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Launch Gloucester ‘Pitch Night’ had impressive array of budding entrepreneurs

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Launch Gloucester ‘Pitch Night’ had impressive array of budding entrepreneurs

By: Steve Sadler, CEO, Allegiancy

May 14, 2015

The Launch Gloucester “Pitch Night” was a rousing success, if you ask me. Our local version of “Shark Tank” was friendly and supportive and ultimately, uplifting.

Starting a business is difficult — I have been there three or four times. But I saw people still willing to put in the work, take the leap of faith, and set out on their own – taking risks, creating opportunity for others in their community and a future for themselves.

Entrepreneurs on Main Streets – not the guys on Wall Street – are the answer to healing our nation’s economy and setting us all up for success well into the future.

I was reminded of this as I had the privilege of serving on a five-judge panel that heard 10 prospective Gloucester, Va., entrepreneurs pitch their business plans. They each had the hope of winning start-up capital and the support to build out and turn those ideas – those dreams – into reality.

I can’t tell you the results of the pitches now – stay tuned for the big announcement later this month.  But I can tell you more about this innovative program and the great men and women who are among our nation’s latest entrepreneurs.

What Is Launch Gloucester?

Ten potential Gloucester businesses are in the running to be one of three selected to share in $95,000 worth of goods, services, and start-up capital to launch a business on Gloucester’s historic Main Street.   (Gloucester is on the Chesapeake Bay, east of Richmond and just north of Williamsburg and Yorktown, Va.)

The Launch Gloucester program is part of Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Virginia Community Business Launch initiative, and the funds awarded to our community are overseen by the Gloucester Main Street Preservation Trust and Gloucester Main Street Association.

My impression of the entrepreneurs, their ideas, and the program itself? Excellent and really well done.

The people who put this together for Gloucester — Jenny Crittenden and Ashley Gilmartin of the Gloucester Main Street Preservation Trust and Main Street Association – did a bang-up job finding creative ways to create opportunity for small businesses and the community.

Meet the Entrepreneur Contestants

The entrepreneurs were solid, and as eclectic as their business ideas:

—Crystal Burton, of Sweet Tooth Parlor (an expansion of her business, a current bake shop and cupcakery);

—George Cramer, of The Village Blacksmith (a startup that would bring a vintage blacksmith to Main Street and allow the community to try their hands at forging iron);

—Rachel Cuba, of Gloucester Juice Bar (a startup);

—Karin Fary, of The Nines Pet Boutique (a startup focused on pet care and goods);

—Wanda Fary, of Pawsitive K9 Play Care & Training Center (a startup);

—Chris and Heather Morgan, Oak & Barrel Restaurant (a startup);

—Ginger Platsis & Jill Reece, of Essential Wellness and Bodywork (an expansion of an existing business that blends nutrition with massage and holistic wellness);

—Raphaella Teschner, of Beautiful Plus Boutique (a startup that offers plus size clothing to women);

—Lorraine Walsh, of Gloucester’s Good Life Kitchen (a startup that blends a CIA-trained chef that’s also an RN to create healthy, tasty food);

—Nina Watkins, of Twice as Nice Boutique, (a second location for this high-end clothing consignment shop).

Following a Dream, Making a Plan

The level of preparation by these would-be entrepreneurs was equally astonishing. They didn’t just pitch an idea, a dream. They pitched a plan they are ready to put into motion as soon as they win the grant money.

They were able to do all this because the program wasn’t just about the money. Its heart centered on a robust training course. These entrepreneurs already have received far more education and preparation in operating and marketing a business than many college graduates do. Launch Gloucester really put into place an MBA-level program.

Quite frankly, their presentations were as good as the ones you hear from guys that are out raising $20 million or $30 million. The quality and thought in preparation were top-flight work.

What Happens Next?

From this program will come three people who ‘win’ the grant money. But all the participants are now better prepared than most who start businesses. That will have long-term positive ramifications for the Gloucester community.

Why? Because these entrepreneurs dug in. They took a risk. They brought their passion to the table and put in the work to build solid plans.

Later this month, we will announce the three winners. You won’t be disappointed and will likely want to make a trek to Gloucester’s Main Street to see the changes that happen as a result of this program and these businesses.

About Steve Sadler

Sadler is the driving force behind Allegiancy, a Richmond-based commercial real estate asset manager. The firm is a highly-specialized, fee-based investment manager in secondary markets.

Allegiancy is poised to become a national leader in the new small business crowdfunding movement. Allegiancy plans to raise at least $30 million in capital this year through a public securities offering under the SEC’s new Regulation A (A+), which increases the maximum amount a private company can raise from $5 million to $50 million a year. For more information about Reg A, visit Allegiancy.us.

About Allegiancy

Allegiancy manages approximately $300 million in commercial real estate assets. The company’s portfolio of properties has delivered returns that outperformed their peers by 45 percent since 2006. With a leadership team that has more than 100 years of experience, the company grew by 62 percent last year, largely due to referrals from satisfied clients.

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