6 Businesses Boosted by Goshen’s Pitch Night
In Goshen, we know a good business idea when we hear it. Then we fund it.
That’s where Goshen’s annual Pitch Night comes in. A Goshen Chamber of Commerce program, Pitch Night gives local entrepreneurs the opportunity to “pitch” proposals to a panel of local experts in order to launch a new business or aid an existing business. The best ideas win funding to make their idea reality.
Entrepreneurs have five minutes to present their idea, followed by a five-minute question-and-answer session. At the 2017 event, $10,000 was awarded. Judges were Brian Krider of Ben’s Pretzels, Levi King of Jo Jo’s Pretzels, and Melissa Kinsey, Goshen College director of entrepreneurship.
Want to hear from some winning pitchers? Read on.
Jasmine Wall of The Imagination Spot was 2017’s big winner with a $5,000 award. Wall’s business is designing and creating whimsical, quirky greeting cards, stationery, and gifts.
“Creating products that bring smiles to faces and joy to hearts is my passion,” she said. All Wall’s products are designed at her home studio in Goshen and her greeting cards are locally printed.
Wall has used part of her Pitch Night funds to register for the National Stationery Show in New York for May 2018.
“This wholesale stationery show will put my products in front of many big and small retailers from all over the U.S. and give me a chance to expand my wholesale business,” she said. Wall plans to use the remaining funds to buy a foil printer, which will help grow her business in the high-end personalized market with foil printed cards, invitations, and other products.
Local Fresheners is an e-commerce business selling custom air fresheners that feature images of iconic places and symbols in Goshen.
Local Fresheners is an e-commerce business selling custom air fresheners that feature images of iconic places and symbols in Goshen. Owner Timon Nimtz plans to use his Pitch Night funds to develop his website, market product online, and purchase the materials needed to manufacture the air fresheners.
Nimtz says Goshen is an amazing place for entrepreneurs.
“The Goshen Chamber of Commerce has played an influential role in helping me start my business,” he said. “With advice and guidance, the Chamber has helped tremendously. The resources online are essential. They directed me step-by-step with creating a business plan and registering my business. All the little details I did not know, the Chamber had excellent resources on. Being a start-up business, it has been great to have these resources.”
Julie Bergdall started Red Door Design in 2008. She’s filled a niche market in Goshen and the surrounding area by offering full interior redesigns, in addition to helping clients on a smaller scale: choosing paint colors, finalizing a carpet selection, etc.
Bergdall plans to use the Pitch Night money to be part of the Houzz professional community.
“This will be the first paid marketing I’m investing in since beginning this business, and it comes at a time when I am expanding from part time to full time,” she said. “The fees allow for placement of my business on the website so that when local people are on Houzz they’ll be more likely to see my business. From there they can see my projects, read about my business, contact me through Houzz, or be redirected to my website.”
Bergdall said the Chamber has supported her business from the beginning, offering free small business training through the Small Business Development Center.
“This Pitch Night event was another opportunity that the Chamber took to show support of Goshen businesses, and even if I hadn’t been awarded any money I would have walked away feeling the support from the Chamber for my business,” she said. “After applying, I was offered time to meet with a business advisor before the pitch, and she was invaluable in coaching me through the event itself and offering a sounding board as I prepared. The Goshen Chamber made this possible – and it cost me nothing. The judges were encouraging to all the applicants and Chamber staff were friendly and encouraging as well.”
The Refinery Coffee Company was another 2017 Pitch Night winner. Refinery is a wholesale and retail coffee business, with all coffee roasted on site.
Owner Regina Troyer put her $2,000 Pitch Night toward a weigh-and-fill coffee-bagging machine. The machine holds 100 pounds of either whole-bean or ground coffee. It then weighs the coffee and puts it in bags of various sizes.
“It definitely has helped with Christmas orders,” Troyer said.
Troyer read about Pitch Night in a newspaper article about a month before the event and decided to give it a shot.
“It was a really great experience,” she said.
JC Cheesecakes, owned by Chelsea Ramer, is a cheesecake bakery specializing in one-of-a-kind cheesecakes with more than 50 different flavors.
So far, Ramer has used some of the Pitch Night funds to buy baking equipment. She’s saving the additional funds for the small processing facility she needs to make her own cream cheese.
Ramer said the Goshen community has been very supportive of her endeavor.
“Goshen Chamber has been supportive by stopping by and wishing me luck on my new business, as well as purchasing cheesecakes,” Ramer said. “The Small Business Development Center that works in conjunction with the Chamber has been very helpful, also. They have given advice that has been beyond helpful, in my success at beginning a start-up. The SBDC is available whenever I have questions. If they do not know the answer, they will find someone who does.”
Soapy Gnome offers handcrafted soap and body care products free of GMOs and palm oils.
In addition to JC Cheesecakes, the 2016 Pitch Night winners included Soapy Gnome. Soapy Gnome offers handcrafted soap and body care products free of GMOs and palm oils. According to the website, Soapy Gnome is “constantly crafting products that make you say, “Ahhh,” in the middle of your busy life. Our customers are our favorite people and it’s our job to help you find peace and comfort for a few moments each day.”
Owner Jenny Frech put her $1,000 Pitch Night money toward the process of obtaining a trademark.
Editors • Scott Weisser, Liz Shenk
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