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West Virginia Hive, WVU Tech Launch Lab to host 2023 Pitch Southern West Virginia Business Idea Competition Oct. 12

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BECKLEY, W.Va. – The West Virginia Hive, in partnership with the West Virginia University Institute of Technology (WVU Tech) Launch Lab, will host their next Pitch Southern West Virginia Business Idea Competition on Oct. 12, from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the WVU Tech campus in Beckley, W.Va.

Diana Woods, director of the WVU Tech Launch Lab who is serving as coordinator of the event, said a panel of judges will select the winners and award nearly $5,000 in prizes.  The funding for the awards is from private contributors. Woods said the upcoming pitch competition is open to residents and businesses located in Raleigh, Fayette, Nicholas, Summers, Webster, Pocahontas, Greenbrier, Monroe, Mercer, Wyoming, McDowell, Logan and Mingo Counties and WVU Tech students, faculty and staff. Entries to the business idea competition are limited to entrepreneurs of new start-ups and businesses in operation for less than three years.  Applications will be divided into community (non-student) and student divisions.

LeeAnn Goins, co-owner of Hinton Outfitters, pitching her business expansion idea at the last Southern West Virginia Business Idea Pitch Competition at WVU Tech. Hinton Outfitters was the grand prize winner of the competition. Photo courtesy of WV Hive

Woods said the deadline to submit an application is 5:00 p.m., Thursday, September 14, 2023.  Applications can be downloaded at wvhive.com and should be emailed to Woods at: [email protected]

Judy Moore, executive director of the WV Hive and deputy director of the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority, said a panel of judges will evaluate the entries to the Pitch Southern West Virginia Business Idea Competition and select finalists to present in-person on October 12. She said all finalists will be provided additional details and afforded opportunities for coaching on how to create a winning pitch presentation.

During the in-person competition, each entrepreneur will have five minutes to present their business idea to a panel of judges and explain why it is innovative and how it will make a difference to residents of southern West Virginia.  Each presentation will be followed by a brief question and answer period with the judges.

In addition to the $2,000 grand prize, smaller prize awards will be given to second and third place winners in the community division. Prize money for the community division must be used to further develop the business idea. Top prize for the student division is $1,000, which can be used to further develop the business idea or go toward the student’s education at WVU Tech.

Woods said a new element with this installment is the “audience favorite” award.  Everyone in attendance will have opportunity to vote and the entrepreneur who receives the most votes will win $250.  This year’s Gold sponsors of the event are United Bank and the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority. Additional sponsorship opportunities are available. Those interested in sponsoring should contact Beth Epperson at [email protected] or 304-460-4483. All sponsorship funds are provided to the contestants as winnings.

“The Hive and Launch Lab encourage all eligible entrepreneurs and business ideators to apply,” said Moore. “Over the years, winners in this pitch competition have gone on to do remarkable things and the winnings helped them tremendously in creating or growing their small businesses. We are proud to provide these opportunities for entrepreneurial growth throughout southern West Virginia.”

The WV Hive is the entrepreneurship program of the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority. Its 13-county service area includes Raleigh, Fayette, Summers, Nicholas, Braxton, Webster, Greenbrier, Pocahontas, Monroe, Mercer, McDowell, and Wyoming counties. More information about the WV Hive can be found at wvhive.com.

WVU Tech has been training leaders for more than 125 years and offers 30 academic programs, including ABET-accredited engineering programs. Ranked in the top 15% of earning potential in the country by PayScale and among the best undergraduate engineering programs in the nation by US News and World Report, WVU Tech has a rich history of academic excellence. More information is available at wvutech.edu.

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