FoodStart Ohio will host the first annual Big Pitch at Franklin University Saturday, June 21 and Saturday, June 28. The two-day event gives local food-based entrepreneurs a chance to highlight their delectables while competing for valuable cash and mentoring prizes.
On June 21, entrepreneurs from local restaurants, mobile food vendors and other food businesses will provide tastings to an expected 200 plus attendees.
“It’s a chance to see the power of exposing your brand and your food,” Event Organizer Bob Leighty says.
Attendees will vote on their favorites in each category with the top three in each group invited back on Saturday, June 28. The following week, the nine finalists will cook for a panel of judges and make their big pitch. The winner in each category will receive $1,000 plus a year of free mentoring, the runner-up, $500 plus six months of free mentoring, and third place, six months of free mentoring.
The Big Pitch is still looking for entrepreneurs, aiming to have about 10 to 15 participants in each category. Leighty encourages businesses to sign up as soon as possible. Each entrepreneur will be required to submit an application along with a $25 entry fee. If selected, participants are expected to provide tastings for approximately 200 guests on June 21, and provide materials outlining their overall business concept and marketing plan.
The event is open to businesses that are just getting started to those that are more established. Leighty points out this would be a great opportunity for an established business to test a new product line.
Leighty wants to highlight the rapidly growing food scene in Columbus. “There’s an explosion of local food going on,” he says. “It’s a chance to show that Columbus really has a growing and vibrant local food movement.”
Through the event he hopes to help businesses not only gain access to market, but also connect with mentors.”To me that’s one of the biggest challenges to entrepreneurs,” Leighty says.
The Big Pitch wants to give winners mentoring help where they need it most. “For mentoring, we will match two or three mentors with each entrepreneur,” Leighty says. “I am looking to match mentors with entrepreneurs according to their needs. We have packaging experts, marketing experts, restaurant experts, mobile experts [and] business plan experts.” Leighty has gathered an impressive group of judges and mentors steeped in the local food scene.
Attendees should purchase tickets as soon as possible. Admission is $20 for Saturday, June 21 or $30 for both days.
For more information, visit foodstartohio.org.