PUEBLO – Local celebrity venture capitalist sharks ate up the business plan ideas from student and adult entrepreneurs alike, who benefitted from a competition sponsored by the Healy Center in the Hasan School of Business at Colorado State University-Pueblo and Junior Achievement. The final negotiations were held and awards announced on April 5 in CSU-Pueblo’s Massari Arena. Capitalists for the competition were Sean McCarthy, Jim Stilwell representing DD Marketing, Josh Wilcoxson, and Michaela Gallina.
Local entrepreneur and founder of The Hand Truck Company Judy Kochevar, along with her partner and inventor, Richard Cortese, walked away with $50,000 in start-up funding from local venture capitalist Sean McCarthy. The Hand Truck Company offers a new twist on an old product. Their patent-pending hand truck has moveable handles shafts that cause the wheels to pivot, allowing the hand truck to move side-to-side, in addition to the normal forward and back directions. Cortese demonstrated an adjustable, retractable strap attachment that adds increased flexibility for any hand truck. Kochevar and McCarthy tentatively agreed to $50,000 in venture capital funding in exchange for a time-limited controlling interest in the company of 51 percent. Kochevar will have the option of repurchasing shares of the company at a future point in time.
CSU-Pueblo’s Healy Center played host for the adult competition, open to anyone, anywhere, as long as the business is opened and operated in Pueblo County. Nearly 100 people registered for the contest, and The Hand Truck Company was among five of the entries that were selected as finalists.
Cash prizes also were awarded in the adult competition, contingent upon the entrepreneurs launching their business. Diana Hall, representing 3D Medscan, earned $5,000 toward office/building rent from the PEDCO Foundation (NOTE: prize money is NOT derived from the half cent sales tax) as well as a $3,000 Social Entrepreneur Award from Dave Feamster of Little Caesar’s Pizza. Kochevar also received a $1,500 Urban Renewal Award from Pueblo Urban Renewal Authority to locate in a Historically Underutilized Business Zone.
Help Kids Learn
The Hand Truck Company
Other business plans pitched were:
• Shalimar Ultra Gourmet Ice Cream by Tene’ Greenhood and Kandy Kandola, who served ultra-creamy ice cream meant to cleanse the palate between courses of a meal. Flavors offered to the venture capitalists were rose, mango, and ginger in delicate dishes and on individualized spoons.
• HyGrip by Troy and Kenneth Aragon, who offered a prototype wristband that contained a moisturizing agent designed to eliminate the need for athletes to lick their fingers to improve their grip on a ball.
• Trigger Time Indoor Shooting Range by Rick Martinez.
In the student division, Centennial High School Junior Cindy Dou claimed the top prize of $1,000 cash and a $4,000 scholarship to the Hasan School of Business in the student competition hosted by Junior Achievement for her Help Kids Learn online tutoring plan.
Connect Charter Academy eighth grader Ryan Madic earned $500 for his Super Protein vending machine plan for health clubs and gyms, while School of Engineering and Biomedical Science ninth grader Mark Hedrick took home $300 for his TAP (Technology Assisted Prosthetic), a device that enables people who have lost fingers to use touch pad electronic devices. Connect Charter Academy sixth grader Katie Madic’s Light N’ Loom earned a $200 prize. Her modification of the popular rubber band looms for making bracelets and necklaces include built-in LEDs which allow the weaver to work in low light conditions without disturbing others.
Part of the appeal for venture capitalists is the pledge of ongoing consulting support provided by the Healy Center. The mission of the Healy Center is to facilitate economic development for southeastern Colorado. According to Wakefield, this competition and subsequent consultation for businesses represents the type of activity offered by the Healy Center that supports economic development and job growth. The Healy Center offers consulting through student fellowships, and through classroom projects, to a variety of organizations in our community.
For more information as a future sponsor or contestant, contact Mike Wakefield at 719.549.2933, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Colorado State University - Pueblo is a regional, comprehensive university emphasizing professional, career-oriented, and applied programs. Displaying excellence in teaching, celebrating diversity, and engaging in service and outreach, CSU-Pueblo is distinguished by access, opportunity, and the overall quality of services provided to its students.