SBDC-USDA Entrepreneurship Bootcamp culminates in pitch competition and celebration

Cohort members from Daleville, Phenix City and Troy celebrated the completion of Entrepreneurship Bootcamp with a pitch competition.

Cohort members from Daleville, Phenix City and Troy celebrated the completion of Entrepreneurship Bootcamp with a pitch competition.

A pitch competition capped off an event that celebrated entrepreneurs taking part in the USDA Entrepreneurship Bootcamp on Saturday. Held at the IDEA Bank, the event featured Troy University’s own Dr. Duane Gunn as a keynote speaker.  

The Small Business Development Center at TROY held classes for those interested in learning more about entrepreneurship, basing the program off of Notre Dame University’s model. Saturday, the program’s participants – along with their families – came together to celebrate their achievements.

“We as entrepreneurs don’t do a great job in celebrating our wins along the way,” said Katherine Zobre, facilitator of the program. “There’s always another project to do or customer to win.

“Having intentional spaces like this graduation is a reminder to these folks and their families that there is progress worth celebrating.”

Throughout the program, which ran in Phenix City, Daleville and Troy, participants got a crash course in business. 

“The goal was to provide entrepreneurs with fundamental skills,” Zobre said. “We want to progress their businesses from reactive to proactive, and help them learn planning, operations and financial controls.”

Participants ranged from high school students to doctorate degree holders, but there was something for everyone in the program.

“I have a doctorate, but I learned so much more in this course than I was taught in seven years,” said Gilbert Liddell, who owns Capital Consulting Business Group. “I learned a lot about checks and balances on the books.”

The event included a pitch competition, where seven participants pitched their business ideas to a panel including Natalie Bryant and Preston Pritchett of the Sorrell College of Business. Everyone who pitched got five hours of consulting, and cash prizes were awarded to the top three pitches.

Denver Duran took top honors in the competition. Duran and his wife attended the Daleville section and own a web design and online presence agency.

Nick Ledoux was the second-place winner with his wife Betsy. The Ledouxs and their three children, who attended the Phenix City Bootcamp’s childcare, made each session a “family date.” They’re working on launching a gutter-cleaning subscription service. Without childcare, Ledoux said they would not have been able to attend.

Shawna Lewis, from Dothan, was a member of the Daleville cohort and took third place with her custom jewelry business. Lewis said the Bootcamp provided her with the tools she needed to boost her vision and introduced her to a new network of people. Above all, she said being treated as an entrepreneur was an outstanding experience.