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Metro East Start-Up Challenge
Metro East Start-Up Challenge

News - 2018

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VAST Produce of Waterloo is 2018 Metro East Startup Challenge Winner

November 2, 2018, 1:50 AM

SBDCSouthern Illinois University Edwardsville’s fifth annual Metro East Startup Challenge (MESC), a regional business plan competition for entrepreneurs and startups, announced its three winners today at the Doubletree Hotel in Collinsville with Waterloo-based VAST Produce earning the $10,000 grand prize.

Beastman Tea, LLC, founded by Bradford Eastman, won the $6,000 second place prize. Eli Ball earned the $4,000 third place award for Midway Spark, LLC.

Brothers Benjamin, Jonathan, Tyler, Andrew, William and Dylan Meuth have created a Virtual Aquaponics and Sustainable Growth technology that enables them to grow fish, premium lettuce and herbs year round for St. Louis metro area consumers and restaurants. Their produce is already available at local farmers markets as well as at Soulard Market in St. Louis. The cash award will enable the brothers to invest in the equipment needed to expand and promote their business.

With Beastman Tea, Eastman hopes to promote healthy, naturally flavored green tea products without all of the added chemicals and sugars found in most ready-to-drink beverages. His teas are already available at Green Earth Grocery in Edwardsville and will be available at other outlets in the near future.

Midway Spark, founded by Eli Ball, has created an app for use by zoos and potentially other public venues across the country, allowing the venue to provide up-to-date information for attendees and provide the option to donate through the app. They also offer a zoo the ability to easily update their information about their animals, special events and sponsorship opportunities. 

The top three teams presented their winning business concepts at the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois Board of Directors meeting Friday morning before a live audience of Leadership Council members and invited guests. The member-based organization includes more than 200 leaders in business, industry, education, government, and labor.

Jo Ann DiMaggio May, Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for the Metro East at SIUE director and MESC organizer, along with SBDC Business Specialist Marti Guntren and graduate assistants Adrinè Krikorian and Chelsea Mettler are excited about the amount of participation and hard-work the applicants put into their business ideas and presentations.

“I am humbly impressed by the large number of superior quality concepts brought forth by the participants,” said DiMaggio May. “It made our evaluation process and final decision extremely difficult.

“Our goal is to continue to increase the awareness and reach of the Challenge’s vast opportunities. The Startup Challenge is becoming a recognized fixture in the region’s entrepreneurial community, and the Illinois Metro East SBDC at SIUE looks forward to its continued growth and success.”  The SBDC and East St. Louis organize and manage the competition with support from the SIUE School of Business.

The three winners will also receive in-kind support from Curtis Bailey, Huffman Law and accounting services from Scheffel Boyle to help them form their businesses and manage their start-up expenses.

Finalists in the 2018 Metro East Startup Challenge also included:

  • Hoot Owl Software, Jim and Ryan Sheldon
  • The Senala Group, Veronica Armouti
  • Dry Street Gardens, Elliander Elldridge
  • Core Tactical Advantage Concepts, Chuck Cadell
  • Visionary Tech Solutions, Shawn Epps

The SBDC organized a group of business mentors and startup advisors to assist the 17 MESC semi-finalists with their business plans.  For the fifth consecutive year, Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois, SIUE School of Business and University Park at SIUE were the Startup Challenge’s cornerstone sponsors. America’s Central Port, Scott Credit Union, and the City of Collinsville were this year’s premier sponsors.

Other sponsors included the City of Edwardsville, Growth Corp, St. Clair County, Town & Country Bank (Edwardsville and Fairview Heights locations), Madison County, First Bank, Anders CPAs and Advisors, the City of Alton, Carrollton Bank, the City of Highland, Commerce Bank, the Riverbend Growth Association, the City of Columbia and the Barber Murphy Group.  

The Illinois SBDC for the Metro East at SIUE works directly with entrepreneurs and small business owners located in the nine-county Metro East region of Calhoun, Jersey, Madison, Bond, Clinton, St. Clair, Washington, Monroe and Randolph. It is funded through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville as a service to the region’s entrepreneurial and business community.

The Illinois SBDC Network provides one-stop assistance to individuals by means of counseling, training, research and advocacy for new ventures and existing small businesses. As a key member of this Network, the Illinois SBDC for the Metro East at SIUE and East St. Louis delivers these important services to its clients while supporting the goals and objectives of both the SIUE School of Business and the University at large. To learn how these no-cost services may help your small business, contact the Illinois SBDC for the Metro East at SIUE and East St. Louis at (618) 650-2929 or sbdcedw@gmail.com.

