Hy-Vee awards $30,000 slice of $50,000 pie to family cobbler business
DEnisha Jones sweetened Hy-Vee’s OpportUNITY inclusive business summit and pitch competition this week with her ready-to-bake cobblers. His pitch (and peaches) won the grand prize of $30,000.
“Every time Thanksgiving comes around, I always crave my grandmother’s cobbler. During the pandemic, I couldn’t find a cobbler as good as my grandmother’s, so I made a cobblers manufacturing trial,” said Jones, the founder of Sweet Peach Cobblers – a family business in Blue Springs, Missouri, that offers homemade frozen cobblers. “Winning shows that hard work really pays off, and I’m ready to keep going.”
More than 250 people gathered at Arrowhead Stadium on Tuesday to Hy-Vee’s OpportUNITY Inclusive Business Summit and Pitch Competition. The event was a free professional development conference focused on providing resources to minority and women-owned businesses in greater Kansas City and surrounding states.
“This event has been amazing because not only have we been able to pitch and introduce to potential partners, but learning from the panelists and the various vendors here has been invaluable,” Jones said, adding that she plans to sign up for a supplier diversity event. class at Metropolitan Community College after speaking with representatives at Tuesday’s event.
Click on here to learn more about supplier diversity efforts at Metropolitan Community College.
Hy-Vee awarded a total of $50,000 to the 15 pitch finalists who were selected from over 75 applicants. Jones plans to use her grand prize to grow the Sweet Peaches Cobblers team and expand her retail and restaurant partnerships. Their products are currently sold in 27 stores in the region, she noted.
“We are looking to hire a co-packer,” Jones said. “A co-packer will allow Sweet Peaches Cobblers to grow tremendously. Not only will this allow us to keep our staff already employed, but we will also be able to hire other employees.
The pitch competition had three categories: technology and innovation; food and drink; and health, wellness and beauty. In addition to a grand prize winner, a founder from each category was selected to win $5,000.
Technology and innovation
Aiming to be the “Apple of the pet technology industry”, Reciprocal won the $5,000 prize in Hy-Vee’s innovation and technology category. Jonaie Johnson, Founder and CEO, recently launched a Kickstarter for Interplay’s first product, the PlayTach – a dog crate accessory that allows a pet parent to virtually dispense food and water; see and talk to your dog; and open and close the checkout via a smartphone app.
“Any funding received will go to manufacturing to cover our tooling costs,” Johnson said. “Since we are looking to do injection molding, legal fees to pursue the pursuit of our utility patent, as well as software development to continue to develop it and get the production-ready version of the interaction applications, this includes mobile and iOS App.”
Using Kickstarter, the Interplay team is working to raise $10,000 in 35 days. By Wednesday, Interplay had raised over $6,000 with 13 days remaining.
Interplay is one of Startland News’ startups to watch in 2022. Click here to know more.
Food and drink
Ophélie’s Blue Vine Farm, an 18th and Vine District urban farm that strives to make fresh herbs accessible to everyone in the KC metro area, won the $5,000 prize in the food and beverage category. Founder Mike Rollen said they plan to use the money for machinery to help with packaging.
“We win by buying more stores and doing less volume, but that only makes sense with automation,” he added.
Beauty, health and well-being
Salon Savvy K.C. — a chain of hair salons specializing in curly, curly hair and creating lasting career opportunities for women of color — received $5,000 in the health, wellness and beauty category.
The salon, which hires, trains and develops stylists, currently has three locations in the Kansas City area. It offers customers a membership program that allows them to pay a monthly fee to receive unlimited salon services, as well as discounts on its line of all-natural hair products, said Lenora Leathers, who co-founded Savvy Salon with her husband, Rickey.
“We will increase our product sales,” Leathers said. “We will offer our products online and in local stores. We will also increase our revenue by improving and expanding our membership offering, seeking to serve an additional 200 members. We will create more jobs – five to seven new hairstylists and customer service team members.
Hy-Vee awarded a surprise $1,000 to the following five pitchers:
Cafe Ca Phe, Jackie Nguyen, Kansas City, Missouri — Café Cà Phê is KC’s first Vietnamese cafe with a new physical location in Columbus Park. While serving traditional Vietnamese-style coffee, its leaders hope to amplify the Asian and Asian American narrative.
Share the comfortCrystal Webster, Olathe, Kansas — Sharing Solace helps those who are grieving with technological gifts that can be passed on as a sign of solidarity and support.
Further education, Cassandra Bruington, Kansas City, Missouri — Supplemental Education is an online tutoring program that promotes academic, social, and emotional growth. Its WebApp offers one-on-one virtual tutoring for children from K-12.
The Good Dog brand, Alyson Fisher; Country Club, Missouri – The Good Dog Bone, its flagship product, is an innovation on standard marrow bones for dogs. The Good Dog brand draws blood from the bone and dehydrates the skin while leaving the marrow intact with no mess.
Tre’s SqueezeTre Glasper, Manhattan, Kansas — Tre’s Squeeze is an all-natural lemonade brand created by a 9-year-old entrepreneur using quality ingredients and freshly squeezed lemons.
The other six finalists included:
Creation of plugsRashawnda Wright, Overland Park, Kansas – Grad Cap Remix is a three-piece graduation cap insert that allows the traditional graduation cap to fit students with curly, textured hair.
Js Artistic Makeup, Jessica Andrews, Junction City, Kansas – Js MakeUp Artistry offers training with their makeup products. Customers can scan the QR codes on the products to get step-by-step tutorials.
Natural High Wellness Center and SpaAngel Canady, Leawood, Kansas – Natural High Wellness Center & Spa offers services such as sauna and massage therapy, detoxifying body wraps, facials, foot baths and colon hydrotherapy to help clients naturally heal and detoxify their bodies.
SEG Media Collective, Sheila Ellis-Glasper, Manhattan, Kansas — SEG Media Collective is a women- and minority-owned creative marketing agency focused on social media engagement and delivering results for clients. He uses data and cultural insights to differentiate his agency from competitors.
Smart cookie bakeryShari Weyrauch, Overland Park, Kansas – Smart Cookies is a boutique bakery specializing in from-scratch cookies and candies that are high-end, old-fashioned treats sprinkled with their signature smart attitude.
Yes! Athletics, Deb North; Topeka, Kansas — Yes! Athletics was the first to market a shoe specifically designed for female wrestlers. Their shoes are made in women’s sizes, and the company strives to provide styles and colors that appeal to women.
This story is possible thanks to the support of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundationa private, non-partisan foundation that works with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create unusual solutions and empower people to shape their future and succeed.
For more information, visit www.kauffman.org and log on to www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn