This past Monday, September 19, 2011, I had the good fortune of attending an entrepreneurial event/contest that made me feel good about our area. It was the Finale of The Edison Project. It is an event that is near and dear to my heart, because it came to fruition through our Brainstorming sessions as part of the Future Economy Council of Catawba County, which was created by the President of the Chamber of Commerce Danny Hearn.
Two years ago, I pontificated about the creation of an Adult Science Fair in this video entitled Jobs and Ingenuity . I brought this idea to our meetings and through discussions and with the human assets and resources that we have within that group, we had Bill Parrish of the Small Business and Technology Development Cent (SBTDC) and Dr. Jane Everson of the Appalachian State University Partnership run with these possibilities that were discussed. Dr. Everson and her group at the ASU Partnership were instrumental in the creation of the Innovation 2010 Conference that featured Andrew Hargadon last November. That conference was very informative in relation to communicating and conveying to business leaders what we can be doing to move this area forward in the near term future. Don't forget Dr. Garrett Hinshaw, who has opened up Catawba Valley Community College to all sorts of partnerships and new ventures. And now we fast forward to this Edison Project and the positive vibes that will result from this effort, which was headed by Bill Parrish.
I can't reiterate enough how important that I feel this event was. Credit goes to Danny Hearn for pushing this idea forward and to Bill Parrish for implementing it. Credit also goes to Alex Lee, CenturyLink, and Catawba County for putting the money up and putting their money where their mouth is, when it comes to innovation. We can talk about innovation and technology all day long, but initiatives and action display a community that is committed. Kudos to Kitty Barnes for being so supportive of this event and her participation in the event and so to goes appreciation for the efforts of the County Commissioners who are willing to take some risks to move the area forward. This is leadership.
Everyone who I have spoken with enjoyed this event and could not say enough about it. The participants are listed below. I thought all of the ideas of these participants had merit. It was great to see the support they received from their mentors in this process. I have spoken with Tom Shea over the past year and enjoy listening to his experiences and how he analyzes situations and undertsands how to move forward. I can easily see how he helped Mr. Washco win this competition. People such as Mr. Shea have a lot to offer to young entrepreneurs in our area and if we have more experienced people, such as Tom, helping out business people, then we can have more successful people in this area. It is great to see that the mentors and support staff have committed to helping out all of the participants over the upcoming year. Think of the friendships and networking that have been created through this process.
You see folks, this is how we are going to create jobs in our area. When these businesses get off of the ground, they will create employment opportunities, not only for the owners, but also possibilities of employment for others. That is how we will move this area forward. Not by creating bureaucracy and government commissions and committees. We are going to move this area forward through action and growing the private sector!!!
The following is the Catawba County Chamber of Commerce website link to the application submitted by the entities that entered this contest:
This is the list of the finalists and the companies that they are looking to start up:
Thank you to those entrepreneurs who recently submitted an application and executive summary to compete in Catawba County's first community-wide entrepreneurial competition, The Edison Project! Our Business Team, made up of business experts, has carefully reviewed each submission and is proud to announce this year's finalists!
Derek Detweiler, Gopherwood Studios (2nd Place) - develops high-quality web games in HTML5 that have been highlighted by Google in the US and SPIL Games in Europe. They currently have a competitive advantage by being one of a small number of HTML5 game developers. Business Team consultant: Bill Parrish, SBTDC
Christopher Niver, Pansocial Media (Had to drop out of the competetion due to timing and expecting a baby) Familywill implement social media strategies to develop online awareness, manage online reputations and encourage customer interaction for local businesses that may not have the in-house resources or technical knowledge to manage their online presence or utilize Web 2.0 marketing technologies.
Business Team consultant: Kevin McConnaghy, SBTDC, ASU, Boone
Billy Stephen Bradshaw, An Independent Step is an innovative product that foremost fills a void in the home medical assistance equipment market in the form of a unique stepstool with removable handrails for versatility and compact storage. Business Team consultant: Gary Muller, CVCC
Dana and Steve DeCanio, Puppy Paws specializes in the latest natural innovations of dog treat products. Poised to compete in this exciting new age of pure dog treats is our carob-based “Bark in a Bag,” not your average doggie biscuit. Business Team consultant: Bonnie Sweeting, CVCC
David Washco, Price Drive is a confidential website service for car buyers that eliminates car purchase negotiations and makes dealers compete and openly bid for business, ensuring customers receive the absolute best price. Business Team consultant: Tom Shea
Angela Green, DNA Winery will be a new winery offering a wide variety of fruit berry wines. Nine years of experience, centralized location to reach the east coast, and a new concept in the storage and serving of wine will enable this family hobby to make it to the marketplace. Business Team consultant: Bryon Hicks, SBTDC, Hickory
Brad Rhoney, Brax-Apps, Inc. is a mobile app development company that will be marketed globally. Brax-Apps will focus on productivity and reference apps complimented by durable goods and services that they will manufacture. Business Team consultant: Tony Mifsud
Valerie Huffman, Craft Brew Shop will be a niche retail store that specializes in craft beer. This niche market has seen incredible growth even while the beer industry at large has not. They plan to capitalize on this growth market and play upon the advantages of our regional location. Business Team consultant: Jeff Neuville
Peter Lohr, Advanced Hydrogen Technologies Corporation (3rd Place) - will penetrate an existing half-billion dollar market with its new oil free technology. AHTC aims to eclipse the competition of add-on power enhancers such as turbo and blower systems by offering a hydrogen based add-on motor that provides additional acceleration to any vehicle. Business Team consultant: Tom Frenier
ROUND TWO: Worth 50 Points
For the next round in the competition, each finalist has been paired with a member from the Business Team in order to gain assistance, if needed, in writing and perfecting his or her business plan. All nine finalists are to submit their final drafts to be judged by the panel of investors by Friday, September 2nd.
ROUND THREE: Worth 40 Points
On Wednesday, August 31st, each finalist will then have 20 minutes to present their business plans in front of a panel of judges, made up of angel investors from across North Carolina. Once each entrepreneur’s points are tallied, the top three finalists will be determined.
THE FINAL ROUND: Worth 10 Points
The Edison Project's grand prize winner will be determined at a community-wide event in the third and final round of the competition. During this event on Thursday, September 16th, the top three finalists will have 5 minutes to convince the audience that they are most deserving of the final ten points awarded in the competition. Once each entrepreneur has presented, the audience will then be able to vote on which business idea they think is the most creative, innovative, and viable.
Top 3 Winners:
1st place $5,000 -
2nd place $3,000
3rd place $2,000
In addition to the cash prize, the top three businesses will be awarded full scholarships to the Investor Ready Entrepreneur Workshop & FastTrac Kaufmann Foundation Series at CVCC.
ALL APPLICANTS:EdisonProject Business Team training, counseling and resources to refine and enhance your business model for the next year.