Venture Challenge Finalists, 2019
On June 14th, ten San Antonio entrepreneurs pitched to a panel of investors and judges. The six minute presentations were the culmination of months of challenges, preparation, and practice. Oscar Perez of Tio Pelon’s Salcitas, Stephanie Garza of Pup Pup and Away, Mike McAndrews of Lil’ Red’s Boiled Peanuts, Letesha Newsom of Newsom Fitness, Thomas Gillen of 21st Century College Fairs, Michael Derouen of MoveIT, Lika Toreline of In the Weeds Natural Skin Care, Heaven Handley with The Handley Man, Rob Green of Texas Cultures, and Valerie Rutan of Good Dog Park and Bar are all finalists in Venture Challenge, a program that provides local business owners the opportunity to earn knowledge and funding through individual challenges and personalized milestones. The finalists completed every challenge, made a growth plan for their company, and now hoped to convince the panel to award them some of the funding raised by LaunchSA to encourage entrepreneurial growth in the community.
According to Oscar Perez, “The challenges helped me establish a full investment package that will help me grow my company. This is the third year I’ve done it and I’ve been able to set goals for my company for the past three years that have served as a guideline for growth.” Other finalists echoed this sentiment. Thomas Gillen said “I particularly liked the part of the program that got us to be finalists, where we had to project out what we were going to be doing for the next year as if it had already happened. It gave us an opportunity to see where we would be and to set those goals so now, when November rolls around, I have an idea of where I want to be.” Stephanie Garza said that the program gave her concrete steps to achieve her vision and push her company to the next level. “It’s always been in my mind but seemed so far away, and so this has really helped me see what I need to do to get there.”
The finalists were certainly nervous, but they had a lot of love for the other small business owners in the group. “It was a little nerve wracking,” said Lika Toreline, “but really exciting. It’s a great opportunity, my contestants were amazing as well, so it’s going to be tough this year for the judges. I wish them luck!” Michael Derouen also expressed how impressed he was with the competition. “There were so many amazing companies that showed why exactly San Antonio’s business ecosystem is on the rise. I had a great time doing this and I encourage anyone to try it because these opportunities aren’t every day.”
After their pitches and a round of questions, each contestant went home both hopeful and proud of everything they’d already accomplished. The judges then deliberated and distributed the funds LaunchSA allocates for this competition every year. If you want to hear their pitches, know who won the funding, and take part in awarding an Audience Favorite, join us at San Antonio Entrepreneurship Week at the Venture Challenge Awards Ceremony!