Editor’s note: Startland News’ coverage of Global Entrepreneurship Week-Kansas City is made possible by the support of Husch Blackwell.
The value of local support should not be underestimated or taken for granted, said Elaina Thomas, winner of the $25,000 grand prize at Thursday’s AltCap Your Biz pitch competition.
“I feel blessed, I feel like I am in the right place, I could’ve started The Next Paige anywhere I wanted to, nationally, and I’m so glad I started in Kansas City,” said Thomas, founder of The Next Paige, Kansas City’s first Black-owned talent agency.
“The support here has been so amazing on what we are trying to do here by bringing this industry back to Kansas City,” she added. “I can’t do it alone.”
The AltCap Your Biz: Pitch Competition, in its eighth year, fuels Kansas City innovators, giving them the opportunity to pitch their business and win big during Global Entrepreneurship Week-Kansas City with cash prizes to accelerate their growth.
On her winning night, Thomas, full of gratitude, reflected on the personal journey it took her to get to the rewarding moment.
“As a Black woman entrepreneur, I’m thinking of all the challenges and the barriers that I had to cross to get to this point,” she said.
“I was a former performer and now a business woman. It’s an emotional moment and it’s not a theory, this is facts. I think the judges connected to the impact, we are doers in this community, and the evidence is tangible,” said Thomas.
Click here to read about the 2022 AltCap Your Biz grand prize winner.
Watch a video featuring Elaina Paige Thomas below, then keep reading for more AltCap Your Biz awardees.
Kemet Coleman and Elliott Ivory, co-founders of Vine Street Brewing, secured the second place $10,000 cash prize, propelling their brewery’s mission to foster inclusivity through art, community service, music, and the love of beer.
“I think we brought something authentic and unique, and something that could potentially be scaled more,” said co-founder Coleman.
With plans to expand their production capacity and build a new state-of-the-art cold room, the team has big dreams of pushing the margin on the brewery’s innovation.
“I think Alt Cap does a really good job at supporting local businesses, and we’re serious about ours, we’ve got good opportunities,” Coleman said.
The fan favorite of the night, Triumfia Houmbie Fulks was awarded $2,500 for her startup, CodeAlgo Academy, a 3D Computer Science gaming platform that teaches K-8 students coding.
“The fans saw the results,” said Fulks, who recently earned a winning spot among 2023 LaunchKC grant recipients. “As an engineer, I wish I had the chance to learn coding early on, and I feel like there are a lot of young people who also didn’t get that chance. So we are providing the opportunity for them to learn that you can.”
The $5,000 Changemaker award was split equally between Godfrey Riddle, founder of Civic Saint, a sustainable housing organization, and Roy Scott, founder of Healthy Hip Hop, an online platform offering hip-hop for children and families.
Additional pitchers who competed Thursday included:
Co-Angler (John Bledsoe), Springfield, Missouri — An online platform dedicated to connecting anyone and everyone who shares a passion for fishing.
Nexodesk (Jimmy James, Lopez Maradiaga), Kansas City, Kansas — Designed for startup and business owners, Nexodesk creates solutions for tech problems with professional services.
The Black Pantry (Brian Roberts), Kansas City, Missouri — A one-stop shop for all things Black-owned, such as quality pantry and self care products.
The AI Hub (James Spikes, Taylor Burris), Kansas City, Missouri — An art incubator with co-working lounges, fully equipped studios, and hubs to develop skills.
VenBoo (Juaquan Herron), Kansas City, Missouri — An app allowing organizers to post their vendor opportunities and connect with different vendors across the Midwest.
Wrax (Frankie Elder-Reedy), Pleasanton, Kansas — A harness designed to better fit breasts and prevent bouncing during workouts.
Yes! Athletics (Deb North), Topeka, Kansas — A women-owned sporting goods company that offers feminine styles and colors in traditionally male sports gear.
Click here for a photo gallery of the pitch competition from AltCap.