On October 18, Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union (TVFCU) will host their annual Idea Leap Grant Pitch Competition in which five finalists will compete to win one of five grants to support and expand their small business – grand prize: $50,000, first place: $20,000, and three runners-up: $10,000.
The competing businesses, coming from an original pool of nearly 150 applicants, are:
- Be Caffeinated – a chain of four drive-through coffee shops around Chattanooga
- Mountain View Low Vision Services – a provider of products, services and rehabilitation for VIPs (visually impaired people)
- Neutral Ground Chattanooga – a New Orleans-style Po-Boy and Yakamein restaurant
- NewTerra Compost – a composting and waste management company for homes, businesses and events
- Sleepyhead Coffee – a coffee shop with vegan pastries
In the pitch competition, each business owner will take the stage at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center to explain how they plan to use the grant funding, the impact they have on the local community and how they plan to improve and expand their business in the coming years.
“We’re making the Fifth Annual Idea Leap Grant competition bigger than the program has ever been before,” said Tommy Nix, vice president of business and commercial services. “We hope that many community members join us on Oct. 18 for the pitch competition, a reception hosted by our friends at Chambliss Startup Group and an educational luncheon.”
New this year, TVFCU is hosting the first-ever Idea Leap Luncheon at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center on Tuesday, October 18 at 11:30 a.m. The luncheon, catered by Chatter Box Cafe and including vegetarian options, will feature an inspirational panel of successful local entrepreneurs discussing their experiences as small business owners. Melanie Krautstrunk of Hutton and Smith Brewing Company, Aaron Hoff of Hoff & Pepper and Michael Rice of Mad Priest Coffee Roasters will engage with Greg Funderburg, anchor on Newschannel 9, who will moderate the discussion and share his entrepreneurial experiences as an author, fitness enthusiast and public speaker.
On Oct. 18 at 5:00 p.m., Chambliss Startup Group will host the Chambliss Startup Social – an indoor/outdoor reception at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center before the pitch competition. The reception will feature drinks and hors d’oeuvres from Party Bites, Hutton & Smith’s craft beers and a DJ.
At the pitch competition, starting at 6:15 p.m. after the Chambliss Startup Social, the five Idea Leap finalists will present their businesses before a panel of volunteer community judges who will award five grants at the end of the evening. The event will also feature a special guest keynote speaker to be announced soon.
Due to limited seating, an RSVP is required to attend each event. RSVP information can be found at tvfcu.com/idealeap.
The Idea Leap Grant is an extension of the credit union’s Idea Leap Loan Initiative that was created specifically for small businesses in 2016. To date, TVFCU has funded more than $4 million in loans to emerging and early-stage businesses through the loan initiative. Furthermore, TVFCU has awarded nearly $200,000 in Idea Leap Grants and scholarships.
For more information about the Idea Leap Grant, please visit tvfcu.com/IdeaLeapGrant.