4 Finalists of the COSE Small Business Pitch Competition Announced; $20k, $10k & $5k winners to be selected at 2014 COSE Small Business Conference Oct 22

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In just a few days, COSE will kick off the 2014 Small Business Convention by awarding $40,000 to the top four winners in the 4th Annual Small Business Pitch Competition October 22, 2014 at 5:00 pm at the Kalahari Resort and Convention Center in Sandusky. The COSE Business Pitch Competition provides aspiring small business owners, in business for less than two years or generating less than $250,000 in revenues, the unique opportunity to win up to $20,000 to get their idea off the ground while gaining valuable insight from successful business owners who have discovered their key to success.

In just a few days, COSE will kick off the 2014 Small Business Convention by awarding $40,000 to the top four winners in the 4th Annual Small Business Pitch Competition October 22, 2014 at 5:00 pm at the Kalahari Resort and Convention Center in Sandusky.

The COSE Business Pitch Competition provides aspiring small business owners, in business for less than two years or generating less than $250,000 in revenues, the unique opportunity to win up to $20,000 to get their idea off the ground while gaining valuable insight from successful business owners who have discovered their key to success.

All winners receive a complimentary one-year membership to COSE and access to all its products and services. COSE membership offers networking, education and connections to resources, including COSE’s new platform, Linktunity, created to connect business owners to professionals, such as attorneys or accountants who can provide invaluable advice – http://www.linktunity.com.

This year’s four finalists are:

Shelly Shelley Fasulko and John Pippin – Brewnuts (Craft beer infused donuts);

Ryan Schoeneman and Matthew McIntosh - Colby Featherbottom's Custom Sound Machines (Custom body shape electric guitars);

Kevin Wang and Eric Vennaro – Consult Mango (International social media advertising platform targeting colleges); and

Natalie Bauman – Digital Mosaic (An app allowing seniors to simply record their life stories for future generations).

This year, The Business Pitch competition kicked off mid-September, when 74 applicants submitted two page executive summaries and two minute video presentations pitching their business ideas. The field was narrowed down to 12 semi-finalists near the end of September. These semi-finalists presented their best pitch and answered questions from judges in person in early October, at which time the four finalists were selected.

This year’s judges include:

Rion Safier, Rion Safier Accounting, LLC, Chairman of the COSE board

Inna Kinney, Founder and CEO of the Economic and Community Development Institute

Paul Dolan, CEO of the Cleveland Indians

Claude Booker, Simply Southern Sides

As COSE prepared for the 2014 Competition, they started to wonder about past winners and so checked in with a few so see how they were doing.

2012’s third place winner Mike Stanek is currently an active COSE board member so he was easy to find. On a whim, he decided to enter Cleveland Cycle Tours, founded that year, into the Shark Tank-style competition at the last minute. Offering its first tour in 2013, participants can take a two hour pub crawl or historic tour of Ohio City and Tremont on a group party bike that seats up to 15 people.

“Winning felt like validation that we had a good business idea,” said Stanek. “In addition to the prize, COSE has been instrumental to our business. They’ve been able to connect us to various contacts that have allowed our business to grow faster than we would’ve been able to do on our own,” Stanek said.

Like Stanek, 2013’s second place winner Erika Boll had a unique product and found the competition to be beneficial for her business. Boll always loved her grandmother’s consistently praised granola recipe and, when she was diagnosed with Celiac disease, she decided to devote a career to making a gluten-free version of her favorite family recipe widely available.

The $10,000 second place prize allowed Boll to transition The Toasted Oat, then three months old, from a start-up with the owner making deliveries using her own car to a successful company with product in 51 stores around Ohio with a national growth strategy about to be implemented. Boll used the actual cash to purchase new equipment and upgrade her space.

Winning was “fantastic,” according to Boll. “It gave me not only the financial boost, but the emotional encouragement boost you need when you’re just starting out.”

A smart and motivated business woman, Boll took full advantage of participating in the Small Business Convention in 2013, with a booth that offered samples and sold granola to the variety of business leaders and entrepreneurs that participate in the conference each year.

“It was a very positive experience for us. Even l today COSE continues to be a resource for us. If I’m struggling to find the right person to talk to, they are always willing to lend a hand wherever they can to direct me to the right connection.”

Anyone interested in seeing the Small Business Pitch Competition must register for the 2014 Small Business Conference: http://www.smallbizconvention.com/Register.aspx.

About COSE:

COSE (Council of Smaller Enterprises) is committed to empowering small business success through a series of programs, services, events, and resources that support entrepreneurs, their businesses—and their employees. COSE helps small businesses achieve their idea of success in order to build richer, more vibrant communities that improve the economic climate and enhance quality of life. You can learn more about COSE at http://www.cose.org or contacting one of our small business concierges at 866-553-5427.

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Katherine Bulava

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