Cox Business brought Get Started Omaha back for the fourth year during Omaha Startup Week earlier this month. The event featured six entrepreneurs pitching their businesses to a panel of experts for a shot at $7,500 in cash and a $2,500 Cox Media package.
This year’s pitch winner was Ali Clark from Snowshoe Candy Co., a seasonal company specializing in handmade candies. The inspiration for Clark’s company came from her grandfather’s caramel recipe and her youth spent in Wisconsin, where snowshoeing and outdoor winter activities are a part of life.
“It’s based on my grandpa’s recipe,” said Clark. “That’s kind of the backbone of my business.”
Snowshoe Candy Co. showcases all natural, local ingredients and homemade vanilla extract which creates a unique line of candy.
“It weaves together and creates this superior sweet,” said Clark. “[It’s] something worth savoring.”
Clark felt that everyone who presented at Get Started Omaha had strong businesses with large-scale potential but the connectivity that is created with a food-based business perhaps struck a personal chord with the judges.
“I feel really honored to have won,” said Clark. “The people that I was pitching against were really inspiring and had strong pitches as well,”
Organizers echoed Clark’s admiration of this year’s Get Started Omaha competitors.
“In the four years that Cox Business has sponsored Get Started, we thought the finalists were the strongest we had seen and we’re excited to see diversity in both the founders and the business sectors represented,” said Julie Minton. Sr. Marketing Manager for Cox Business. “It’s one of my favorite events of the year, bringing together energetic minds and making connections that really can change everything.”
Pitch competitions not only provide entrepreneurs and startups with opportunities to win funding, but they also offer the chance to for business owners to introduce their companies to a new audience and help to focus a business’s mission and goals. Clark said that honing in on the most important aspects of her business in a 2.5-minute pitch was a challenge but also beneficial.
“It was really difficult for me to rein in what I wanted to say. It was also really good practice in terms of saying the most important things,” said Clark. “It helps you uncover what those things are.”
Ken Kraft, Sr. VP of Marketing & Sales Operations, Cox Business, said that his company is proud of their role in helping small businesses around the country establish their place in startup ecosystems and address their needs to help reach goals.
“Startups are alive and well! In fact, Get Started Omaha is one of nine pitch competition events that Cox Business is sponsoring across the country this year,” said Kraft. “We understand that startup companies genuinely need reliable business solutions and services. That is why we are proud to be part of Omaha Startup Week and honored to support the startup ecosystem in the Omaha community.”
Clark plans on using the $7,500 cash prize to invest in equipment upgrades that will allow her to make candy batches ten times larger than are currently possible. Even with scaled production, she plans on keeping the company focused on seasonal operation from October through March.
“There’s a lot of restrictions to growth in terms of producing for the whole year,” said Clark. “Also the scarcity that’s created by producing [seasonally] adds to some of the fun of my business. People engage differently which I like.”
Scaling production will, in turn, provide Clark with more time to focus on new products, distribution methods and ways to use the $2,500 Cox Business media package.
“The media package is really exciting. I’ve had some ideas bubbling in the back of my head that I’ve been trying to figure out how to launch,” said Clark. “Having access to that resource of people who have skills in producing videos will allow me to create something that launches another exciting project.”
Christine McGuigan is the Associate Editor of Silicon Prairie News.
This content is sponsored by: