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REV Birmingham is proud to announce Kristen Farmer Hall of The Baking Bandits the $10,000 winner of THE BIG PITCH, Presented by PNC. The highly-anticipated business pitching competition took place this past Saturday, November 8th at Trim Tab Brewing Company. Magic City Spool bus was secondary winner of AL.com’s $5,000 People’s Choice Award.

Baking Bandits is an up-and-coming craft bakery that made its first public debut during REV Birmingham’s 2013 REVIVE: The Street Life Project (which showcased pop-up shops and revitalization strategies in five target Birmingham districts.) Since then, Kristen has made numerous appearances at area farmers markets and special events, garnering a solid following of Birmingham supporters.

The company will use the $10,000 prize (made possible by PNC) to expand its business reach. Part of that strategy is the opening of a storefront in the exploding Avondale business district.

“There’s an energy that exists there.” said Kristin Farmer Hall, owner and operator of Baking Bandits. “Avondale is growing and we want to be a part of that growth.”

Magic City Spool Bus is a sewing classroom on wheels, designed to provide classes to Birmingham City schools, birthday parties, and community events.

Top 10 BIG PITCH Contestants Included:

Baking Bandits/Kristen Farmer Hall: Unique, hand-crafted baked goods using local ingredients

Bare Naked Noodles/Linda Croley: Fresh artisan pasta using local ingredients

Contract Concierge/Ira Weiss: Eco-friendly professional concierge delivery service

Eugene’s Hot Chicken/Zebbie Carney: A Tennessee hot chicken restaurant

Heyday Retromart/Steve Dapkus: Retail store selling work shirts and vintage patches

Life Touch Massage/Lemar & Tiffany Storey: Downtown massage spa for locals and travelers

Magic City Spool Bus/Christine McLean & Lillis Taylor: A mobile studio that brings the sewing room to the customer

Magic City Sweet Ice/Wani & David Shaw: An Italian Ice push-cart hoping to open a brick & mortar store

Piper and Leaf/Caleb Christopher: Family company selling locally grown blends of artisan teas

Sprout and Pour/Amanda Blake Turner: Cold-pressed juicery offering farm-to-bottle nutritious juices

Each BIG PITCH finalist team spent more than 30 hours prior to THE BIG PITCH immersed in intensive workshops with mentors from successful businesses around the area. Contestants also had access to marketing professionals, graphic designers, legal and financial advice, and pitch coaches prior to the competition. All of the companies walk away from the competition with an improved business plan.

“It was a really great opportunity to have a community of professionals to review your concept with a critical eye.” said Hall after her victory.

THE BIG PITCH judges included: Brian Bucher, North Alabama’s Regional President of PNC Bank, Lisa Cooper, City of Birmingham’s Director of Economic Development, Bob Dickerson, Executive Director of the Birmingham Business Resource Center, and Joe McCarty or Timberline Investments.

Finalists were judged on three criteria:

1.Viability – How likely the business is to succeed and grow

2.Vibrancy – What the company will do to add to the Birmingham community.

3.Use of Funds – The judges want the money to be spent immediately and effectively, ideally in the Birmingham area.

The judges asked consistent questions of all of the contestants. Among the most common were about the assurance of a long term market for the company’s product or service and what the company will do to improve Birmingham’s business community.

The winner of the AL.com People’s Choice Award was chosen through a combination of a Facebook Poll, which was released last week, and a vote from those at attendance at the Big Pitch. Individual profiles on all BIG PITCH competitors can be found on the AL.com website — www.al.com.

Additional sponsors of THE BIG PITCH include Protective Life, Royal Cup and Public Radio WBHM 90.3 FM. The Alabama Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), Public Relations Council of Alabama (PRCA) and the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) Birmingham Chapter were also proud partners in the project.

For more information on THE BIG PITCH, visit www.revbirmingham.org/BIGPITCH.

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