In an evening charged with entrepreneurial electricity, five finalists took the stage at the Carroll Arts Center to tell four judges and a live audience why their new business idea deserved the grand prize valued at over $19,000, including $7,500 cash.
It was the 2017 Carroll Biz Challenge.
The five finalists were chosen from 22 hopeful applicants who entered this year's Biz Challenge. An Advisory Board spent hours picking only five to pitch at the Live Finale. "Several fantastic ideas had to get cut. It was grueling." said Steve Lowe of 127 Creative, a founding sponsor and producer or the Carroll Biz Challenge.
After all five pitched, the audience voted electronically for the $1,000 People's Choice Award and the judges went back stage to deliberate and select the grand prize winner.
Following an intermission, the judges took the stage once again. Helen Taylor of the French Twist and winner of the very first People's Choice Award, presented the 2017 Peoples Choice Award to Up Above Media, an innovative areal photography and surveying business.
Finally Mike McMullin, president of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce, joined Kristin Ellis from Enter, Exit, Escape, last year's Biz Challenge Winner, to present the grand prize. After thoughtful and suspenseful comments from the judges, McMullin and Ellis revealed an over-sized check for $7,500 made out to bookSwap, a new app that enables college students to buy and sell books and tutoring services. Brandon Cortese, Hunter Metcalfe and Dejuan Price proudly accepted the check along with other valuable prizes valued at over $11,500
The Carroll County Chamber of Commerce congratulates all the applicants, finalists and winners and sincerely appreciates all the sponsors and attendees of the 2017 Carroll Bit Challenge!
Twenty-six local entrepreneurs entered. Five Finalists were chosen. And it was a very close contest.
On August 11, 2016, for the first time in Biz Challenge history, the judges were tied in who they thought should win the $5,000 Grand Prize. So the decision went to an unprecedented audience showdown.
The ballots were counted and Kristen Ellis, founder of Enter Exit Escape, proudly accepted the $5,000 check. Enter Exit Escape is an immersive, engaging, entertainment experience that capitalizes on the growing trend of escape rooms.
The $500 People's Choice Award was given to Once Upon A Crumb, and Timobe Paige of Cultivated walked away with the $2,000 Downtown Award.
The 2015 Carroll Biz Challenged was hosted on Thursday, November 19 at the Carroll Arts Center in Westminster, MD and televised life on cable.
Twenty-five local entrepreneurs applied, and five finalists were chosen by the Advisory Board. The finalists were chosen based on a set of criteria that included originality, viability, community impact, etc. At the Live Finale, each contestant was given five minutes to pitch their idea, followed by an eight-minute grilling by the panel of four judges.
For the first time in Biz Challenge History, both the $500 People's Choice Award and the $5,000 Grand Prize were awarded to the same start-up. Ryan Herbstsomer from Autumn Summer Woodcraft, LLC convinced both the audience and the judges that his handmade wood and leather gifts for men was the most worthy business idea.
"The chamber is so proud to host this great event that spotlights local entrepreneurs," said Mike McMullin, President of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce. "This was the best biz challenge ever. Lots of energy, great pitches, and the Carroll Arts Center was a fantastic venue."