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Arkansas Entrepreneurs Win Funding and Wow Crowds

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. June 23, 2022 – Arkansas small business owners tonight won a collective $17,000 at the 2022 Pitch ‘N Pint pitch competition, produced by The Venture Center and the Little Rock Regional Chamber. Sara Hurst of Bella’s Kitchen + Wellness, Lauren Anderson of Calm + Confidence Beekeeping, and Crystal Haner and Nicole Snow of Enova Cosmetics won cash prizes after delivering pitches for a panel of judges and an audience of excited supporters at Ron Robinson Theater in Little Rock. Verketia Long of XtremeClean Janitorial and Cleaning Services, Nichelle Terry of Pearle Grey Designs and Brian Martin of Rock City Range also took home cash prizes determined by audience vote. 

Pitch ‘N Pint is a collaboration between The Venture Center and the Little Rock Regional Chamber. Previous Pitch ‘N Pint events have inspired spur of the moment pitches from entrepreneurial audience members, so event producers added an additional category for this competition.

“Celebrating and supporting entrepreneurs is the heart of our mission at The Venture Center, and we’re grateful to the Little Rock Regional Chamber for their partnership to produce both Pitch ‘N Pint and the Spark! Small Business Accelerator,” said Wayne Miller, Executive Director of The Venture Center. “We are excited for and proud of the cohort of Spark! entrepreneurs who graduated at Pitch ‘N Pint tonight, and we can’t wait to see how the prize funding our Spark! graduates and community entrepreneurs won will help them grow.”

"Seeing the growth of this cohort of companies coupled with their focused confidence at Pitch 'N Pint is why we continue to partner with The Venture Center to provide this event and the Spark! Small Business Accelerator program," said Jay Chesshir, President and CEO of the Little Rock Regional Chamber. "Entrepreneurial growth is certainly a replicable process. Continuing to give early-stage entrepreneurs exposure to resources that can help further their journey will benefit them and Little Rock's economic future."

The graduating participants of the 2022 Spring Spark! Small Business Accelerator competed for top prizes as evaluated by a panel of judges from Apptegy, Arkansas Capital Corp, and last year’s Spark! program, while local community members pitched business ideas in hopes of winning the audience’s vote. 

Prizes ranged from $5,000 to $2,000 seed capital for the top three Spark! winners, and The Venture Center and its sponsors surprised the remaining Spark! contestants with $1,000 each. 

Community contestants took home prizes totaling $1,000, provided by Arkansas Capital Corp.

 Overall, Arkansas small businesses won $17,000 at the event.

List of Winning Contestants

Spark! Accelerator Category:

First Place – $5,000 Winner: Sara Hurst, Bella’s Kitchen + Wellness
Second Place – $3,000  Winner: Lauren Anderson, Calm + Confidence Beekeeping
Third Place – $2,000 Winner: Crystal Haner and Nicole Snow of Enova Cosmetics

Community Entrepreneurs Category:

First Place – $500 Winner: Verketia Long, XtremeClean Janitorial and Cleaning Services

Second Place – $300 Winner: Nichelle Terry, Pearle Grey Designs

Third Place – $200 Winner: Brian Martin, Rock City Range

Funding support for the competition was provided by The Venture Center and Little Rock Regional Chamber, sponsored by Simmons Bank, Entergy, Arkansas Money & Politics, Think Rubix, Frost PLLC, Wright Lindsey Jennings, Simmons Bank, Central Arkansas Library System, Apptegy, and Arkansas Capital Corp.

To learn more about the Pitch ‘N Pint event, visit www.venturecenter.co/pitchnpint.

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