It’s a new year and everybody’s looking forward to a fresh new start. You know the saying, “New Year, New me.”
The same could be said about creating new trends as the year 2023 begins.
Where better to begin a new trend than to look at our small businesses in our Eastern Kentucky region?
Our SOAR Innovation team gathered together to help create this year’s 2023 Startup Businesses to Watch.
Our Business and Innovation team has worked closely with these 5 businesses offering direct services, coaching, and mentorship.
These businesses displayed considerable growth and gave back to their communities in multiple ways.
As they move into 2023, our team will continue to support their progress and are excited to see where the year takes them.
With that being said, let us dig into our 5 Startup Businesses to Watch this 2023 year!
Focused Logistics in London
A locally-owned trucking company that will help support supply chain and packaging right in London, Ky.!
Owner, Craig Williams, first came in contact with our SOAR innovation team in October of 2020 when he filled out our Complete Guide to Entrepreneurship.
Together, our team and Craig created a logo, a brand guide, and a business plan for him to be able to start up his truck company goals.
In addition to helping Craig get started, we connected him to our business partners to help him with the next steps in making his business a success.
“When working with our clients, we seek out every possibility for them, and this often leads to us leaning on our strong relationships with other entrepreneurial support partners,” said Sabrina Mcwhorter, SOAR’s Innovation Manager.
Several of those partners include:
- Mountain Association helped Craig with financial support and needs.
- Kentucky Small Business Development Center (SBDC) helped Craig with his Business Financial Projections.
- Kentucky Procurement Technical Assistance Center (KYPTAC) helped teach Craig about SAM (System for Award Management) Education, an official US Government system that consolidates the capabilities of CCR/FedReg, ORCA, and EPLS.
“When we discovered what Craig was trying to achieve with his business, we knew he would immediately be a great fit for our partners at KYPTAC. Their team has worked closely with Craig and now he is on his way to obtaining Government contracts. This diversifies his revenue streams and also allows for new market opportunities,” said McWhorter.
Most recently, our team has worked to build Craig’s one-page information site and it will continue into the 2023 year on fine-tuning his site to reflect his services and partnerships.
It is not just a saying in Eastern Kentucky when we hear “It takes a village,” because, in our region, we all gather together to help support our neighbors achieve their life goals and dreams.
Helping Eastern Kentuckians start their business goals is only one of many offers SOAR can help with.
“I want to thank the SOAR innovation team for basically taking what was a dream, into pushing it towards a reality,” said Williams.
The General Store at Pine Mountain Crossing in Letcher County
Tiffany and Ernie Scott opened and expanded a business during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That was a risk.
And one worth taking.
It started with the couple wanting to preserve their town’s heritage and staple grocery store after it closed down. That led to the creation of The General Store in January 2021.
Offering an array of items and services, the General Store allows locals and tourists to be fully embraced by all things Appalachia.
This year, the innovation team has worked with both Tiffany and Ernie to help build their custom website and e-commerce that will allow them to continue to expand and scale their business.
In 2022, Tiffany and Ernie opened their second location, The General Store Xpress at the Whitesburg ARG Gift Shop, all while helping their community recover and rebuild from a devastating flood.
Their faith and grit to persevere Appalachian heritage earned them a $1000 Innovation Award at the 2022 SOAR Summit.
Entering the 2023 year, our innovation team will continue to support the couple to help create a strategic plan for their website, as well as ensure their google listings stay up-to-date and accurate with their multiple locations.
“We are very thankful for our partnership with SOAR and what they have been able to do for us as far as help us to build an online presence with a website,” said Tiffany.
Murray’s Autoworx in Carter County
After realizing the need for a quality repair shop in their town, two men, Shadow Skaggs and Marcus Murray decided to purchase a 4,000 sq. ft., 6-bay garage facility in September 2021.
Since their purchase, their business has increased to 11 employees when their original starting numbers were 3. In addition to employing more people on their staff, the duo managers have added a 7th repair bay.
In the 2022 calendar year alone, the business has surpassed $1 million in revenue!
Wanting to continue to make a difference in their community and noticing a grander need for their services, the business has purchased a property in Grayson’s newest commercial district to open up an automotive sales business.
Those building plans have been finalized and preparations are already underway with operations expected to begin in July of this year!
While they continue to expand and grow, business owners continue to look for ways they can better serve their clients.
Our innovation team will help create a custom website and e-commerce for the auto repair shop team this new year.
“Don’t make something harder than it needs to be. Use the best ideas around and make it your own,” said owners Shadow Skaggs and Marcus Murray, “Work to become more efficient. Use systems and develop processes early. Also, DO NOT neglect the power of hiring a great team.”
New Frontier in Rowan County
New Frontier is a global apparel brand based in central Appalachia in the foothills of Morehead, Kentucky.
With 90% of their business being trafficked online, brother duo Joshua and Jared Ravenscraft, still offer an in-person shopping experience at their store.
During a time of need, the Ravenscrafts reacted immediately when the devastating floods impacted Eastern Kentucky by pushing their “Eastern Kentucky Strong” items, which helped provide 100% of their proceeds to flood victims who were affected,
In addition, the brothers made numerous trips to Eastern Kentucky hauling supplies to drop centers and helping neighbors move out of their flooded homes.
It is no surprise that this local business is praised within our Appalachian mountain towns as they contribute and assist our communities while also running their business at the same time.
You can read more about their flooding help and fundraising efforts HERE.
Our Innovation team continues to support them through their growth, and expansion, and in 2023 work to support them as they launch never-before-done concepts in Appalachia.
“It is completely okay to start small and use the resources you have around you in your community to build a business, even if it is out of a garage or a kitchen table at your parents house,” said brother-duo owners Joshua & Jared Ravenscraft, “The most important step in life is taking the first step. After the first step, become consistent in your efforts, over a certain period of time you will be reaping what you are sowing.”
Safari Solutions in Casey County
A recent business administration graduate from Campbellsville University in the Spring of 2021, Dakota Hoskins has had a busy year with SOAR.
Having previously worked as a car wash operator, Dakota was always looking for ways to use technology to provide a better car washing customer experience.
After discovering him in early 2022, our innovation team has worked diligently to support Dakota through a multitude of growth options. Our team has connected Dakota to other clients for custom-created designs and parts.
Dakota has also been receiving coaching lessons to prepare him for the Startup Appalachia Pitch Competition where he took home 1st place.
In 2022, Dakota took on 3 pitch competitions across the state, while also representing Eastern Kentucky nationally during the Small Business Big Impact Virtual Pitch event with the Center of Rural Innovation, CORI.
Through this growth, he was able to create a new full-time job, while also expanding his services across the state.
In 2023, our Innovation team will work with Dakota to build out his digital presence to engage with a larger audience and provide more credibility as he expands his brand and offerings.
“If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough and with the help of SOAR you can truly accomplish any product or goal if you set your mind to it,” said Hoskins.
Are you ready to start your own business?
Take the first step by downloading our Complete Guide to Entrepreneurship.
After this free download, a member of our team will schedule a consultation.
All SOAR Innovation services are provided for free to those eligible.