Winners of $20,000 small business pitch competition announced
Council Bluffs, IA, November 3, 2022 - Advance Southwest Iowa and TS Bank, along with several additional supporting sponsors, are pleased to announce the winners of the REV pitch competition held Thursday, November 2 at Hoff Family Arts and Culture Center where small business owners pitched for the chance to win $20,000 to grow their business. This year's winners include Gillett Hauling at $15,000 and OCookieOs at $5,000.
Gillett Hauling, an Underwood, Iowa, based trucking company, is committed to delivering equipment safely and on time, alongside growing customer trust and community engagement. The new startup launched in April 2022.
Pictured above (left to right): Niki Ferguson with Advance Southwest Iowa Corporation, Clayton Gillett with Gillett Hauling, Inc. and REV 2023 grand prize winner and Austin Diehm with TS Bank.
“A special thank you to Advance Southwest Iowa and TS Bank and sponsors who make this event possible. I am so grateful for the opportunity and extremely grateful to be selected,” said owner Clayton Gillett. “These funds will help expand our reach as well as positively impact our region’s infrastructure development by delivering the equipment needed for timely jobs. I’m excited for the future.”
Gillett Hauling plans to use the $15,000 funds for rebranding semi-truck graphics, upgrading air seats, purchasing of a third semi and hiring future driver(s).
OCookieOs, is a newly established food start-up creating gluten free cookie-donuts packed with protein located in Council Bluffs. Nichole Bartlett, founder, created the company out of a need to find gluten-free dietary options for her son, Vincent Rissell, who now also works for the company.
Pictured above (left to right): Niki Ferguson with Advance Southwest Iowa Corporation, Nichole Bartlett, Scott Taff and Vincent Rissell with OCookieOs and REV 2023 winner and Austin Diehm with TS Bank.
“REV is such a great opportunity to grow in our community and a jumping pad to further launch our business into more markets. We are excited to continue to expand our brand presence and streamline our processes as well as showcase our hallmark of ‘deliciousness delivered’ with each customer,” said OCookieOs founder, Nichole Bartlett.
OCookiesOs plans to use the funds for product analysis to improve their food labeling, an automatic band sealer and packaging trimmer as well as custom branding to increase delivery options.
Over 43 REV applications were received between July 1 through September 10. In September third-party selection committee determined which five finalists would pitch to a panel of judges where contestants were evaluated on various aspects of their business.
This year’s finalists included include Bev’s Porch of Neola, Entry Envy of Omaha, O Cookie O’s of Council Bluffs, Gillett Hauling of Underwood and Judge Richard Distillery of Carson. Last night’s pitches took place in front of a record-breaking live audience of nearly 200 people.
This year’s judges included Josh Kallsen from PowerTech, Vivian Kvam from Tandem Works, Kaylee Williams with InnoVenture Iowa and Rick Faber with Growth Guru. After the pitches, judges deliberated behind the scenes and determined the $20,000 would be distributed with $15,000 being awarded to Gillett Hauling and $5,000 awarded to OCookieOs.
The three other finalists included Bev’s Porch of Neola, a handcrafted coffee shop featuring unique locally made gifts with over 30 makers; Entry Envy, a personalized exterior and interior signage company with faux florals flair; and Judge Richard Distillery of Carson, a new premier southwest Iowa distillery with a soon-to-be event venue and tasting room.
Due to the overwhelming number of applicants, five business spotlights were also selected to participate in the event. This year’s spotlights included Serenity Massage & Energywork Day Spa, Neighborhood Bakehouse, Humbl Roots, Nexus Aero Systems and Dillard Management. Through an audience QR code polling system, Humbl Roots was selected as this year’s People’s Choice Award winner receiving a $500 cash prize.
Pictured above (left to right): Niki Ferguson with Advance Southwest Iowa Corporation, Jake and Jacque Burklund with Humbl Roots and REV 2023 people's choice award winner and Austin Diehm with TS Bank.
“We are so grateful for the exposure and networking with others. The People’s Choice Award will help us pay for more ingredients and to get the word out about our business,” said Jake Burklund owner of Humbl Roots.
Pictured above is Austin Diehm with TS Bank and Niki Ferguson with Advance Southwest Iowa presenting Jake and Jacque Burklund with Humble Roots with their People's Choice Award winnings.
TS Bank originally started REV in 2015 in an effort to spur economic growth and encourage business owners to continue pursuing their dreams. Since 2020, TS Bank and Advance Southwest Iowa have teamed up to run the competition and host the signature event. As of today, $138,000 has been awarded through this program.
Pictured above (left to right) are the four judges Rick Faber with Growth Guru, Vivan Kvam with Tandem Works, Kaylee Williams with InnoVenture Iowa and Josh Kassen with PowerTech.
Major premier sponsors include TS Bank, Advance Southwest Iowa, Iowa Western Community College, PowerTech and Tandem Works. Additional sponsors include food sponsor Castle and Associates Inc., drink sponsor InnoVenture Iowa and media sponsor Bluffs Country 106.5. Plus, Nebraska Enterprise Fund who helped sponsor the People's Choice Award, Greater Omaha Chamber, Google, Goosmann Law Firm, Growth Guru, Rachel Dorr Accounting and Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce.
If you have any questions or would like to know more about REV, 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 $423 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.