Four Small Business Owners Win Funding in Statewide Arkansas Pitch Competition
Arkansas entrepreneurial support organizations produced pitch competition for women, veterans and people of color
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. June 30, 2021 – Four Arkansas small business owners won a collective $31,000 at the 2021 Pitch ‘N Pint pitch competition, produced by Arkansas-based Entrepreneurial Support Organizations. FemPAQ, Edamame Films, and Certified Pies won cash prizes after delivering virtual pitches for a panel of judges and a virtual audience of excited supporters. WoofCat took home the Audience Choice Award.
Pitch ‘N Pint was a collaboration between The Venture Center, Venture Noire and Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center (ASBTDC), who formed a selection committee and selected pitch participants from a pool of statewide applicants.
“The Venture Noire team was happy to be a part of the Pitch ‘N Pint event in our home state. A key driver of our overall mission at Venture Noire is to support minority business owners in the Heartland specifically, who have been an overlooked group when it comes to business support and funding,” said Keenan Beasley, CEO and Founder of Venture Noire. “We hope that the resources this year’s participants received will help scale their businesses and will allow them to serve as inspiration for the next generation.”
“We’re proud of everyone who participated in yesterday’s pitch event,” said Wayne Miller, The Venture Center’s Executive Director. “Women, people of color and veterans suffered the most negative impacts from the Covid-19 pandemic, including in the entrepreneurial space. Intentionally bolstering support for these communities is essential, and we’re thrilled that yesterday’s pitch event made positive progress towards that goal. We look forward to working with all the contestants in the months and years to come.”
“Congratulations to the winners of the pitch competition,” said Laura Fine, State Director of the ASBTDC. “We appreciate the passion and hard work by all of the small businesses that participated, and hope that this experience serves them well as they continue their entrepreneurial journey.”
The virtual contest was held for small businesses owned by women, people of color and veterans whose Arkansas-based businesses have been negatively impacted by Covid-19 and whose annual sales are less than $100,000. First, second and third place winners were chosen by judges from AEDC, The Diversity Booth and The Urban League, and an Audience Choice winner was chosen by a poll of the competition viewers. Prizes ranged from $1,000 to $15,000. Overall, $31,000 was awarded to Arkansas small businesses.
Every participant benefitted from a one-on-one coaching session with a mentor, as well as a collective group pitch workshop. During the sessions, participants and mentors practiced the fundamentals of pitching, refining their message, and mentally preparing for the live event.
List of Winning Contestants
First Place – $15,000 Winner: FemPAQ, April Roy
Second Place – $10,000 Winner: Edamame Films, Ayana Baraka
Third Place – $5,000 Winner: Certified Pies, Samantha Stewart
Audience Choice Award – $1,000 Winner: WoofCat, Nicole Winstead
Funding support for the competition was provided by ASBTDC, Venture Noire, Venture Center, and Arkansas Capital Corp.
To learn more about the 2021 Pitch ‘N Pint event, visit www.venturecenter.co.
About The Venture Center
The Venture Center is a globally recognized Arkansas-based Entrepreneurial Support Organization (ESO) that helps entrepreneurs turn their start-ups into viable, high-growth businesses. By leveraging the expertise of a world-class team of mentors, intensive programming, and introductions to the investor community, The Venture Center serves as an engine for economic growth in Arkansas and beyond.
About Venture Noire
Venture Noire is a 501c3 accredited non-profit diversity, equity, and inclusion partner. Venture Noire was formed to build confidence and profitability in underrepresented founders and entrepreneurs of color through curriculum, community, and access to capital. Through its programming, Venture Noire is on a mission to accelerate communities of color by catalyzing the success of minority-owned businesses in the digital economy.
Venture Noire’s ecosystem includes dozens of minority-owned start-ups that are on the cutting edge of technology, innovation, and creativity.
The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center is a higher-education-based economic development program that assists entrepreneurs, both new and seasoned. As the state’s premier business assistance provider, the ASBTDC is dedicated to helping small businesses achieve success and to promoting economic development throughout the state. Unique among Arkansas economic development organizations, ASBTDC serves businesses from any county in Arkansas, in any industry sector, at any stage of business development.