Arnal, Honey Horn Meadworks
In developing Honey Horn Meadworks, Tripka and Arnal plan to create a meadery for the production and sale of the world’s oldest fermented beverage, mead. Mead, which is similar to wine, is made using honey as the main fermentable ingredient. In creating Honey Horn Meadworks, they plan to include a tasting room and on-site retail sales, as well as tours.
Matt Papka, elev8bikes
Papka created elev8bikes to help people feel comfortable while mounting/dismounting their bikes, as well as to help them feel less uncomfortable while starting and stopping. In designing and patenting the elev8bike, customers enjoy maximum leg extension while feeling safe and secure — empowering many types of riders and helping people ride with confidence. Elev8bikes are also designed to serve people with physical challenges, including those with cerebral palsy, neuropathy, MS, diabetes and other issues.
The second and third place winners each received prize packages that included cash prizes of $1,500 and $1,000, respectively; legal services from the Jolley Law Group, LLC; participation in podcast and blog opportunities from The Creative Coast; as well as Powerhouse Gym memberships and SERG gift cards.
The event also featured a special “Audience Choice” award, which was presented to Kraig Blatchley and Daniel Brock. Blatchley Power, Inc. is engaged in advanced research and development of new alternative electrical power generation through original equipment manufacturing of an energy generative pump — created to drastically change the energy production industry. They received a check for $500 and other business support services to help in the company’s continued development.
“We were excited to see both the large number of entries we received for our first ‘Bring Your Business Idea to Life’ contest, and the exceptional quality of business ideas that were presented through this competition,” said Don Kirkman, executive director of the Hilton Head Island Economic Development Corporation. “This contest was a great way for us to validate the large number of entrepreneurs with new business ideas who reside in the Lowcountry. Working with our small business and entrepreneurial resource partners, we look forward to supporting the winners and all of the contest applicants.”
For more information about the HHIEDC, visit www.hhiedc.com.