Small Business News

RJ's Real Italian Ice scooped up $5,000 cash prize
Published: Friday, December 6, 2019

For the eighth consecutive year, StartUp Jefferson City offered five entrepreneurs an opportunity to pitch their business ideas for a chance at winning a $5,000 cash prize to support future growth plans.  At the Chamber’s annual Business and Lifestyles Expo, five local entrepreneur teams pitched their startup business plans.  The competition was hosted by StartUp JC and the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Rural Missouri, Inc., a provider of SBA small business loans.

Rural Missouri, Inc. (RMI) was once again the main sponsor of the Pitch It & Win It competition as their mission of improving the economic well-being of individuals, businesses and communities fits the competition’s overall goal.  Without RMI’s support, StartUp JC would not be able to offer this unique opportunity to the local community and is critical to the success of the competition. “Zola Finch and her staff are very supportive of our efforts, as we both are pursuing economic growth and stability within our areas of focus,” said Donna Deetz, StartUp JC committee member. 

StartUp JC received twelve pitch applications from local entrepreneurs, and each registrant was then provided a one-on-one prescreening meeting with business counselors from the Missouri Women’s Business Center, Lincoln University-Small Business Development Center, and Chamber staff. The prescreening meetings offered counselors an opportunity to vet each business and/or business idea, and afforded counselors an opportunity share their insight. 

From this juncture, the StartUp JC committee selected five teams of entrepreneurs and invited them to make their business pitch to a panel of judges. Business ideas ranged from a mobile drug testing company to a zero-gravity floatation therapy service.  Each of the pitch participants provided a detailed synopsis of their business plan, accompanied by a visual (PowerPoint) overview, all of which addressed seven specific criteria points consistent with a business plan outline – Problem, Solution, Market Opportunity, Business Model, Competition and Sustainable Advantage, Management Team, and Financial Outcomes. 

For the second consecutive year, the committee provided a monetary award of $5,000 for the business idea that provided the greatest overall economic impact on the community.   

The team of Rita and Jeff Huff (RJ’s Real Italian Ice) secured the $5,000 prize with their all-natural Italian ice business.  “Rita and I currently produce Italian Ice using natural ingredients free of artificial flavors or dyes and sell at various locations and activities around town, catering of weddings, and corporate events, etc.”  Over the past year, the Huff’s have doubled sales of their mobile business

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