The NWA StartUp Cup announced its 2013 winners during a celebration held Thursday morning (Dec. 19) at the Bentonville Public Library.
The three finalists come from a list of more than 30 entrepreneurs who originally entered the business model competition that encourages any entrepreneurs with any idea to participate. The winners include:
• 1st place: Rob Turner with Turner Light Covers, which is a company that offers a new, uniquely designed mounted recessed light cover.
• 2nd place: Jared and Sunniva Ritter with Solgave Animal Solutions, a socially-conscious company founded upon four pillars: nature, animals, balance and healing. SAS offers professional pet sitting, house sitting, dog walking, behavior modification, and a variety of other pet-related services.
• 3rd place: Mike Gillespie with Storage in Motion, which is a company that plans to produce a line of superior products for safely and responsibly storing firearms in vehicles and homes.
The winners will receive free professional services with value amounts varying based on how they placed in the final competition. First place will receive up to $7,500 in free services, $5,000 for second place and $2,500 for third place.
Event organizers will meet with the individual winning companies in coming weeks to determine their specific needs and connect the entrepreneurs with a network of professionals volunteering their time and talents for the competition.
The top three winners will also receive a free photo shoot and the first-place winner is eligible to submit an entry to compete in the World StartUp Cup in Yerevan, Armenia this March.
Turner, who earned the top spot said he was determined to maintain a positive attitude throughout the entire process.
“The most helpful aspect was being able to better understand what is necessary to take my business to the next level,” he said.
Sunniva Ritter said that for her and husband Jared, the most valuable aspect was becoming more focused in their business in regards to what services they offer. They also were able to better differentiate between their business model and goals for a non-profit organization that gives dogs a “second chance” with behavior modification and rehabilitation.
Mike Gillespie said he appreciated being “exposed to a lot of different approaches” to the business and that it was “eye-opening” to see the different way ways that he could take his business to market.
The celebration included comments from Daniel Hintz, former director of Downtown Bentonville Inc. and self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur. He spoke of the hardships and joys that accompany entrepreneurialism.
“It’s your company, your beliefs, your philosophy,” he said in regards to the need for personal and professional branding.
Amy Robinson, director of strategic partnerships and event production with StartUp Cup, also spoke at the celebration.
“We’re solving the challenges we encounter right in front of us,” she said of entrepreneurs all over the world. “This is what you’re a part of on a global scale.”