Learning Spanish may be one of the best things Janesville Police Officer Chad Sullivan has ever done.
Sullivan and entrepreneur John Fugate won the grand prize and $18,240 as part of the Rock County 5.0's Accelerate Your Business Plan contest for Street Cop Spanish Seminars, a division of Spanish in Your Job, LLC.
The business plan contest winners were announced Thursday at the 2011 Rock Regional Business Expo luncheon held at the Eclipse Center in Beloit. Other winners were Eric Larsen of Expresso Ticketing, and Christina Slaback, Leah Rebout and Michelle Rebout of Sweet Alternatives Gluten-Free Bakery.
The expo attracted 102 vendors and more than 1,000 guests, according to Jennie Krajeck, Forward Janesville's director of events and small business services.
Presented by Forward Janesville with help from area chambers of commerce, the expo was held for the first time in Beloit. It featured the area's largest trade show and the biggest Business After Five networking event of the year. The keynote speaker for the luncheon was filmmaker Brad Lichtenstein, who is making a film on the closing of GM in Janesville.
Sullivan, who grew up in Beloit, said he teaches key Spanish words and phrases to law enforcement personnel and has future plans to offer his training and products to healthcare, dental, fire, corrections and business professionals around the country. No matter where one stands on immigration, he said about one out of six people are Latino and that customers are speaking Spanish.
"Communication is the key to business success," he said.
Sullivan, an officer for 15 years, said he decided to launch his business when he got three calls from other officers requesting help issuing citations within a matter of minutes. He wanted to design training in 20 key words, phrases and commands that would be easier to learn. He even created pocket sized cards with phrases for officers and a card explaining what a citation means for Latinos who don't speak English.
Fugate who was printing Sullivan's promotional products at his business Proforma Printworks saw great potential in the business. He joined with Sullivan to help him expand marketing efforts. After the two joined forces, they entered the business plan contest last year and won $3,000.
The win motivated Sullivan to take his business to the next level. Fugate said the mentoring sessions and constructive criticism really helped to generate new ideas for the business. For more information on the business people can visit www.streetcopspanish.com.
Sullivan said he was pleased that prize money and recognition was given to two other businesses in the contest. He said he wouldn't be surprised if the businesses go on to compete a second year and win the grand prize.
Christina Slaback, who currently works at the Milton Area Chamber of Commerce, said she got the idea for a gluten-free bakery when family members had gluten allergies. She has plans to open a bakery with Leah and Michelle Rebout. Sweet Alternatives Gluten Free Bakery also will offer vegan, egg-free and casein-free options for diners. The bakery will offer freshly baked breads, pastries and sweets as well as frozen dough. For more information visit www.sweetalternativesgfb.com.
Expresso Ticketing, a product of IT Advantage Corporation, was awarded a runner-up prize valued at $6,500. Targeted at venues that lack a centralized box office or the budget to support an enhanced software application, Expresso Ticketing provides an affordable, comprehensive, integrated and secure online ticketing sales platform. For additional information, visit www.expressoticketing.com.
Rock County 5.0 is a five-year public/private economic development initiative designed to reposition and revitalize Rock County's economy. The initiative's efforts are focused on the following five economic development strategies: Business Retention and Expansion, Business and Investment Attraction, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Real Estate Positioning and Workforce Profiling.