05 April 2016
Two Palmyra entrepreneurs are taking their businesses to the Tom Tom Founders Festival in Charlottesville next Wednesday night (April 13) to see if they can win over a crowd, grab a prize, and launch their business into an exciting new opportunity.
Becky Blanton and David Durovy are among 10 finalists selected from about 50 applicants to compete in the festival’s crowdfunding night held from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Paramount Theater.
Each of the 10 finalists has three minutes to pitch their business to an audience of hundreds in the hopes of inspiring the crowd to vote for them. Crowd members can buy up to 10 votes at $10 apiece to cast for their favorite candidate, said Shannon Beach, program coordinator for the Community Investment Collaborative (CIC), a group that facilitates networking, education, and microloans to the small business community.
One lucky winner will take home either the cash prize generated by the voting or a coveted spot in the I.Lab at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, which includes a $5,000 expense budget and access to professors, guidance, expertise, computers, and resources. Blanton described the I.Lab as “an entrepreneurial incubator, designed to help entrepreneurs get their business up and running pretty fast.”
One runner-up will receive a free spot in the CIC’s next Entrepreneur Workshop, a 16-week intensive class that trains its students in how to run a successful business. Blanton and Durovy are both graduates of CIC.
Blanton will pitch to the crowd her business, a magazine called the Virginia Entrepreneur
, which features local and Virginia small businesses. “I want to focus on the kind of people who will start a business but are too small to be extensively covered in local media,” she said. “I highlight them and talk about their story, successes, and failures. It’s a real deal about what it’s like to start their particular kind of business and how they’ve learned from failure.”