TVFCU hosts 5th Annual Idea Leap Grant Pitch Competition
Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union hosted their annual grant annual competition Tuesday. This is the 5th year for the competition where small business owners from across the area compete to win grant funding.
This year TVFCU gave away a total of $100,000. The grand prize was $50,000, first place was $20,000 and three runners-up won $10,000.
TVFCU also held their inaugural Idea Leap Luncheon which featured successful local small business owners discussing their experiences. Melanie Krautstrunk, the owner of local brewery Hutton & Smith, was a member of the panel Tuesday afternoon. She won a $25,000 grant from the competition in 2019.
“So we our business was actually launched with the SBA, which is a great tool for launching a business when you need the money, but it’s not really the best loan to grow a business. That’s where Tennessee Valley has come in,” said Krautstrunk. “It’s really been great for us. We’ve transferred our SBA loans all over to Tennessee Valley. We were recipients of the Idea Leap Grant. We received $25,000 that we use to invest in a yeast propagation tank so that we can start growing our own yeast instead of buying it. They’ve helped us to expand and grow.”
Michael Rice is owner of the local coffee business, Mad Priest Coffee Roasters. He won an Idea Leap Grant in 2016.
“I mean, Tennessee Valley Credit Union has been with us since day one. We were the second recipient of the idea leap loan program. So pretty much since then, we’ve just been together. We really feel like this program, especially the grant program is a really powerful tool for Chattanooga,” said Rice. “I just I feel like it’s another resource that Chattanooga has for small businesses that I don’t necessarily see everywhere else. So it’s pretty cool to see them have a loan program that then takes the excess and reinvests as a grant program, especially for startups and people with good ideas. As a recipient we’ve seen the direct impact, but then also, we’ve seen lots of other businesses that were connected to or worked with, be impacted. So it’s definitely something that we see working and it’s growing.”
The five Idea Leap finalists are:
- Be Caffeinated – a small chain of drive-through coffee shops
- Mountain View Low Vision Services – a provider of products, services for visually impaired people
- Neutral Ground Chattanooga – a New Orleans-style restaurant
- NewTerra Compost – a composting and waste management company
- Sleepyhead Coffee – a coffee shop with vegan pastries options