Photo (L-R): Shown are Jo Ann DiMaggio May with winners Dylan Mueth, Tyler Mueth and William Mueth, and School of Business Dean Tim Schoenecker, PhD.


2018 Metro East Start-Up Challenge Offers $20,000 in Prizes

June 14, 2018, 4:55 PM

Entrepreneurs and new business startups are invited to compete in Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s fifth annual regional business plan competition – the 2018 Metro East Start-Up Challenge (MESC).

The MESC is organized by the Illinois Metro East Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at SIUE and facilitated with the help of the SIUE School of Business. The purpose of the Challenge is to identify, encourage and support entrepreneurs and business startups across the SBDC’s service area, including Calhoun, Jersey, Madison, Bond, Clinton, St. Clair, Washington, Monroe and Randolph Counties.

The first-place winner will receive a $10,000 cash prize. Second and third place winners will be awarded $6,000 and $4,000, respectively. Prize winners will also receive an array of in-kind professional services including legal assistance from Curtis R. Bailey, Huffman Law Offices, P.C., accounting services from Scheffel Boyle, advertising from Advantage News, and a free financial review from Prudential. One of the semifinalists will also win a free 12-month lease at America’s Central Port.

The Challenge is made possible through regional support and includes the following sponsors:

  • SIUE School of Business
  • Anders CPA & Advisors
  • The City of Collinsville
  • The Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois
  • The City of Edwardsville
  • Town and Country Bank (Edwardsville and Fairview Heights locations)
  • America’s Central Port
  • First Bank
  • St. Clair County Economic Development
  • Carrollton Bank
  • Growth Corp
  • Madison County Economic Development
  • The City of Alton
  • Riverbend Growth Association
  • FCB Banks
  • The City of Columbia, Illinois
  • Barber Murphy Group
  • University Park at SIUE
  • Country Financial, Katie Jackson's Office, Troy, Ill.

“The Metro East Start-Up Challenge elevates the discussion of and support for entrepreneurship across our region,” said Jo Ann Di Maggio May, SBDC director. “Interest in the annual Challenge continues to grow with each passing year.”

The 2018 MESC invites entrepreneurs and startup businesses from the four target industries of information technology, manufacturing, healthcare and sustainable food.

For a startup business enterprise to be eligible, it must have been established after April 30, 2015, and be headquartered in the SBDC’s nine-county service area. For pre-venture entrepreneurs, proposed new business operations will need to be located within the same nine counties.

“The competition itself is a great experience for anyone interested in owning their own business,” said Joshua Colclasure, co-owner of Pint Perfect LLC. “Sammie and I were happy we could be a part of it.”

“After winning the competition in 2017, we have been able to launch our company and start taking on clients,” Colclasure continued. “Going to the SBDC is easily one of the best decisions we have made for our company. The team at the SBDC is great, and they are a valuable resource. The MESC competition is icing on the cake!”

“Although it was a lot of work to put together a thorough business plan, we are thankful that we took the time to do so and participate in the Challenge,” said 2015 third-place finisher Tammy Rahm, co-owner of Stubborn German Brewing Company. “It forced us to look at every detail of the business and plan its direction. Now that we’ve been open for a year, we’re in the process of reviewing the business plan, and ensuring we’re on the right track.”

“The MESC was an invaluable experience,” said 2014 second-place finisher Adam Stumpf, owner of Stumpy’s Spirits. “It allowed us to hone our business plan and define a route to market before launching our distillery. The feedback from the judges was an integral part of guiding our business in its first year. Bootstrapping our distillery forced us to stretch every dollar we had, and the award provided by the MESC was a key part in getting our business off the ground.”

For more information on the 2018 MESC or to initiate the application process, visit siue.edu/metroeaststartup. The entry deadline is Thursday, Aug. 2. Semi-finalists will be announced Friday, Aug. 10, with finalists notified on Thursday, Oct. 11.

The Challenge will announce its cash prizewinners on Friday, Nov. 2, during the monthly Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois meeting.

The Illinois SBDC Network is a service to the community supported, in part, by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the Illinois Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and the SIUE School of Business.

SIUE operates two Small Business Development Centers and the International Trade Center. All three Centers provide resources, information and support to entrepreneurs, and small business owners in the nine-county Metro East region of Calhoun, Jersey, Madison, Bond, Clinton, St. Clair, Washington, Monroe and Randolph. By aiding entrepreneurs and companies in defining their path to success, the SBDC positively impacts the Metro East by strengthening the business community, creating and retaining new jobs, and encouraging new investment. When appropriate, the SBDC strives to affiliate its ties to the region to support the goals and objectives of both the SIUE School of Business and the University at large.

