March 25, 2023 Supporting Manhattan-area entrepreneurs, businesses, events

StartUp MHK Generates Momentum and Opportunity for Area Entrepreneurs

(Manhattan, KS, October 23rd, 2018)

On Saturday, October 20th, Peoples State Bank hosted StartUp MHK, a business pitch competition inspired by television’s Shark Tank. Now in its second year, StartUp MHK is designed to provide local entrepreneurs with an environment to share their business ideas and receive feedback from a panel of regional business leaders while getting the chance to earn capital for their ideas. The event, a collaboration between The Fellow, JNT Company and People’s State Bank, awards the top three contestants with a total of $20,000 in prizes.

Over 40 business owners and entrepreneurs delivered business pitches to the panel before three finalists were selected: Chelsea Werdel of Genie in a Bottle, a business strategy concept for salons, Andy Theimer’s Feed Otter, a marketing technology company that has developed an automated email content marketing solution, and Austin Chauncy and Melanie Wertzberger with AdviseMe, an academic advising platform. The three finalists then took turns presenting five-minute pitches to the packed room, followed by a brief question and answer discussion with the StartUp MHK business panel.

Derek Richards, StartUp MHK emcee and co-founder of The Fellow Coworking, said of the event, “StartUp MHK is here to help our private sector grow to be independent. It’s our job to be in charge of developing and encouraging entrepreneurial spirit here in Manhattan. I want the innovation in Manhattan to be highlighted, nurtured and respected.”

 Photo by JNT Company Photo by JNT Company

The competitive environment and community participation coupled with the live critique from regional business leaders makes StartUp MHK a one of a kind opportunity for local entrepreneurs in the early stages of implementing a business idea. Participants of the competition agreed the most beneficial part of the event was the combination of constructive feedback and the opportunity to build relationships in the unique sphere of entrepreneurship.

Last year’s winner, Chris Zachary, founder of Pivvot, a design and animation studio, participated this year as a panelist, and he said the connections he made during the last year were crucial for his success.

“I’ve been able to meet people who have been through this before and learn from others people’s mistakes and try not to make them.”

Austin Chauncey, founder of the winning business, AdviseMe, echoed gratitude for the critique he and his business partner, Melanie Wertzberger, received during the competition.

“The best part so far was feedback from the judges. They gave questions I’d never thought of before to better market or sell [our business].”

StartUp MHK panelists included Oscar Montenegro of Aspen Business Group, Tim Weddle of Keating and Associates, Brandi Miller, CEO of Kansas Cooperative Council, Tom Hintz of Varney and Associates, and Chris Zachary of Pivvot.

Peoples State Bank served as the primary event sponsor, with additional sponsors including, JNT Company, The Fellow, Next-Tech Wireless, Alliance Realty, Open 4 Business, Purple Wave, Flint Hills Auto, BHS Construction, Iron Clad Coworking, The Foundation, Blueville Nursery, Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom and Teknix Solutions.

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