And the Winner is… Rev Birmingham’s The Big Pitch

Hey everybody! I know I haven’t posted in a while. I’m trying to transition back to graduate school. (yay!) In other words, I’ve been busy mentally.

I’m just going to give a super quick recap of Rev Birmingham’s The Big Pitch at Trim Tab Brewery this afternoon. This business plan competition was definitely motivation for anyone with entrepreneurial dreams. Today, the top 10 finalist competed for the chance to win $10k in capital for their business. Not only were the contestants evidence of the talent and potential in Birmingham, but the audience was also filled with other entrepreneurs, marketing experts, graphic designers, poets,  *bloggers* and I have no idea what else. Forget what you’ve heard. There’s a future for Birmingham… and it’s bright.   If you missed it this year, there’s good news. Brian Bucher of PNC Bank, one of the events major sponsors, spoke of  doing this again next year with more money and more prizes.

FYI: Please excuse the writing style in this post.  I left out the usual bells and whistles. In an effort to get this to you right away, my notes are very short and to the point. (Which for me means you may just be reading predicates.) Here are the details you really want to know:

The Judges:

(right to left) Lisa Cooper- City of Birmingham, Bob Dickerson-Birmingham Resource Center, Joe McCarty-Timberline Investments, Brian Bucher- PNC Bank

The  $10,000 Winner:
Baking Bandits-Kristen Farmer Hall
Baking Bandits specializes in hand crafted high quality baked goods.  Wants to use money for renovations to their event space that would create a retail store front with commercial kitchen . Currently selling out at Pepper Place Market. Planning to also hire and train staff. Yes, they do deliver. 

The $5,000 AL.COM People’s Choice Award Winner:
Magic City Spoolbus- Christine McLean & Lillis Taylor

Mobile studio that teaches sewing and textile crafting to children.  Bus will be available for special events and after school programming.  Plans to completely subsidize arts programming to Birmingham City Schools to provide free arts education with profits from camps and special events.

Bare Naked Noodles- Linda Croley

A true Italian, she moved from New York  to Birmingham and creates fresh ravioli from all local ingredients. Her  pasta is currently sold in 14 stores and 8 restaurants in the Birmingham-Metro area. She wants to use the prize money to purchase higher quality packaging for frozen goods. The new packaging will  be more aesthetically pleasing and will allow her to ship frozen ravioli which will expand her grocery store presence.

Life Touch Massage-Lemar & Tiffany Storey

Lemar Storey of Life Touch Massage shows judge Lisa Cooper why their business should win $10k

The couple plans to open a massage spa for locals and travelers in downtown Birmingham. The area lacks a spa with nearest service  being 17 miles outside of the area. They have are already secured a space near the Sheraton and are planning  a launch date in early 2015.  The couple wants to use prize money to purchase equipment.

Magic City Sweet Ice- Wani & David Shaw

(excuse that hat!)

 The couple currently operates a push cart and plans to use prize money to open a retail space and purchase equipment. The new equipment  would allow them to manufacture the Italian ice locally. Their Italian ice is friendly to the weight conscious consumer with only 15 calories per ounce. They have a “Be Your Own Boss” model that trains employees to own and operate their own carts.

Eugene’s Hot Chicken- Zebbie Carney
Carney wants to open the first hot chicken restaurant serving chicken with 3 levels of flavor: mild, hot, & hot damn. His restaurant will also serve traditional fried chicken and sides. He wants to use the prize money to secure and design a restaurant space.

Contract Concierge- Ira Weiss
Ira is working to develop a mobile app that allows customers to assign items on their task list to a concierge service. Customers are  billed for the amount of time the service takes. He plans to use electric bicycles to accomplish the tasks in order to avoid traffic. The service targets people who live/ work in downtown Birmingham. Plans to use the prize money to purchase more bicycles.

Piper & Leaf- Caleb Christopher & Conner Knapp
Family company selling locally sourced artisan teas. Based in Huntsville, the company is currently a popular favorite at Pepper Place Market. Teas can cost you $8 for a quart, but the glass mason jar can be refilled for $4 at any time.  Wants to use the prize money to open and train a management team of 5 people in Birmingham.  You can also buy tea online or join a tea of the month club.

Heyday Retromart- Steve Dapkus
Heyday retromart is #1 on Google for work shirt name badges.  Currently selling vintage work shirts and travel badges. Started in 2012, Dapkus has visions of becoming an iconic tourist retail destination through a factory store. Currently operating the business out of a 20 square ft bedroom. Plans to use prize money to get larger space, equipment, and hire business services.

Sprout & Pour- Amanda Blake Turner
Cold-pressed juicery offering farm to bottle nutrition. They will soon be opening a retail store in Edgewood next year. Juice uses completely local produce. Currently has relationships with businesses promoting healthy culture.  Cold press juice  has a wide range of health benefits and lasts four days in the refrigerator.  Plans to use prize money to purchase delivery vehicle that can also be used as a mobile retail unit.

Well, that’s all folks! To my business minded chaps out there I say, “Don’t give up”! There is so much untapped business potential in this city. Get your business plans ready now, because you never know when it will be your turn to give the big pitch.

Happy Pitching Birmingham!

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