TEXARCANA, Ark. – A large group of small business enthusiasts made their seats in front of a panel of judges in Christchurch, Texarkana, on Thursday.
In the opening pitch potential entrepreneurs bring a vision and a dream in anticipation of earning seed money for their investments. $ 5,000 for first place, 500 2,500 for second and $ 1,000 for third were at risk.
The first place winner was Jesse Darby Tales, Hypicon Events (Sports Lounge); Second place, Ryan Overlock, TAGN Inc. (Reacht Streep tie-down with the traditional printed slogan “they go nowhere”); Third place, Britney Haynes, Evans Eco Exchange (Zero Waste Replenishment Store).
The event started at around 3pm, with the entrepreneurs going through the initial stages and cleaning their screws. As the evening drew to a close, the finalists made their final patches and the judges, all local business owners, made their final choices.
“We’ve been trying to make this happen for two years now,” said Leslie Duclo, a volunteer organizer for Pitch Eight. “We have been delayed due to the quake and other concerns, but we are here, finally doing it.
Patch is the brainchild of Texarkana’s strategic execution initiative.
“The plan and timing have changed over the last two years, although the mission remains the same,” said Judy Morgan, a volunteer at the event.
“Imagine if Texarkana was a magnet for talent and business. The idea is that Texarkana had a fight against brainwashing. Imagine that we are a place where talent and drive can find a home.”
“It is often assumed that a large industry will leave operations here as a driver of business and economic activities,” said Anna McDowell, chief executive of Main Street Texarkana. “But real entrepreneurial growth comes from small business, with a small operator vision. With this event, we wanted an opportunity for some and an opportunity to help them get started.”
Other participants were not left empty-handed. Chamber of Commerce representative Robin Bass said the agency has the assets to help small operators get their start.
“We will help them refer them to the SBDC (Small Business Development Center) office,” she said. “They can help them provide marketing materials and create business plans with which many new businesses often need a lot of help. What other resources, such as digital and print marketing, can we (the Chamber) do?” Help with communication. Also local financial institutions that help with small business loans, we can guide them there too. “
Judge Olivia Hernandez knows what it’s like to be an entrepreneurial hopeful.
“I’ve been in business in this city for 15 years,” said Hernandez, who owns a Vero Latin store on New Boston Street with his sister, Veronica Hernandez. “I look at these business people, their plans, I see if they are strong. I look at who they want to meet, how they want to meet the needs of this city, its youth, its families, all of our local communities.”
As for her own entrepreneurial journey, she has come a long way.
“I’m from Chicago, where there are stores like mine in every block,” she said. “Here, in Texarkana, it was unique. When I built it 15 years ago, it was nothing like that. We started it 15 years ago with the help of another local business owner, Joe Oliver (Kettle Mains). He initially rented out our property to us. He was very impressed with the way we did business. He helped us buy our building, which is now our property. Trust us. “