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The UPS Store Small Business Blog
  • 10 August 2018
  • Jenny Robinson

Meet the 2018 Small Biz Salute Pitch Off contest winner!

The UPS Store, Inc. and Inc. magazine are excited to announce the winner of the national Small Biz Salute Pitch Off contest, Bryanne Leeming, founder and CEO of Unruly Studios. Leeming won a $25,000 prize and an editorial feature in an upcoming issue of Inc. magazine for her STEM-focused small business.

At the live Pitch Off contest and event on August 8, more than 200 local entrepreneurs, business leaders, family members and friends gathered at the beautiful Gem Theatre in downtown Detroit and watched as each finalist presented their business pitch and participated in a dynamic round of questions.

2018 Small Biz Salute - Networking

Leeming’s pitch wowed the all-star panel of judges, which included entrepreneur and Bravo TV host Tabatha Coffey, tech entrepreneur Josh Linkner, former NFL linebacker Dhani Jones, and Inc. Magazine executive editor Jon Fine. “Sharing my story with the audience in Detroit was incredible,” Leeming shared after the event. “I was honored to be chosen. We have worked hard building Unruly Studios for years now, and moments like these always show us we are moving in the right direction.”

The judges gave her high marks for her innovative small business, which blends physical exercise and STEM education with its programmable light-up buttons, which she has coined Unruly Splats, for kids.

“Knowing that I’m helping kids learn to code in a more active way and also in a way that is socially engaging fuels my passion for Unruly Splats,” she said. “Kids are incredibly creative and have no boundaries on their ideas, so the games they think of to code into Splats are always unique. It is inspiring to watch them problem-solve and work through challenges to build new experiences.”

Watch the video above to find out what it takes to win $25,000 in the Small Biz Salute Pitch Off competition.

Leeming says the prize money will help ship units to customers and develop hands-on curriculum for use with the product – both in the classroom and for after-school programs. With the product having both hardware and software, there is always a need for funding for development which allows her team to solve technical challenges and create a sustainable product.

The runners-up, Keitha Dendy of Home Made Luxe and Megan Eddings of Accel Lifestyle also impressed the judges with their passion for entrepreneurship and helping people through their products. Both from the greater Houston area, each received a $5,000 prize and a $250 The UPS Store gift card.

In addition to the competition, guests participated in an energetic networking reception and opportunities for prizes and giveaways. The event in Detroit culminated a nationwide contest that began in April, which initially received more than 2,000 individual business pitch submissions. Thousands more voted online to narrow a field of 10 semi-finalists to the top 3 finalists who competed at the live Pitch Off.

The UPS Store would like to extend congratulations to Leeming, Eddings and Dendy for their well-deserved recognition! They represent the best of the small business community.

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