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Area Entrepreneurs Pitch Ideas in Hopes of Start-Up Funds

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Tom Tom Founders Festival Pitch Night Tom Tom Founders Festival Pitch Night
The crowd got to vote for its favorite business ideas The crowd got to vote for its favorite business ideas
Entrepreneurs got three minutes each to present Entrepreneurs got three minutes each to present
Satellite took home the top prize Satellite took home the top prize
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

Some local entrepreneurs are walking away with some big prizes after the Tom Tom Founders Festival Crowdfunded Pitch Night on Wednesday, April 11.

The grand prize winner will receive almost $1,000, and two others will receive mentorships.

This event is part of the seventh annual Tom Tom Founders Festival. The event at the Jefferson Theater gave each entrepreneur just three minutes to pitch his or her idea. After the presentations, audience members picked their favorite.

Satellite is an online summer program available to anyone over the age of 18 who wants to become an innovator. It takes people through a 12-week boot camp to learn development, marketing, and web design.

"They're actually learning by doing projects, so they learn the skills better and they are working on a project that they care about,” says Allison Garrett of Satellite.

Thanks to the Tom Tom Pitch Night, the group is walking away with the grand prize of $906.

People in the crowd bought tokens and then voted for their favorites out of 10 entrepreneurial groups. Satellite received the most tokens, and it will use the money to help fund its scholarship program.

"I think a lot of programs exist that do similar things to what Satellite does, but they cost like $5,000, $8,000, $10,000, and that's just not accessible to a lot of people,” says Yash Tekriwal, who founded Satellite. “So we want to make it more accessible for a lot more people."

Another entrepreneur that took home a prize Wednesday night was Bennett Reck. His company, called Ripe Gelato, will get a mentorship with the i.Lab at the University of Virginia. The gelato he creates is a nondairy, avocado-based treat.

“I think we all deserve to indulge in the foods we love, but getting that good stuff shouldn't mean not getting the 'good for you,’” says Reck.

The final winner was Whipped Cream LLC. This group will receive a spot in the Community Investment Collaborative entrepreneur workshop this fall. The husband-and-wife team created Sheamango, which is a line of skincare products to help people of all demographics.

“The nurse that washes her hands 100 times a day, she needs Sheamango,” says Cordell Fortune of Whipped Cream LLC. “So I was like, my wife has the idea, I have the vision, now you guys are going to make my dream come true."

Other entrepreneurs pitched ideas like an outdoor preschool, a used outdoor gear exchange, and a site to help high school athletes get recruited.

About 300 people attended Wednesday night’s event.

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