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

News - 2017

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Pint Perfect of Alton is 2017 Metro East Startup Challenge Winner

November 3, 2017, 11:50 AM

2017 Metro East Start-up Challenge Winners

The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Metro East Startup Challenge (MESC), a regional business plan competition for entrepreneurs and startups, announced its three cash prize winners today with Alton-based Pint Perfect earning first place and the grand prize of $10,000.

Idea Factory Educational Services (IFES), founded by Nicole Grimm, a former employment relations major at SIUE, won the $6,000 second place prize. The mother-daughter team of Emma and Robyn Starkey grabbed the $4,000 third place award for Harvest Market.

Partners Joshua Colclasure and Sammie Williams founded Pint Perfect, which plans to offer both draft line servicing and bar cleaning to local bars and restaurants to provide a cleaner and safer beer drinking experience to the St. Louis metropolitan area. The duo’s passion and drive, along with their experience in brewing and draft beers, helped them stand out among the competitors. The cash award will enable the pair to invest in the equipment needed to get their business up and running.

With IFES, Grimm hopes to use her teaching background to provide language education services to children and behavior management techniques for parents in early childhood centers in St Clair County.

The Starkeys hope to expand Harvest Market’s Saturday and Sunday farmers market in Columbia into a year-round attraction for residents of Monroe County and southern St. Louis. They also plan to expand into a local grocer, small deli and eventual community commercial kitchen.

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 Metro East Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at SIUE director and MESC co-organizer, along with SBDC graduate students Adrinè Krikorian and Chelsea Mettler are excited about the amount of participation and hard-work applicants put into their business ideas and presentations and hope to see continuous community involvement next year.

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

“Our goal is to continue to increase awareness and reach of this 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 three winners will also receive in-kind support from the attorneys at Mathis, Marifian and Richter, accounting services from Scheffel Boyle along with human resources services from Insperity HR Outsourcing Services to help them form their businesses and manage their start-up expenses.

Semi-finalists in the 2017 Metro East Startup Challenge included:

  • Drone Zone, Inc., Warren Benning
  • Font & Pen, Melissa Meske
  • Strait Laced Beauty, Jameshia Nixon
  • PG Shimmer, Jacquelene Greene and Isaac Greene, co-founders
  • iDO Fund, Paul Hermanson

For the fourth straight year, the SBDC at SIUE, along with strong support from various business and economic development partners, spearheaded the MESC.

The SBDC organized a group of business mentors and startup advisors to assist the 15 MESC semi-finalists with their business plans.  For the fourth consecutive year, Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois, SIUE School of Business and University Park at SIUE were the Startup Challenge’s cornerstone sponsors. Insperity HR Outsourcing Services and the City of Collinsville were this year’s premier sponsors.

Other sponsors included Woodforest National Bank, Anders CPA, FCB Banks, the City of Edwardsville, Commerce Bank, Curtis C. Bailey, the Riverbend Growth Association and Artigem. The Illinois Metro East SBDC organized and managed the competition with the support of the SIUE School of Business.

Photo (L-R): Front Row: Illinois Metro East SBDC Director Jo Ann DiMaggio May, Idea Factory Educational Services founder by Nicole Grimm, Pint Perfect Partners Joshua Colclasure and Sammie Williams,  Emma and Robyn Starkey of Harvest Market, SIUE School of Business Dean Tim Schoenecker.

Back Row: Chris Kirk of First Mid-Illinois Bank & Trust, Susan Morse of Insperity and Collinsville City Manager Mitch Bair.

2017 Metro East Start-Up Challenge Offers $15,000 in Prizes

MESC logo

2017 Metro East Start-up Challenge entrepreneurs and new business startups are invited to compete in the 2017 Metro East Start-Up Challenge (MESC), Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s fourth annual regional business plan competition.

The MESC is organized by the Illinois Metro East Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at SIUE. 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 $7,000 cash prize. Second and third place winners will receive $5,000 and $3,000, respectively. Prize winners will also receive an array of in-kind professional services.

The Challenge is made possible through tremendous regional support. Sponsors include the SIUE School of Business, Anders CPA, the City of Collinsville, the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois, the City of Edwardsville, FCB Banks, Anders CPA & Advisors, Commerce Bank, Curt Bailey-Attorney at Law, Riverbend Growth Association, Artigem and University Park at SIUE.

SIUE’s School of Business, the SBDC’s host organization, will assist with facilitating the competition.

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

The 2017 MESC invites entrepreneurs and start-up businesses from four target industries: information technology, manufacturing, healthcare and sustainable food. For a startup business enterprise to be eligible, it must have been established after April 30, 2014, 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.

Past winners are grateful to have competed, since the MESC positively and productively extended their business efforts, and strengthened their entrepreneurial journey.

“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.”

“Although it was a lot of work to put together a thorough business plan, we are very thankful that we took the time to do so and participate in the Challenge,” said 2015 third-place finisher Tammy Rahm, co-owner 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 includes three rounds, beginning with a brief questionnaire and executive summary submittal that is open to all applications that meet the eligibility guidelines. Participants selected for the second round are invited to expand on their entrepreneurial concept by submitting a full business plan. The last round is the “final pitch” in front of a panel of business experts.

For more information on the 2017 MESC or to initiate the application process, visit The initial entry deadline is Tuesday, September 5. Semi-finalists will be announced Friday, Sept. 8, with finalists notified on Wednesday, Oct. 18.

The Challenge will announce its cash prize winners on Friday, Nov. 3 during the monthly Leadership Council SW IL 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

For More Information
Contact the Illinois Small Business
Development Center (SBDC)
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