Three ecstatic individuals took home winnings Monday from the fourth annual Show-Me Innovation Pitch Competition.
At the Callaway Chamber of Commerce & Visitor's Center, five entrants pitched their local business ideas to judges. Tamara Tateosian, executive director of the Callaway Chamber of Commerce, said seven originally signed up, but she and the judges were pleased with the audience turnout and the five pitches.
"(The Callaway Chamber of Commerce) loves to see these business ideas, and we love to see them flourish after the competition. That's really what we're most excited about," Tateosian said.
Fulton Oriental Store won first place as well as the audience choice award, a combined total of $3,250. Owners Hope and Larry Doyle said they will use the money toward expanding the store into a café and bakery.
"Oh my goodness, this feels unbelievable. It's unbelievable," Hope Doyle said. "I'm so thankful for everyone that came and helped out today."
Doyle said they plan on putting at least 16 seats and tables in the store. They plan to open up the other side of their building as the space for this "little restaurant."
"This is great. We're really excited and grateful," Larry Doyle said.
Serenity Valley Winery took home second-place honors with a total winnings of $1,500. Owner Regina Ruppert said the winery plans to build a bandstand in the front of the winery.
"It will be dual-purpose so we can also use it to host small events for 20-30 people and keep them out of the weather," Ruppert said. "(Winning second place) is awesome. It's just awesome. Every little bit helps when you're trying to accomplish a goal of this nature."
Shawna Soptick took third-place honors, earning $750. She pitched her concept to open a drive-thru coffee shop in Fulton which she calls "Rude Awakening."
"(Winning third place) feels great. It's super exciting," Soptick said.
Competitors also won "swag bags" with other goodies, including advertising packages.
The competition's four judges were: Jonathan Mack, Gary Wilbers, Dick Davis and Mary Rehklau. Mack, who's a project manager for the Missouri Department of Economic Development, enjoyed his first time judging Callaway's pitch competition.
"Judging here was great. (Hope Doyle) did a fantastic job. The other two were good, but she was very good. One of the keys of judging these competitions is just being on time. If they're not, well then, sorry. That's just how business works," Mack said.
Mack said he most appreciated the diverse pitches the judges heard Monday in terms of project sizes and costs. He said it's "good to see a variety of pitches" as it made the selection easier for the judges.