Five months and more than 3,300 submissions after Nationwide and BlueVine unveiled the “Pitch To Win” contest, offering small business owners the chance to submit their unique business proposals to win up to $100,000, the contest has come to a close. On Oct. 3, seven small business finalists traveled to Nationwide’s headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, to make their pitches in person to an executive panel of judges.
During a special awards ceremony hosted that evening by Nationwide Property & Casualty President and COO Mark Berven, BlueVine Founder and CEO Eyal Lifshitz, and Small Town Big Deal hosts Jann Carl and Rodney Miller, Nationwide and BlueVine announced that ActivArmor was selected as the first “Pitch To Win” contest winner, earning $100,000 to grow its business.
ActivArmor is the first commercially available, 3D-printed casting and splinting company in the U.S. marketplace. The company’s immobilization devices are hygienic, waterproof, breathable and custom designed to fit each patient while supporting their active lifestyle.
“It was an amazing and humbling experience to meet all of these entrepreneurs and learn how companies like Nationwide and BlueVine can help to further our mission,” said ActivArmor founder Diana Hall. “I’m going to use this money toward expansion and growth into five major metropolitan areas across the United States so we can make this product available to people all over the country.”
“Protecting and supporting small businesses is a top priority for Nationwide. We were honored to bring in seven of America’s best and brightest business owners to learn about their companies and how access to capital will bring their dreams to life,” said Berven. “ActivArmor has an incredibly unique product that will serve a significant need in the marketplace and we couldn’t be more excited to see how this contest will help to take the company to new heights.”
Funding was also awarded to the second and third place finishers. Buckle Me Baby Coats was named runner-up, taking home $20,000, and TITAN Mixer Bottle earned third place and $10,000.
Buckle Me Baby Coats, founded by Dahlia Rizk, produces cutting-edge, adorable children’s coats designed for safer, easier car seat use that make it easy for parents to adhere to NHTSA and American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines while keeping their children secure without removing coats.
“It’s been an honor to be involved in this competition and to learn from different experts at Nationwide about ways to grow my business and the different sources available to me,” said Dahlia Rizk, founder of Buckle Me Baby Coats. “The $20,000 will be used to fund inventory and develop a line of spring and summer solutions to extend our selling period.”
TITAN Mixer Bottle is a no-battery, no-shake mixer bottle that efficiently creates a smooth and consistent protein shake. Each bottle contains 8 oz. of on-the-go supplement storage, can hold 20 oz. of water and easily separates for cleaning.
“This was one of the best experiences we’ve had as a company. The entire process was seamless and it was an honor to learn about the other companies and the products they offer,” said Fred Bowman, co-founder of TITAN Mixer Bottle. “We’re excited to use the $10,000 to amplify our marketing and build up our inventory.”
“I was very impressed with the strength, tenacity and passion of the small business owners who participated in today’s pitch event with Nationwide,” said Eyal Lifshiz, CEO and co-founder of BlueVine. “Bluevine knows firsthand that capital is often a constraint for small businesses, and I can’t wait to see what ActivArmor, Buckle Me Baby Coats and TITAN Mixer Bottle are able to accomplish with these awards.”
Nationwide, recently named No. 1 in Customer Satisfaction for Small Commercial Insurance by J.D. Power,* and small business financing company BlueVine, launched the “Pitch To Win” contest during National Small Business Week in May. The awards are non-dilutive, meaning business owners will not be required to give any ownership of their company to the contest sponsors. After sifting through more than 3,300 small business pitches, the companies narrowed down the list to just seven finalists on Sept. 18.
Each finalist received an all-expenses-paid trip to Nationwide’s headquarters where they presented their unique business proposals in person to an executive panel of judges comprised of Kelley Earnhardt Miller, sister of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and co-owner of JR Motorsports; Eyal Lifshitz, founder and CEO of BlueVine; Jasmine Green, chief customer advocate at Nationwide; and Lisa Gobber, vice president of Small Commercial and Premium Audit at Nationwide.
Following the presentations, the pitches were judged according to specific criteria, including need in the marketplace, inspiration for starting the business and intentions for using the funding. While in Columbus, each finalist also had the chance to meet and consult with Nationwide subject matter experts across multiple business areas, including digital marketing, corporate finance and partnerships, public relations, human resources, supplier management and loss control.
To learn more about the “Pitch To Win” contest and finalists, visit www.pitchtowinbig.com. Small business owners can also access a variety of resources for protecting and growing their business with Nationwide’s Business Solutions Center.