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Asheville, NC – Venture Asheville’s first Wicked Biz Pitch Competition at Wicked Weed Brewing gave seven area entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their ideas in front of a panel of local business professionals, investors and an audience of peers. Held Monday, September 30th, each presenter had three minutes to sell their business, followed by Q&A with the panel of four judges.
The seven finalists included a natural skin care company; a loyalty rewards program to support local business; a carbon, molded sitar manufacturer; and a vertical garden designed for small spaces.
Paul Szurek, Chair for the EDC Board, commented, “Growth of innovative knowledge businesses is a key component of Asheville’s economic development strategy, and events like Wicked Biz Pitch raise awareness and provide education for idea generators in our community. Venture Asheville, as a program of the EDC, anticipates continuing this momentum as we try to increase the visibility of both the start-up and angel investor segments of the community.”
After considerable deliberation, the $1,000 first place went to Sean McNeal, whose “Auto Growler” will allow breweries and retailers to fill beer growlers more efficiently. The high design, computerized mechanism will be more sanitary and eliminate wasting beer in the fill process.
"I had no idea what to expect at the Wicked Biz Pitch since it's in its first year, but I had a blast. I was blown away by the high caliber of ideas and pitches. And the judges were incredibly knowledgeable and asked all of the right questions. What a superb event with a potential to have a powerful effect on Asheville,” McNeal said.
The $750 second prize, donated by Grant Moss at Adapt IP Ventures, went to Brendan Fitzgerald’s “Daily Comedy App.” The app taps into the vast market for online humor by cultivating the most popular comedic content on the web and offering it to the user as a daily “comedy shot.”
Said Emmy Parker, Senior Brand Manager at Moog Music and one of the judges, “It’s great to see such a diversity of ideas out there and so much enthusiasm within the entrepreneurial community. I was genuinely impressed.”
The other judges on the “Shark Tank” style panel included Rick Guthy, founder of Wicked Weed Brewing; Laura Webb, president of Webb Investment Services; and Grant Moss, CEO of Adapt IP Ventures.
Rick Guthy, an entrepreneur himself, put it this way, “Sometimes you just need to put a little money behind a great idea and see where it takes the entrepreneur.”
To keep up with events and entrepreneurial happenings in the Asheville area, please visit the Economic Development Coalition Asheville-Buncombe County at www.ashevillechamber.org/economic-development.
About Venture Asheville
Venture Asheville, a program of the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County, is dedicated to nurturing and promoting the entrepreneurial community. Venture Asheville hosts annual interactive events, including Ignite Asheville, designed to highlight start-ups and provide connections to local resources and investors, supporting a collaborative entrepreneurial ecosystem.
About the Economic Development Coalition Asheville-Buncombe County
The EDC for Asheville-Buncombe County is a public-private partnership committed to: creating and retaining high quality jobs, community leadership, and being a resource for better business decisions. The EDC accomplishes this mission through its four core services: business retention and expansion, small business and entrepreneurship, research, and marketing and recruitment. The EDC is funded by Buncombe County, the City of Asheville, the Town of Weaverville, the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and the AVL 5x5 Campaign.