Valley Ventures Entrepreneur Café Competition Winners Announced “If passion could be bottled and sold, none of the participants in the Valley Ventures Entrepreneur Café would have a funding need”, according to event organizer, Katie C. Ickes. “The seven contestants exuded passion and purpose when pitching their ideas to the crowd at the Erma Byrd Center in early December.” The Doggie Café and Park was the winning business in the close competition. Winner Yolanda Lane is not a newcomer to competitions. She recently directed her passion and drive to break the Guinness World Record for the most dogs washed in a day. Her love for canines was evident as she gave a very detailed pitch about the need for a dog park and café in her community of Princeton. Her project is well underway and funds will be used for a sophisticated entrance and tracking system for her park. She was awarded $1370.
The winning student team from Bluefield State College was Adventures of the Virginians. This team comprised of April Herald, Helen Clarke and Ricky Diaz detailed a tourism business offering rentals and ATV lessons at the trailhead of the Hatfield and McCoy ATV Trail. They were awarded a monetary prize to aid in the development of their concept. Other participants in the regional competition included Lisa Stansell of the Daytripper regional travel publication highlighting tourism attractions to be enjoyed with a day’s time, Tammy Jordan of Fruits of Labors’ Seeds of Recovery program teaching culinary arts and sustainable gardening to participants of drug court in the Greenbrier Valley, and Lesa Spears of Lifelong Learning with Lesa, a business offering a collection of workshops to encourage ongoing learning on a varied of topics including writing and sewing. Kim Ross of Socially Savvy West Virginians detailed her business to train people to take positions in the growing social media management field. The Secure Tech team comprised of Bluefield State College students, Abdull Alsaif, Mohammed Alsaif and Kristine Price also pitched their business idea dealing secure delivery of goods. A progress report from a previous winner of the Greenbrier Valley Entrepreneur Café was delivered by Sonny Bennett of Johnson Youth Aviation Academy to round out the evening encouraging entrepreneurism and economic development in the region.
Debby Sizemore Senior Vice President of BB&T/Market President served as moderator and representative for the largest seed funding investor. Other seed funding investors included the event sponsors- New River Community and Technical College and New River Gorge Regional Development Authority, as well as First Community Bank, Greenbrier Valley Economic Development and Sam’s Club. Publicity partners in assisting with the event and in attendance were Robin Morgan of the Region 1 Workforce Investment Board, Natalie Roper of Generation West Virginia and Marc Meecham of the Greater Bluefield Chamber of Commerce. Other partners included the Beckley-Raliegh, Fayette County, Greater Greenbrier, Princeton/Mercer, Summersville and Pocahontas Chambers of Commerce. Appreciation was expressing to Jill Holliday of NRCTC and Joe Carlucci, Chad Weikle and Lillian Graning of NRGDA, as well as to Debby Sizemore and Aaron Kemlock of BB&T, Charles McGill and Lisa Figerao of Sam’s Club, and Peggy Crowder, Courtney Crowder and Steve Weir of GVEDC. The event was catered by James Williams and Jeremiah Johnson of The Corner Grill in Beckley.
Yolanda Lane of the Doggie Café and Park of Princeton receiving a cash award from seed and crowd funding from Katie C. Ickes of GVEDC, Jill Holliday of NRCTC and Lillian Graning and Joe Carlucci of NRGRDA.