ArtWorks Big Pitch, Presented by U.S. Bank, Awards $20,000 to Creative Entrepreneurs
Chris Sutton of Noble Denim takes $15,000 Grand Prize;
Django Kroner of Canopy Crew wins $5,000 Audience Choice Award.
Cincinnati—–Last night the eight finalists of ArtWorks Big Pitch, presented by U.S. Bank, stood before a packed house at the American Sign Museum and took their best shot at winning more than $20,000 in cash and professional services. Each finalist had worked with a local business mentor and a U.S. Bank small business banking specialist to perfect their pitch. Each contestant was evaluated based on their five-minute pitch and their business plan by a panel of prominent local professionals.
At the end of the night, it was Chris Sutton of Noble Denim who took home the $15,000 grand prize. Sutton, who designs locally-sourced, American-made jeans, plans to use this business grant to expand his production to meet increasing demand for Noble Denim products in the U.S. and abroad. He made a compelling pitch based on his commitment to manufacture high-quality jeans at a Midwestern factory that pays its workers a living wage. He went on to describe how this funding would enable him to fulfill new orders that will expand his distribution to Europe and Asia.
When asked about his experience as a finalist, Sutton was gracious and humble. “I can’t speak highly enough of the partnership with our U.S. Bank small business specialist, Vance Marshall. I am grateful to him for all of his help and support leading up tonight. He honed the financial side of things, helping us make our business plan more robust.”
Sutton went on to thank ArtWorks for their ongoing effort to support local small businesses and creative entrepreneurship. “This experience overall helped us to really think about who we are, what we do, and how we do it. It enabled us to take the time to refine and package our story. And, the camaraderie between the competitors was incredible. Everyone was so warm and supportive of one another. It was a really special experience.”
The first runner-up was Matt Madison of Madisono’s Gelato and Sorbet, which produces handcrafted gelatos and sorbets for regional restaurants and retailers. The second runner-up was Brian Stuparyk of Steam Whistle Press Letterpress and Design, is a full-service design and print shop located in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. Both runners-up will receive in-kind professional services totaling $3,500 in value from sponsors Clark Schaefer Hackett, Dinsmore & Shohl, and LPK.
More than 400 attendees in the audience cast their vote for their favorite local business based upon their business pitch. Django Kroner of The Canopy Crew won the $5,000 Audience Choice Award and plans to use this funding to help construct tree house rentals in Red River Gorge for visitors to the area.
“All eight finalists were impressive; really, they were all winners! The creativity and determination of our local entrepreneurial businesses is inspiring, and this fuels ArtWorks’ commitment to continue to provide education and mentorships, and to further advance opportunities to connect entrepreneurs to capital. We cannot thank U.S. Bank enough for this partnership,” says Tamara Harkavy, ArtWorks CEO and Artistic Director. “I am so excited to see where each of the finalists will be in a year as a result of all the coaching, mentorship and support they gained through this process.”
“The U.S. Bank Small Business Banking Team has enjoyed working with the eight Big Pitch finalists as they have gone through this exciting journey, fine-tuning their business plans and preparing for the next stage of their business growth,” says U.S. Bank Small Business Banking Sales Manager Bill Brosenne. “ArtWorks Big Pitch provided the eight finalists the opportunity to showcase their business knowledge and talents to the Greater Cincinnati community. These individuals are all winners, and we wish them continued success as creative entrepreneurs.”
About ArtWorks: Founded in 1996, ArtWorks trains and employs local youth and talent to create art and community impact. ArtWorks’ vision is to be the creative and economic engine which unites citizens to transform our region through public art, such as their award-winning mural program, art therapy, and creative enterprise initiatives. To date, ArtWorks has hired over 2,500 area youth and 700 professional artists, and has trained over 200 creative entrepreneurs. ArtWorks is grateful for the support of many individuals and organizations, including the City of Cincinnati, the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation, the generosity of community contributions to the ArtsWave Campaign, and the Ohio Arts Council. To learn more or to support ArtWorks, visit ArtWorksCincinnati.org.
About U.S. Bank: U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB), with $389 billion in assets as of June 30, 2014, is the parent company of U.S. Bank National Association, the 5th largest commercial bank in the United States. The Company operates 3,174 banking offices in 25 states and 5,005 ATMs and provides a comprehensive line of banking, brokerage, insurance, investment, mortgage, trust and payment services products to consumers, businesses and institutions. Visit U.S. Bancorp on the web at usbank.com.