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The UPS Store Small Business Blog - Prepping for the Pitch
  • 26 April 2018
  • Jenny Robinson

Small Biz Salute Pitch Off Contest - Update from 2017 Winners

For this year’s Small Biz Salute Pitch Off, The UPS Store has teamed up with Inc. Magazine to invite entrepreneurs and small business owners from across the country to share what makes their business unique and how they would use the prize money. The winner will receive $25,000 and an editorial feature in Inc. Magazine.

As the 2018 competition heats up, we checked in on the winners of last year’s Small Biz Salute:

Michael Rosander, Co-Owner of Discover Magic, LLC, and 2017 The UPS Store National Pitch Off competition winner
2017 Small Biz Salute National Contest Winner - Discover Magic
2017 Small Biz Salute National Contest Winner: Michael Rosander of Discover Magic

Discover Magic, LLC. creates magic classes for children around the country to instill character, confidence and communication skills.

How did you use the prize money from The UPS Store Pitch Off contest?
The timing on the prize money couldn’t have been more perfect. We had recently set a goal to make magic classes available to kids that could not afford it, so we used the full amount from the contest and considered it our first donation in getting Discover Magic to 300 kids for free across the US. With the help of sponsors and grants, we can take our classes to organizations like the Boys and Girls Club whose kids can really benefit from what our program has to offer.

Any news to share about your business? 
This year we finished launching the first half of our Discover Magic curriculum, which is geared to helping empower kids building their character, confidence and communication skills through teaching the art of magic.

What motivates you to keep running your business?
The growing concerns of technology and the effects it will have on kids. More than ever we need ways to get them to look up, interact with others and experience the world around them.

What is your best piece of advice for small business owners entering the Pitch Off contest this year?
Be authentic. Let your personality and passion for your product shine through. Watch Michael’s 2017 pitch.


Lindsey Powers, Founder of ChairGLO, Inc. and 2017 local Denver Pitch Off competition winner

ChairGLO creates products to meet the safety and socialization needs of wheelchair users.

2017 Small Biz Salute Denver Winner - Lindsey Powers of ChairGLO
2017 Small Biz Salute Denver Pitch Off Winner: Lindsey Powers of ChairGLO

How did you use the prize money from The UPS Store Pitch Off contest?
As promised in the pitch I gave last year, we used the prize money to design a new Wheelchair LED Lighting System that is more affordable, durable, and brighter for the average wheelchair user who is in need of the safety and sociability ChairGLO systems provide. Thanks to The UPS Store, we were able to reduce the retail price for a ChairGLO Wheelchair LED Lighting System from $250 to $150!

What is next for your business?
The next step for ChairGLO is to market the new design and raise awareness about the dangers wheelchair users face while traveling at night.

What motivates you to keep running your business?
I'm motivated by my customers. When I hear their stories of being hit by vehicles while crossing the street at night or of not wanting to go out at night alone, I am motivated to keep working to find better solutions to help them feel safer and more social at night.

What is your best piece of advice for small business owners entering the contest this year?
The best advice I could give to someone entering this year's contest would be to tell a story from your heart. I discussed how the money would be used, but it was the passion in my voice and the short story I included in the pitch that helped convince the judges why I should be a finalist.


Theodore “Priest” Hughes, Co-Owner of Rollin’ Grocer and 2017 local Kansas City Pitch Off competition Winner

Rollin’ Grocer is a mobile grocery store serving affordable, fresh food to “food deserts” in the greater Kansas City area.

2017 Small Biz Salute Denver Winner - Lindsey Powers of ChairGLO
2017 Small Biz Salute Kansas City Pitch Off Winner: Theodore "Priest" Hughes of Rollin' Grocer

How did you use the prize money from The UPS Store Pitch Off contest? The most exciting thing we did with the prize money was purchase more than twenty semi-permanent all-weather signs to be placed at each of our stops so that customers would know exactly when we would return. That way, even when Rollin’ Grocer was not there at a certain time, a permanent reminder was always present, which was very relevant to our business model of being a mobile market. In addition to the money, we also received 5,000 free copies from The UPS store in our town and it allowed us to boost our marketing. We saw a definite increase in customers and visitors to the truck, helping to save our bottom line.

What is next for your business?
Our next focus is on sustainability, partnership and refining who our key customer is.

What motivates you to keep running your business?
What keeps us motivated is addressing the problem of food insecurity in Kansas City.

What is your best piece of advice for small business owners just getting started?
The best advice we would give small business owners is defining who their customer is before opening their doors. Also, be prepared to change courses depending on need making your business plan more of a guide than something that is set in stone.

Do you have an idea to grow your current business? Be sure to enter the Small Biz Salute Pitch Off by submitting your story (via essay, video or both) here by May 4.

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