WHEELING - For the $5,000 winner of this year's Pitch Contest, the secret is in the sauce.
West Liberty University's Gary E. West College of Business and its Center for Entrepreneurship held the contest, the third of its kind, Wednesday at the Intellectual Capitol downtown.
This year's contest winner, Patrick Fisher, founded his company, Mason Dixon Barbecue Co., after enrolling in West Liberty's College of Business. This is his first time winning and second time participating in the contest. He plans to put the money toward production of his sauce - what he calls the original "Sweet with a Little Heat" - as well as purchasing equipment for catering services.
"It's very exciting. I just came in thinking that if I win, great. If I don't, great," Fisher said. "It's a great opportunity to network and get your idea out there."
Other local entrepreneurs who pitched their ideas at the event included Jeremy Larance, Karissa Duke, Tannon Mossor, Tyler McGary and Taylor Snare, Jonathan and Perry Napier, Chad Hill and Devin Harrison and Kevin Kalany. Recycling, gaming and hydroponic growing were among the topics pitched as business ideas.
"This is the best turnout we've had so far. It's grown every time. We'll do it again in September. All of the pitchers did an awesome job ... great ideas, great concepts," said Carrie White, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship.
The evening's events were open to the public. Each audience member was provided one vote during the pitch, and those were combined with those of a judging panel to determine a contest winner.
Judges for the event included Leslie P. DeFelice, chair of the WLU Foundation; Glenn F. Elliott Jr., an independent contractor attorney with Toriseva Law in Wheeling; Healy Baumgardner-Nardone, a leading strategic communications adviser, spokesperson and public affairs executive; and Christian E. Turak, a lead associate in the oil and gas litigation group with the law offices of Gold, Khourey and Turak.
Several successful businesses have come out of previous WLU pitch contests, including September winners Vishesh Maskey with Spatial Decision Support System and Tyler Jones with Fajita by the Foot.
Contest sponsors included West Liberty University's Gary E. West College of Business and Center for Entrepreneurship, the Regional Economic Development Partnership and Vision Shared, Huntington, W.Va.