Five entrepreneurs earned the opportunity to compete for one year of free rent for a business space at Ridley Tower in Marion during the upcoming Grant County Pitch Night.
The original field of 23 applicants was narrowed down to four finalists who will participate in the final round at Grant County Pitch Night on Oct. 5 . These businesses include Obi’s Barbecue, Elevate Fitness Solutions, Echo, and Sweet Visions. The competition was organized by the Grant County Economic Growth Council (EGC) in cooperation with Mike Halstead, owner of Halstead Architects and the Ridley Tower.
The top five will compete for the grand prize package, which includes one year of free rent for the 5,000 square feet on the first or second floor at the Ridley Tower.
According to Victoria Herring, director of business development and operations for the EGC, participants presented their ideas for businesses that could thrive in the Ridley Tower retail space.
Applications were accepted beginning in May 2019 and organizers narrowed those down to 10 based on financial stability, innovation and how well the business would fit the space.
Mikayla Marazzi, marketing and communication director for the EGC, said the opportunity was promoted to entrepreneurs and businesses across the region. Mick Bates, associate professor of marketing at Taylor, was a preliminary judge for this event.
“Pitch night is a shark tank-like event where the finalists get to go in and make a 10-minute pitch with five minutes for questions,” Bates said.
A diverse group of businesses are competing for the spot, including existing businesses that are hoping to expand, online businesses that want to transition into a storefront and people who want to start up a new business.
The finals will begin on Oct. 5 at 3 p.m. at Ridley Tower. Audience members will be able to speak to the five finalists and ask questions about their businesses. At 4 p.m., the formal pitches will begin. Audience members will be invited to vote and the winner will be selected based on a combination of the judges’ scores and audience votes.
Prize packages will be given to first and second place winners, as well as the “audience choice” award winner. A free afterparty will take place from 6–9 p.m. with food trucks, coffee and live music.
Jeff Richardson, a Pitch Night contestant, is presenting an expansion to his food truck, Obi’s Barbecue. He has been smoking meat for the past ten years and has even made his own line of sauces and rubs.
Richardson said that “Pitch Night will definitely spread the word about Obi’s Barbecue. There will be a lot of interested in what I am doing.” Richardson he has gotten to where he is today because he took a big leap of faith and encourages others to do the same. He stated that if you are passionate about something, you will never work a day in your life.
Grant County Pitch Night could serve as an excellent opportunity for Taylor students to learn more about entrepreneurship and business development. Judge David Hartley encourages entrepreneurial Taylor students not to just focus on the big vision, and to prioritize creating a plan.
“If you really want to make something happen, lay out a roadmap to get to your goal and then focus on the first step,” Hartley said.
To purchase a $5 ticket or to learn more about the event, visit www.grantcounty.com/business/pitchnight.