On Saturday, November 23, five Big Pitch finalists will vie for a share of $50,000 in cash and professional services prize packages, as they pitch their business models to a panel of judges, potential investors, and a live audience (that’s you—buy your tickets now!). Big Pitch finalists are paired with mentors and service providers to help them prepare a successful business model and perfect pitch for the annual competition organized by REV Birmingham.
Now, let’s meet the 2019 Big Pitch finalists:
- The Blueroot Company: Jennifer Ryan fills her produce-forward menu with bright, delicious, and nutrient-rich foods, showcasing the best our local farmers have to offer.
- Elysian Gardens: William and Kelly Colburn of Iron Age Studio are planning a community sculpture park in Avondale where art, music, & food connect neighbors, build bridges, and open doors in our city.
- Encore Rouge: Antoinne and Shantale Davis are serving bold flavorful authentic Cajun fare from their food truck as they work toward opening their brick-and-mortar restaurant.
- Relaxation Room: Massage therapist Adrian Ward has plans to create the Relaxation Room, where you can sit in a massage chair, put on virtual goggles, and take a trip to a peaceful place.
- Sidekicks: Bonaventure Akinlosotu and Joseph Bradley of Sidekicks in Avondale are driving Birmingham’s sneaker culture as they aim to grow their shop into a boutique-style smart store.
“This year’s finalists represent an exciting mix of food, retail and experience creation concepts that would all add to Birmingham’s vibrancy,” said REV CEO and President David Fleming. “The Big Pitch Presented by PNC is designed to find and feed Birmingham’s next big things, and we believe all five of these businesses fit that build. Throughout the Big Pitch process and even beyond the live event, REV and our sponsors, mentors and service providers will support these entrepreneurs as they work toward their dreams.”
The Big Pitch live competition is Saturday, November 23 from 1 to 4 p.m. at 1900 2nd Avenue North, which is also the location of REV’s Upswing project from September through December. Big Pitch tickets are available now at bigpitchbham.com.
Each finalist has been paired with a local entrepreneur who will serve as a mentor throughout their Big Pitch experience. These mentors have either started, built or sold successful ventures of their own. Service providers are professionals in areas like business law, accounting, marketing and more who have been selected to provide a free one-on-one consultation to finalists.
This is the sixth year PNC has sponsored the Big Pitch. In addition to offering capital to the top competitors, PNC employees provide coaching and other support for all finalists.
Other sponsors include Poole & Company Architects and Barfield Murphy Shank & Smith. Gatehouse Law, Red Thread Consulting and TruFund are also contributing time and talents to support the entrepreneurs.
As they plan their Big Pitch, finalists will attend REV’s three technical assistance workshops, which are also open to the public. Tickets are available for aspiring entrepreneurs and growth-minded small business owners at bigpitchbham.com.
- Telling Your Brand Story | Friday, October 11 | 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
- Start-up to Storefront | Friday, October 11 | 12:30 p.m. – 2 p.m.
- Funding Your Dream | Friday, October 11 | 2:30 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Past Big Pitch finalists include Zebbie Carney of Eugene’s Hot Chicken, a food truck plus brick-and-mortar near Uptown; Kelli and Stephen Steward of Gatos and Beans, Alabama’s only cat café (in Avondale); and Kate Hardy of Square One Goods, a cheeky gift shop in Founder’s Station downtown.
Magic City Match is a program that transforms lives and opens doors for Black entrepreneurs and business owners. Led by REV Birmingham and powered by Prosper, this initiative aims to create opportunities for Black-owned businesses by matching them with brick-and-mortar spaces where they can thrive. After a successful pilot program in 2022, Magic City Match is back in action and ready to empower a new wave of entrepreneurs.
One of the most legendary and storied neighborhoods of Birmingham is Woodlawn. It is a community, anchored by one of the great public high schools of Birmingham, that has produced many citizens who contributed to the life of our city and has had an impact beyond the neighborhood itself. In a short post like this true justice cannot be done to the rich heritage and legacy of Woodlawn. However, we hope that this narrative brings together many of the diverse threads that make up the fabric of the community’s historic arc in a concise piece.
Woof, woof! I’ve been having an absolute blast visiting my sister in Downtown Birmingham. I can hardly wait to share all the details with you once you return from your vacation. In the meantime, I wanted to put paw to paper and tell you all about it, with the hope of convincing you that moving Downtown could be the most wonderful decision ever.