VINTON, Va. – Nearly 50 local entrepreneurs submitted their business plans this week to be judged in the Gauntlet, as they become one step closer to making their business dreams come true. The Gauntlet is the state’s largest business competition program that has helped hundreds of local businesses start or expand over the past 7 years.
Now, a panel of local business professionals and economic leaders will begin reading over their plans, deciding which plans have earned a spot in the final phase of the competition. Finalists will have the opportunity to give their business pitch in-person in front of the judges.
Tens of thousands of dollars of cash and in-kind prizes are on the line to help fund their idea. Finalists will earn the highest awards. Every entrepreneur that completed the program will earn something to help them start their business.
More than 100 entrepreneurs began the 10-week program this year. Shannon Dominguez with the Advancement Foundation, the nonprofit behind the Gauntlet, said 49 entrepreneurs are competing. The majority of those were submitted from entrepreneurs in Roanoke City. There are 16 from Roanoke City, 10 from Roanoke County and multiple entrepreneurs from Botetourt, Bedford, Lexington and Allegheny Highlands.
Business ideas being pitched this year range from a variety of industries like retail, agriculture and restaurants, and are being submitted by a variety of participants — one that’s only 7-years-old, the youngest in Gauntlet history. Many businesses, like Woven Artisan Gallery, also feature community give-back themes and focus on corporate responsibility.
This is the first year the program has been offered in the Bedford area. Advancement Foundation President Annette Patterson says they have plans to continue to expand across the region, particularly in the New River Valley next year.
Winners will be announced in May. 10 News is a proud media sponsor of the Gauntlet.