Gauntlet competition reaches its final stages

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The Gauntlet Business Program and Competition is wrapping up for 2017. Entrepreneurs Gray and Michelle Craig presented their business, Blue Ridge Makers Guild, to classmates and stand-in judges at a practice session on April 18.

The Gauntlet Business Program classes have wrapped up for 2017. Entrepreneurs are now in the process of making their individual presentations to a panel of judges with $200,000 in cash and in-kind prizes to be awarded at the Gauntlet Awards Ceremony at the Vinton War Memorial on May 11.

This is the third annual Gauntlet Business Program and Competition. Classes were held at the Vinton War Memorial on Tuesday nights and at the HIVE Business Incubation Center on Thursday mornings with the intention of assisting fledgling entrepreneurs to establish or expand businesses.

The Gauntlet is the brainchild of The Advancement Foundation founder and president Annette Patterson.

Last year the program focused on Vinton businesses. This year the concept has expanded into a regional venture including Botetourt and Roanoke Counties.

Over 80 entrepreneurs participated in the sessions, “studying the feasibility of their proposed business, exploring business models, and developing business plans.”

“The Advancement Foundation is committed to providing comprehensive support for our entrepreneurs,” said Patterson. “We have partners in Botetourt and Roanoke County Economic Development Departments, the Small Business Development Center, Virginia Tourism, Virginia’s Department of Housing and Community Development and many local businesses.”

Gauntlet entrepreneurs are evaluated by panels of judges on their presentations (pitches) combined with scores on the feasibility of their business, their written business plan, class participation, and homework.

Patterson said that each entrepreneur will receive a prize of some type (cash and/or in-kind) tailored for their individual needs.

In the final week of classes on April 17 and April 20, students were able to hone their presentations in small groups before their fellow entrepreneurs and stand-in judges. Their classmates and the judges provided valuable feedback on how to improve their presentations. Students in the Gauntlet say that the supportive relationships they have built with other Gauntlet competitors have been one of the best aspects of the Gauntlet experience.

Individual presentations are scheduled with the judges for April 24 through May 9.