LIMA — We’ve all seen the show “Shark Tank,” where budding entrepreneurs try to pitch their ideas to a panel of business investors.
A similar version of that took place Tuesday at The Meeting Place on Market in Lima.
The Walter C. Potts Entrepreneur Center, in partnership with the Small Business Development Center at Rhodes State College and the Lima Area Chamber Foundation, heard from eight local entrepreneurs who competed for a total of $6,000 in Lima’s Pitchfest.
Pitchfest included two categories: A start-up category and an emerging category.
The winners in each category get $2,000, while the runner-ups get $1,000 each.
The start-up category was for all entrepreneurs that want to receive start-up funding, while the emerging category was for businesses that have been operating for one to three years.
The five businesses participating in the start-up category were Airy Automotive, LLC; ClassEBoutique, LLC, dba Keep It ClassE; Mending Fences Recovery Community; Plush Party Palace and The Jump Off, LLC.
The three businesses in the emerging category were 7th Heaven Bakery Creations, LLC; Brunlee Extracts, LLC and Lillie White’s Beauty Supply.
Erica Hawkins is the owner of ClassEBoutique. She started her business earlier this year at 1519 N. Main St., Lima.
Although she was nervous before delivering her pitch to the judges, that all melted away.
“Once I got in there, I wasn’t nervous at all,” Hawkins said. “My boutique has been open for six months. Right now I do work full time, so my hours are really limited to evenings and the weekends. So if I were to get this money, I would use it to boost my inventory a little bit more, and I would use some of that money to hire a part-time worker.”
Hawkins won the top prize in the start-up category, $2,000.
Winning top prize in the emerging category, and $2,000, was Brunlee Extracts.
Brunlee Extracts, a collaboration between Korbin Steinbrunner and Rebekah Lee, works out of Sara’s Sweets in Lima, providing ingredients for the business and others.
“We started off with just extracts, but we’re starting to move into other areas of baking products,” Steinbrunner said.
The business got started last year and made about $30,000 in profits the first year.
“So with that, we just started to look for new opportunities to grow and expand our business and look into building a website and being more approachable to other consumers and bakeries,” Lee said.
Lee says she appreciates the chance to compete in Pitchfest.
“If we need investors in the future, then we have that under our belt. We know what it’s like, and we can approach other investors and the opportunity for much more money to help grow our business is really great and helpful,” Lee said.
Stephanie Russell operates a licensed mobile bakery, which she started as a home-based business in 2014, moving from the Cleveland area to Findlay and catering events all across Ohio.
“I think it went very well,” said Stephanie Russell, owner of 7th Heaven Bakery Creations. “It was a bit nerve-wracking, but I presented my business proposal. I’m looking for branding and packaging upgrades and so we talked about that and talked about sales.”
Any money she could receive is appreciated.
“This is all on me. I’ve never had any financing and this is the first time I’ve ever applied for any type of monies. It would be greatly appreciated because it would go to upgrading the business,” Russell said.
Her efforts paid off with a $1,000 check.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.