Do you have Appalachia Kentucky’s next big idea?
We want to hear it… and we want to fund it.
Thanks to the generosity of Community Trust Bancorp, we will award nearly $20,000 in cash prizes with first-place taking home $10,000!
Finalists also get to take home $500.
The business must be a startup based in one of the 54 ARC KY Counties.
- A Startup is defined as a concept or existing business financed by its founders that is attempting to attract outside investment.
- An existing business cannot be more than 5 years old.
- Must have a product or service that has an e-commerce or exporting focus.
The competition is planned for April 11, 2024 and the location is yet to be determined (TBD).
But don’t let that date fool you, the deadline to APPLY is coming up soon!
The deadline to apply is December 31, 2023. We know that applying for a pitch competition can be a little intimidating. It doesn’t have to be and we are here to help.
You can apply HERE.
Everyone’s a Winner
While there are three cash winners, every applicant to the Startup Appalachia Pitch Competition will receive coaching from SOAR’s Business and Innovation team.
And it doesn’t end there.
Our team members, appropriately called Champions, begin to identify challenges. Just as important, we identify and seize opportunities.
- Coaching and Mentoring
- Direct Services such as:
- Business Ideation
- Financial Forecasting
- Google Verification
- Website Fundamentals
- Digital Media and Marketing
- Referrals to Technical Assistance Providers and their subject-matter experts
We’re with you from the time you land and launch — and beyond!
And if you are named a finalist, you’ll automatically take home $500.
Last year, TJ Rayhill, creator and owner of Bluegrass Crickets took home a $10,000 grand prize.
TJ is passionate about going against the crowd. Opening a bookstore at 19-year-old and launching a food truck, a gift shop, and a restaurant has led down a path to launching Bluegrass Crickets, Kentucky’s First Commercial Cricket Farm.
Bluegrass Crickets raises organic crickets for the bait and feed industry and looks soon to produce crickets for human consumption.
You can watch the entire 2023 Startup Appalachia Pitch Competition HERE.
In 2022, Dakota Hoskins, creator and owner of Safari Solutions took home a $10,000 grand prize. As a car wash technology startup, Hoskins developed a unique and affordable barcode system for operators to implement to increase profits and marketing reach. Since the pitch, Dakota has participated in the AWESOME Inc 5 Across Pitch Competition, and represented Eastern Kentucky at the Small Towns, Big Ideas Virtual Pitch Competition presented by CORI.
You can watch the entire 2022 Startup Appalachia Pitch Competition HERE.
Our Startup Appalachia Pitch Competition winner for 2021 was Walleye Solutions. This Lincoln County startup provides aesthetically pleasing cable pass through wall ports that allow cords, cables, and plugs to pass freely through a wall. Owner, Billy Brown, was able to invest his winnings into equipment needed for in-house manufacturing of his product, which helped lower his overall product cost. Their standard products can be found on their website, Walmart, and Amazon.
You can watch the entire 2021 Startup Appalachia Pitch Competition HERE.
Tipper Valley Farms
Our 2020 winner was Tipper Valley Farms. The Rowan County Appalachian Proud farm produces all-natural products with their free-range goat’s milk. They combine this with selected oils and formulations with sensitive skin in mind and contain no unnecessary, harmful, or harsh chemicals, additives, preservatives, or dyes. Check out their online store HERE.
In 2019, Tree of the Field claimed first place in our first-ever Startup Appalachia Pitch Competition. The Madison County-based agritech business continues to grow, recently launching a bourbon-scented Skeeterlog. You don’t have to look far to find their Skeeterlog and handmade chimineas. If you do, no worries. They have an online store.
Connecting to Capital
SOAR’s team works with startups and existing businesses through the support of KY Innovation. Our approach is personal and direct, providing clients with resources to launch or scale an existing business.
This is done through a variety of direct services.
- Business Planning
- Website Development
- E-Commerce Implementation
- Digital Media Services
- Google Services
- Systems for Success
While finalists pitch for a cash prize, we work to create additional funding opportunities for each business.
For more information
Got questions? Contact Sabrina McWhorter, Director of Business and Innovation, at email@example.com.