Top winners of $15,000 local small business pitch competition announced
Council Bluffs, IA, October 20, 2021 - TS Bank and Advance Southwest Iowa, along with several additional supporting sponsors, are pleased to announce the winners of the REV pitch competition held Tuesday, October 19, 2021 at Hoff Family Arts and Culture Center where small business owners pitched for the chance to win $15,000 to grow their business. This year's winners included Viva Fit Kitchen at $12,000 and The Occasional Collective at $3,000.
Viva Fit Kitchen of Council Bluffs took the grand prize with $12,000 awarded. Founder and Lead Chef Alejandra Valdez recently started her business to help build a healthy community by making healthy food convenient and affordable. It is the only meal prep service of its kind in the region that provides nutritious, healthy and authentic Mexican meals.
“Thank you for believing in my dream and making the investment in my vision,” said Alejandra Valdez, founder and owner of Viva Fit Kitchen. “Impacting our community is so huge for us, this investment will help us in becoming more accessible to our community. Viva Fit Kitchen is ready to take it to the next level.”
“The leading causes of death are associated by our lifestyles. If we can influence the community in living a healthier life; we can make big changes. We want everyone to become the best version of themselves and that starts from the inside!”
Viva Fit Kitchen plans to use the $12,000 in REV funds to help pay two new fridges, licensing and inventory costs. There are plans to place fridges in high traffic areas locally as well as with several local large employers. As they grow their vending machine locations, the plan is to open their own production kitchen and teach master classes on starting and growing other meal prep businesses.
The Occasional Collective, a business planning to open a unique storefront in Treynor, Iowa, was awarded $3,000. The store will sell thoughtfully curated, sustainably focused and locally sources goods including unique, small batch, handcrafted items.
Having locally sources goods helps with environmental impact and creates important economic opportunities for rural communities. The funds will be used to build out the storefront's exterior and interior as well as to secure equipment and merchandise. The Occasional Collective currently sells its goods online and has plans for a grand opening of the storefront in 2022.
From the pool of 25 applicants, TS Bank and Advance Southwest Iowa selected five applicants to pitch to a panel of judges where contestants were evaluated on various aspects of their business. Judges included Andrea Fredrickson of Revela, Josh Kallsen of POWERTECH, Jim Reiff of Nebraska Enterprise Fund and Mark Hanwright of Heartland Properties. After the five pitches in front of a private audience, judges deliberated and decided how they would distribute the $15,000.
The three other top five applicants included Chef Around the Block, who brings quality culinary endeavors to the masses through delicious food and education; Hellcat Technologies, a new mobile app and web portal platform company for telecom and public utilities; and Tossibles, a new fem tech brand bringing sanity and style to feminine hygiene disposal.
TS Bank originally started REV in 2015 in an effort to spur economic growth and encourage business owners to continue pursuing their dreams. This year's event crossed the $100,000 threshold total awarded through this program.
The public portion of the program started at 5 p.m. with networking, appetizers and a business expo featuring event sponsors. Additionally, TEDx speaker, Bill Eckstrom presented, “Why comfort will ruin your life” stemming from his viral TEDx Talk, the fastest growing video in the history of the event. He shared his life-altering, personal and professional development ideas through the introduction of “Growth Rings" to an audience of around 75 people. The night concluded with the REV winner announcement party.
REV is hosted by TS Bank and Advance Southwest Iowa. Other major sponsors include Nebraska Enterprise Fund, Revela, POWERTECH, Google, Heartland Properties, Iowa Western Community College, along with additional sponsors, Pozzi Family Foundation, Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce, Castle and Associates, Inc., Kitchen Council, Rachel Dorr Accounting, Mills County, IA Economic Development Corporation, Modern Matriarch Distillery, Startup Space and Proven Ventures.
If you have any questions or would like to receive information on next year's competition, please reach out to Kelsey Stupfell at TS Bank by calling 712.487.0334 or Niki Ferguson at Advance Southwest Iowa at 402.720.8799.
About TS Bank: TS Bank’s mission is to Ignite Prosperity® in the communities it serves. Leading the resurgence of community banking, TS Bank reinvests 10 percent of their net income locally; hosting educational events and partners with local organizations and non-profits. TS Bank was chartered in 1923 and has $365 million in assets, along with the largest Iowa state-chartered C-Corp trust department west of Des Moines at nearly $218 million in assets named TS Prosperity Group. Locations include Treynor, Macedonia, Atlantic, Corning, Council Bluffs and Ames, Iowa. For more information visit tsbank.com.
About Advance Southwest Iowa: Advance Southwest Iowa Corporation is the economic development organization for Council Bluffs and all communities in Pottawattamie County. Advance is a one-stop shop for economic development with a focus on business attraction, retention, entrepreneurship and site development. The Advance staff are proud to work alongside our many community partners to enhance the image and increase the tax base to make Pottawattamie County a prosperous and desirable community to live and do business. For more information visit advancesouthwestiowa.com.