8th Annual GAUNTLET Graduation and Awards Ceremony Held

Over $400,000 in cash, grants, & in-kind prizes awarded to local entrepreneurs

On Wednesday, May 25th, The GAUNTLET Business Program & Competition™ held the 8th Annual GAUNTLET Graduation & Awards Ceremony.  The GAUNTLET class of 2022 attracted a record 153 entrepreneurs from communities across the Roanoke Valley, Shenandoah Valley, and Southside.  After 10 weeks of classes, 66 businesses moved on to compete for their piece of over $400,000 in cash, grants, and in-kind prizes/services.

The GAUNTLET Business Program and Competition™ is underwritten by the Advancement Foundation, a nonprofit founded in 2007, which serves as a catalyst to attract our region’s assets with the commitment of partner agencies, economic developers, sponsors, donors, grantors, GAUNTLET alumni, mentors, and regional innovators.

Since the GAUNTLET classes began in February, confident graduates have purchased $760,000 in commercial real estate. Over the next 24 months, they will spend $502,000 in leasing commercial property; create 263 new full time jobs and create profit revenues of $3,382,324.

At the end of the day, our communities are far better for having fostered diverse business development. Whether scalable high growth companies or Main Street enterprises, the vibrant quality of life, a robust and sustainable economy are all outcomes of this investment in business development.

GAUNTLET competitors receive awards based on a combination of their competition scores as well as their specific business needs. Cash and in-kind prizes are provided by numerous local sponsors, like Lead Sponsor State Farm, and regional partners who are committed to igniting the futures of local entrepreneurs.

For the first time ever, The GAUNTLET has two first-place winners – Natalie Ashton owner of Electric Iris 3D of Roanoke City and Natalie Hodge owner of Rudy’s Girl Media in Uptown Martinsville.

Electric Iris 3D is shaking up the poultry incubator industry with their innovative poultry incubator accessories. The invention will help farmers raise new classes of birds from quail to geese; and will help farmers raise more birds at one time by increasing hatch rates. This company will continue to scale into sales across the nation.

Rudy’s Girl Media is a multi-media content developer company based in Uptown Martinsville Virginia. Natalie has a master’s degree from Cornell University, and has worked in the entertainment industry in New York and Los Angeles. Natalie has and will produce short films and a web based reality series about rural entrepreneurship called Hometown Hustle.

Visit https://www.facebook.com/TAFGauntlet to watch the “Facebook Live” of the 2022 Ceremony and pre-ceremony Business Showcase.

For more information about The GAUNTLET: please visit www.TheAdvancementFoundation.org.

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