Around 150 people attended the first Rock County Jumpstart business pitch event held in Beloit in 2022. Pictured is Wisconsin Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes as he addressed the crowd prior to the pitch event that highlighted seven minority-owned businesses.
At the end of the event, three business owners will be chosen to receive a grant award of up to $3,500.
“The Jumpstart Accelerator is funded by the Department of Administration (DOA) grant that Rock County Jumpstart received in March 2022,” said Genia Stevens, Executive Director of Rock County Jumpstart. “The DOA grant is federal funding.”
Six business owners will be presenting their business pitches to a set of judges on Thursday, according to Stevens. All six of the owners participated in the 10-week Jumpstart Accelerator program.
The six participants are:
Valenica Riley: Virtual Reality Arcade
Lucas Scott: Mobile Barbershop
Robert Clark: PressREC Media (videography)
Mikal Cooks: Health and wellness nonprofit focusing on racial disparities affecting Black women
Joseph Purnell: Can Do Crew (home remodeling business that works with veterans and formerly incarcerated individuals)
“The main goal of the Jumpstart Accelerator Pitch will be to describe what each business owner has learned in the accelerator and where they hope to take their business next,” Stevens explained. “Business owners are all tasked with telling those in the room what support they need to succeed. Tasha Bell, Rock County Equity Manager, will provide opening remarks and Judge Ashley Morse will deliver the keynote address.”
The first place winner will receive $3,500 while second place will receive $2,500 and third place will receive $1,500.
“Winners are chosen based on a scoring matrix that’s provided to the judges,” Stevens said. “The winners from the first cohort received $2,500, $1,500, and $1,000 because our funding sources were different.”
The judges for the event are:
Mark Spreitzer, Wisconsin State Senator
Wanda Sloan — Beloit community activist
Andre Sayles, Beloit Police Chief
Randolph Terronez — Assistant to Rock County Administrator
Angela Pakes — President & CEO, Forward Janesville
Tiffany Odeh — Vice President, Senior Community Accountability Officer, Associated Bank
“I like having a very diverse group of community leaders serving as judges for the pitch event,” Stevens said. “I try not to choose all business people. I want a diversity of thought.”
In October of 2022, Rock County Jumpstart invited the public to an open house at the organization’s new location at 2080 Sutler Ave. in Beloit.
“Our new office has allowed us to run the Jumpstart Accelerator 10-week class from our own classroom located here at our office,” Stevens said. “Last year we ran the accelerator from the Beloit Public Library.”