Small Business News

Entrepreneurs take home cash prizes for winning business ideas
Three start-ups receive $2,000 each
Published: Wednesday, November 12, 2014
By: Shaun Sappenfield

For the third consecutive year, StartUp Jefferson City has offered entrepreneurs an opportunity to pitch their business ideas for a chance at winning cash awards to help support future growth plans.  In total, eleven entrepreneurs took to the stage to pitch their business ideas on October 25th, at the Capital Event Center.  The event was hosted by StartUp Jefferson City and the Jefferson City Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Rural Missouri, Inc., a provider of SBA small business loans.

For the second year, Rural Missouri, Inc. has been the main sponsor of the Pitch It & Win It competition.   Without their generous contribution of cash awards, StartUp Jefferson City would not be able to offer this unique opportunity to the local community. 

“The Pitch event was a success,” said Dr. Eric S. Burgess PhD., Department Head and Assistant Professor in the Department of Business at Lincoln University.  “All of the entries demonstrated small business proposals with real potential.  I hope the three winners will use the award money to seed their business plans and make them become realities!”

A panel of judges, made up of business professionals from the private sector and business school professors from Lincoln University, selected three entrepreneurs who are prepared to take their businesses to the next phase of development.  Each pitch presentation was graded on five distinct criteria – Clarity, Credibility, Purpose, Realism and Passion. 

One for All
Lemonade Stand
Driver's Foods, BBQ & Products

The following start-ups each received a $2,000 cash award:

  • One for All (Diane Loepke) Provides a daycare program for seniors and adults with developmental disabilities. 

o   Use of prize money – support equipment, lease and supplies

  • Lemonade Stand  – (Todd Schonhardt) Fundraising tool kit that teaches entrepreneurship to youth

o   Use of prize money – office space and marketing

  • Driver’s Food BBQ & Products, LLC  – (Annette Driver) Production of a variety of dried spices and sauces

o   Use of prize money – packaging materials and delivery vehicle

“Since its inception three years ago, StartUp Jefferson City has focused on identifying startup businesses and providing them with the resources needed to start and grow their business,” said Chris Thompson, Business Development Specialist with the UM-Cole County Extension Office. “The pitch competition is a great vehicle to connect with and support entrepreneurs within our community.”

As StartUp Jefferson City moves past the Pitch It & Win It event, the group continues to provide support to each pitch participant and to anyone seeking professional business counseling.  If you are interested in receiving business counseling, please contact Shaun Sappenfield, Existing Business Manager at 638-3586 or by email @   

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