Ten Arkansas entrepreneurs secured seed funding during last week’s 2022 Pitch ‘N Pint competition, held by The Venture Center and the Little Rock Regional Chamber.
Participants Marissa Cahill, Kenitra Jones and Kathleen Lawson secured the top three awards after delivering pitches in front of a panel of judges and a local audience at Ron Robinson Theater in Little Rock.
Community contestants included Verkeytia Long, Hudson Lawson and James Humphrey who also won prizes determined by audience vote.
The biannual event featured members of the fall 2022 Spark! cohort, providing each participant the opportunity to pitch their business to the panel of local judges. The Spark! cohort represents seven Arkansas-based small businesses that recently completed a 10-week accelerator that helps participating founders scale their company through a sales, marketing, and business finance curriculum and connections with mentors. The seven founders include:
● Mariah Brown, LPC – The Vision Project
● Marisa Cahill – Cahill Exterior Design
● Bo Dillon – Builder Bid
● Cheryl Humphrey – Candy Butta
● Kenitra Jones – Kenitra’s Travel
● Kathleen Lawson – Sprinkles and Spice
● Will Tidwell – SpeakUPZee, L.L.C.
“In its seventh year, Pitch ‘N Pint continues to draw excitement and fuel the entrepreneurial spirit of our local business leaders,” said Pamela Reed, managing director of community programs for The Venture Center. “We’re grateful to the Little Rock Regional Chamber and their partnership for faithfully supporting the growth and success of small businesses, and we’re excited to see how the awarded seed funding will help these leaders tackle their next phase of growth.”
Prizes ranged from $3,000 to $1000 seed capital for the top three Spark! winners, and The Venture Center and its sponsors surprised the remaining Spark! contestants with $500 each. Community contestants took home prizes totaling $1,000. Overall, Arkansas small businesses secured $9,000 during the event.
Winning contestants included:
Spark! Accelerator Category:
First Place – $3,000 Winner: Marissa Cahill, Cahill Exterior Design
Second Place – $2,000 Winner: Kenitra Jones, Kenitra’s Travel
Third Place – $1,000 Winner: Kathleen Lawson, Sprinkles and Spice
Community Entrepreneurs Category:
First Place – $500 Winner: Verkeytia Long, Xtreme Clean Janitorial and Cleaning Services
Second Place – $300 Winner: Hudson Lawson, Book Project
Third Place – $200 Winner: James Humphrey, James Humphrey Jr. Scholarship Fund
“It’s been inspiring to watch this cohort’s growth over the last 10 weeks, and their confidence at Pitch ‘N Pint is why we continue to partner with The Venture Center to provide this event and the Spark! Small Business Accelerator program,” said Jay Chesshir, president and CEO of the Little Rock Regional Chamber. “Entrepreneurial growth is certainly a replicable process and continuing to give early-stage entrepreneurs exposure to resources like seed funding and networking helps bolster their vision and benefits Little Rock’s economic future.”