The end of October was an exciting time for the small business community in this area. A business contest called EXPAND! announced its first winner of $35,000 worth of marketing, advertising and consultation prizes. EXPAND was the brain child of Lynda McNutt Foster and was brought to fruition by her company Synergize My Business (synergizemybusiness.com) and the Small Business Development Center rrsbdc.org. The award ultimately went to a company called Skill-Capped, Inc., (skill-capped.com) a business designed by gamers for the gaming community. They have a solid product with a clear vision. Sales for 2011 are on target to hit $500,000.
Their win is only a small part of the story. Attendees at Super Synergy (www.supersynergy.org), an annual forum for entrepreneurs that’s been sold out for 3 years in a row, were treated to presentations by the five semi-finalists in the competition. In addition, more than 175 business owners learned from more than 41 facilitators, speakers, and performers.
The diversity of ideas, skill and ingenuity was a striking representation of the best that our area has to offer. There is no denying that despite a difficult economy, hope is alive and well among those with an entrepreneurial drive. All of the finalists had a company that would improve the local economy while expanding their national reach.
The entrepreneurs included Doctors Lennox McNeary and Cheri Wiggins presenting their company Milkin’ Cookies (milkin’cookies.com). They provide a natural, healthy lactation cookie for nursing mothers. Their healthy snack may soon be carried by Whole Foods.
BlinkMatchApp (blinkmatchapp.com) is a resource for matching graduating students with employers. They recognize that the existing job application system is antiquated and are poised to take recruiting efforts by storm. One of their many accomplishments includes a licensing agreement with Virginia Tech. This company is spearheaded by the husband and wife team of Allan and Pam Tsang.
Engagn (engagn.com) presents easy to use applications for restaurants to receive immediate feedback by smart phone. Their business can provide solutions to other industries as well. They are capitalizing on the current trend of consumers scanning QR codes to receive information. The trio of entrepreneurs includes a graduate, current student, and a professor, all from Virginia Tech.
Nature’s Nectars (drinkfrizzante.com) started out as an all natural drink manufacturer. President Sharisse Brookins is as bubbly and refreshing as her nectars. They may soon be revolutionizing the industry with their patented preservative. Look for them to bring their manufacturing facility to the Roanoke Valley as they expand. There is potential for their patent to provide real solutions to third world countries and their water supply.
When vision meets action great things happen in the Roanoke Valley. The combination of amenities that conspire to form the evolution of our hometown continue to attract the brightest and the best. Someday soon someone you know may be working for one of these entrepreneurs.