Shaping Our Appalachian Region, Inc. (SOAR) is excited to announce the winners of our third-annual Startup Appalachia Pitch Competition, presented by Community Trust Bancorp, Inc. The competition was in conjunction with the 2021 SOAR Summit, presented by Appalachian Wireless and the Appalachian Regional Commission, which occurred at the Corbin Arena on October 13-14.
The Pitch Competition, which was a collaborative effort with the Cabinet for Economic Development’s KY Innovation Office, allowed for Appalachian startups to present their unique business ideas to compete for external funding to assist in growth.
The first place winner received a grand prize of $7,000, while second place received $4,000 and third place received $1,500.
First Place Winner
Billy Brown from Stanford, Ky. was awarded the first place prize with his business Wall Eye Solutions. Billy has worked to create dressed ports through any barrier such as walls, floors, and ceilings that allows wires, tubes, and cables to be run in places they were unable to be before. His product will allow homeowners to access outlets on the other side of walls or in the basement below with ease. Billy is a senior mechanical engineer for Meggitt Airframe Systems and has an undergraduate degree in business management, along with more than 25 years of experience in manufacturing.
Reflecting on the Pitch Competition, Billy shares some thoughts about his accomplishment, “The Startup Appalachia Pitch Competition was a huge opportunity to get our product in front of a larger audience and to network with like minded individuals with the same goals. I am very grateful for the opportunity and for all those involved that helped guide us through the process”.
Second Place Winner
Dr. Ryan Montgomery of Salyersville, Ky. came in second place with his pitch Spinning Wheel Innovations. As a physical therapist, Ryan has used his many years of experience to perfect his market tested shoe insert for treatment of plantar fasciitis, a common type of pain experienced in the heels of one’s feet. Seeing a need of over 1 million patients in the U.S. alone, he worked to create a cheaper solution that both resolves symptoms while also treating the underlying cause of plantar fasciitis.
Ryan is a graduate of Morehead State University and the University of Kentucky, and he currently practices as a physical therapist at the VA Medical Center in Lexington, KY. He was awarded $4,000 to build upon his work, continuing his journey towards making plantar fasciitis treatment more affordable for his patients and more.
Third Place Winner
In third place was Raenae Moore from Corbin, KY, who pitched her idea CTTS, or Community Treatment and Tracking Solutions. Raenae has developed the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Product, an app that is used for treatment and monitoring of those struggling with substance abuse. Her app will help those that suffer from substance use disorder unlearn harmful behaviors, aiming to provide assistance at the touch of a button.
Raenae has more than 30 years of experience in re-entry, substance abuse treatment, and corrections. In these years, she has worked towards instituting policies and programs to help justice-involved individuals overcome these challenges and ultimately succeed. To do this, Raenae has served as both a federal probation and parole officer, as well as the director of programming for a local county jail where she introduced the county’s first substance abuse program. She is a certified Kentucky DUI Administrator and Alcohol Assessor and offers classes to promote growth and recovery in her local community. Her prize of $1,500 will help her further this incredible work in more communities aiming to assist those struggling with substance abuse.
Supporting Local Entrepreneurs
Sabrina McWhorter, Manager of SOAR Business and Innovation, believes that by participating in the competition, local startups have the opportunity to grow their idea or business. “The Startup Appalachia Pitch Competition offers a platform to startups, giving them exposure and seed capital that is vital when they are just getting started,” says McWhorter. “Often time, this capital makes the difference between expanding or maintaining their business.”
SOAR’s Business and Innovation team is a dedicated, free resource for entrepreneurs across Eastern Kentucky.
They can walk with you through each step of improving your business, help you execute, and make recommendations based on their past experience as business owners.
Earlier this year, SOAR released its Complete Guide for Entrepreneurship in Eastern Kentucky. This easy-to-read guide provides checklists and other resources to meet a scalable business or entrepreneur where they are at — from idea to launch.
Need a champion for your business or idea? Find the rep for your county to get started today!