To learn how the SBDC can help your small business, contact the Metro East SBDC at (618) 650-2929 or sbdecw@gmail.com.


SBDC Assists Metro East Start-Up Challenge Winners Pint Perfect in Pursuing Business Success

March 29, 2018, 8:55 AM

Pint Perfect Owners Sammie Williams and Josh CoclasureJosh Colclasure and Sammie Williams have been friends since childhood. They have always talked about starting a business together and finally had the chance to put their idea for bar and restaurant draft line cleaning services to the test in the Metro East Start-Up Challenge (MESC).

The Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for the Metro East at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) introduced the competition in 2014. The Start-Up Challenge engages multiple sponsors and business professional mentors each year for entrepreneurs to assess how their business plan stacks up.

In 2017, Colclasure and Williams won first place in the MESC for Pint Perfect and received start-up money from local sponsors, in-kind services, mentors and more. With that support and momentum, they have been moving along in starting their venture.

“Things have been going great for us with the help and support of SBDC Director Jo Ann (DiMaggio) May,” Colclasure stated. “The service and resources from winning the MESC have been wonderful. We cannot thank the companies that provided their in-kind services enough. This has truly taken us a long way in the process of starting our business.” 

“Jo Ann is always there to push us to keep moving forward with our plans and networking us with an attorney, financial referrals and possible investors,” Williams said. “We wouldn’t be where we are today without the help of Jo Ann, she has been the best help from the start.”

Colclasure and Williams have registered for a class through Micro Matic. It is an intensive draft line system class to become certified in the process, equipment and more. While the certification is not required, they want to improve individually and position their company as an industry leader. The certification will provide a competitive advantage over other businesses in the field.

Pint Perfect keeps receiving positive feedback for their cleaning services or drink consultation ideas from bar owners and distributors. They are constantly growing their potential client list.

Bar and restaurant owners, and beer distributors realize there is a need for this service. Routine draft line cleaning is often neglected, so it will be convenient and beneficial for businesses to use Pint Perfect’s services. Most consumers do not know this service is needed in bars and restaurants. Pint Perfect also wants to educate the community that they should care about this issue. They can demonstrate dirty draft line pictures as proof.

Lack of cleanliness in the lines affects beer taste and the quality. Owners forget about cleaning draft lines or do not clean them as efficiently as they should. That is one of the reasons Colclasure and Williams want to offer their services and expertise. They want to raise standards for everyone – consumers, business owners, distributors and manufacturers.

They hope people eventually will recognize the “Pint Perfect Certified” sticker in a business’ window and think, “I am going here, because I know they are efficient with cleaning and hold owners accountable for quality products.”

Colclasure says, “Right now, we are putting hard work into growing what we will have.” Williams mentioned that the synergy between the two friends will benefit the business overall. While Williams has worked in the alcohol/bar industry for many years, Colclasure knows the structural side.

The SBDC is excited to see where Pint Perfect goes. “It has been a wonderful journey to be part of and an honor supporting Josh and Sammie,” DiMaggio May said. “These two friends are passionate, hardworking and eager to share their services. Pint Perfect will be a true success, because of the time and effort these young men have invested. I am just happy to be a little part of their story.”

Pint Perfect is projected to officially offer their services and expertise sometime in April 2018. Contact Pint Perfect at Sam@pintperfectbeer.com or Josh@pintperfectbeer.com. They can also be found on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. For more information, visit pintperfectbeer.com.

For more information on the Metro East Start-Up Challenge, visit siue.edu/metroeaststartup.

The Illinois SBDC for the Metro East assists start-up ventures like Pint Perfect as well as existing businesses headquartered in the nine-county region of Calhoun, Jersey, Madison, Bond, Clinton, St. Clair, Washington, Monroe and Randolph. It is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and SIUE as a service to Illinois small businesses.

By aiding entrepreneurs and companies in defining their path to success, the SBDC network positively impacts the Metro East by strengthening the business community, creating and retaining new jobs and encouraging new investment. It enhances the region’s economic interests by providing one-stop assistance to individuals by means of counseling, training, research and advocacy for new ventures and existing small businesses. When appropriate, the SBDC strives to affiliate its ties to the region to support the goals and objectives of both the SIUE School of Business and the University at large.

To learn about the SBDC, contact the IL SBDC for the Metro East at SIUE at (618) 650-2929.

Photo (L-R): Sammie Williams and Josh Colclasure, owners of Pint Perfect.

For More Information

Contact the Small Business

Development Center (SBDC)

618-650-2929

sbdcedw@gmail.com

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