Two women-owned startups have won the top prize in the first ever tie recorded by the annual Gauntlet Business program and competition.
Rudy Media’s daughtera Roanoke-based Uptown Martinsville-based film and media operation 3D electric iriswhich uses 3D printing to create innovations for modern farms, both won prizes worth approximately $29,800 in grants and in-kind services.
The results came at the end of a 10-week process in which 66 entrepreneurial companies received training and mentorship while competing for a share of a prize pool totaling over $400,000. The awards included grants, cash and in-kind support such as use of facilities, legal advice, marketing support and ongoing advice on small business development.
This is the eighth year that the Gauntlet, an initiative of The Foundation for Advancement in Vinton, brought together entrepreneurs from a vast region that included the Roanoke Valley, Shenandoah Valley and Southside.
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The Gauntlet is the largest business development program and competition in Virginia, organizers said. Its mission is to inspire innovation and foster the creation of a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Rudy’s Girl Media is led by CEO Natalie Hodge. Electric Iris 3D was created by Natalie Ashton.
The other top Gauntlet 2022 finishers were Renewal Brewing, Children First Pediatrics of Virginia, PC, Kenkashi Microbes, Fables and Feathers Winery, BOCS Build Off-site Container Structures, Space Rabbit Coffee Co., CyberCade, Caffe Museo, EarthMagic Recycling LLC, Bite Me Confections, Backspace Coffee, The BeeVe Soda and Souvenirs, Made in Martinsville, Customiz3design LLC, Books and Crannies, Scenic Ridge Farms and Oya-Construction.
The awards were presented on May 25 at a ceremony held at Vinton War Memorial. This year’s class of participants is collectively expected to create 263 new full-time jobs over the next 24 months and produce $3.3 million in profits over the next 18 months.