From Inside Business
Three winners of the second annual STARTUP Downtown Franklin contest are on their way to making their business dreams come true.
Katrina Sykes-Manley of Spoken Interior Homes won the $20,000 grand prize. Her business centers on home décor, accessories and gift items. Sykes-Manley also offers interior decorating services and educational design workshops.
Kim Mallon, owner of Children’s Therapy Concepts, was awarded a $10,000 second place prize. Her business provides outpatient services in pediatric physical, occupational and speech therapies to children ages three and older.
And Andrea Epps of Tiers To You, which bakes custom cakes and cupcakes, received an $8,000 third place award.
Each of the businesses will open their storefront in Downtown Franklin by Sept. 30. Winners must spend their allocated money by Dec. 31.
The Downtown Franklin Association, in partnership with Franklin Southampton Economic Development, announced the winners on May 9.
“We had really great community support this go around,” said Lauren V. Sloan, business development manager with Franklin Southampton Economic Development. “We opened the awards night to the public and had about 75 people show up who were unrelated to the business competition in any way.”
The contest’s focus is to promote financial assistance and business training within downtown Franklin.
“Everyone is really excited about the new businesses…both current business owners and community patrons,” Sloan said. “Franklin is a great city to start a business in because the community is enthusiastically supportive.”
In order to qualify, participants were required to submit an online application and attend business classes that covered topics such as innovation, branding, accounting, finance and credit, sales and marketing and business planning.
Participants also had to provide a finalized business plan and present a five to 10 minute pitch to a panel of industry leaders.
And for the final class, Sloan said local business leaders, primarily from the Franklin Business District’s board of directors, met with contestants one-on-one.
“They went through their business plans with them and I think it was eye opening for the contestants to have another set of eyes look them over,” Sloan said.
The judges included Joe Edenfield, an associate business professor at Paul D. Camp Community College; Toi Hunter, a business manager with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership; Zack Miller, the founder of Hatch; and Judy Winslow, Smithfield’s director of tourism.
StartWheel’s mission is to centralize and mobilize efforts that foster the growth of entrepreneurism in our regional innovation economy. We aim to guide and cultivate an entrepreneurial network in HRVA where talent, resources, information and leadership come together.