Town turns out for Rev Up Strasburg pitch night

Judges tally up their scores at Rev Up Strasburg's pitch night on Wednesday. From right are Mike Gochenour, Northern Virginia Daily publisher; Jay Winkfield, vice president of commercial lending for City National Bank; Floyd Heater, vice president of Valley Health's southern region ; Greg Hoover, senior vice president of retail ; Cindy Green, community economic development director for People Incorporated. Nathan Budryk/Daily

STRASBURG – Upward of 90 people attended Rev Up Strasburg’s pitch night this week.

Rev Up Strasburg, a weeks-long program that involves counsel of potential and existing small business owners who are looking to open or expand, will award $50,000 in cash and marketing packages to three winners to be announced on Wednesday.

Pitch night this past Wednesday consisted of each of the program’s nine remaining entrepreneurs making cases for why their businesses are worthy of the prize. The six-week-long program offered advice to roughly 30 entrants, with nine choosing to move forward to the competition portion of the program.

Leslie Currle, business development manager for People Incorporated, a nonprofit community action agency, explained the prize packages.

“The prize package is valued at $50,000, but (for) each participant, the maximum is $25,000 cash,” Currle said. “We also have chamber memberships, a website package and other locally sponsored marketing incentives.”

Judges consisting of local business people were present to evaluate the participants on such criteria as job creation and economic viability.

“I’m looking at ‘Does the business plan make sense?'” said Judge Greg Hoover, First Bank’s senior vice president of retail banking. “Is it viable through business life cycles … and obviously you want to see some creativity.”

Participants had five minutes to make their pitches and another five minutes to respond to questions from the panel of judges.

“I thought (the presentations) were well-rehearsed – you could tell there was a lot of planning going into the presentations,” Hoover said. “I thought everybody did a wonderful job. Obviously the classes helped out a lot. All of them had a lot of really good answers to our questions and the presentations were clear and concise.”

Among the businesses pitched were a catering company specializing in southern cooking and barbecue, a formal rental and resale boutique offering a wide array of plus-size options and a crossfit gym.

Other pitches included a company that aims to employ and spread awareness for people with autism, a training solutions company, a candle and décor business and a concierge service aimed at saving people time with daily tasks. Also making pitches were a local bakery and a business aimed at keeping local children on the right track.

“The goal for the program is to start or expand three new businesses,” Currle said. “We’ll actually be giving out three awards to either help a business expand or to start.”

Participants submitted business plans for their respective business, which are being evaluated by independent judges. The results from that judgment will be combined with the scores received at pitch night to determine a winner, Currle said.

Currle said the program has been a success so far, and will be an annual event moving forward.

“One thing we’ve already accomplished is a lot of interest and excitement in small business and entrepreneurship,” said Currle. “There’s been a lot of camaraderie with the participants and with the town and the community coming together… It’s pretty exciting. It should foster more small business, so it’s pretty cool.”

Hoover shared Currle’s excitement for the program’s effect on the town.

“I hope to see the downtown Strasburg area enhanced,” Hoover said. “(I hope) to have some of the buildings we have down there that are currently vacant host thriving business that will ultimately attract even more business to the downtown area of Strasburg.”

The awards presentation will take place at 6 p.m. Wednesday at 406 Borden Mowery Drive.

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com