2019 Idea Leap Finalists Announcement                                                                                                     Skip to content
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2019 Idea Leap Finalists Announcement


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (Sept. 9, 2019) — The list of small businesses competing for Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union’s Idea Leap Grant is narrowing. The Idea Leap Grant selection committee has selected the top ten businesses to participate in TVFCU’s Pitch Night on Tuesday, Oct. 22.

“We are honored to once again host the Idea Leap Grant Initiative,” said Tommy Nix, vice president of business and commercial services at TVFCU. “This program started as a way to reinvest Idea Leap Loan proceeds back into the community. It is a grant — an award from the credit union to five area small businesses to help fulfill their next dream whether that is providing a new service or expanding their brick and mortar storefront.”

The community is invited to hear the ten finalists compete during TVFCU’s Pitch Night on Tuesday, Oct. 22, at 6 p.m. at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center, located at 200 E. Martin Luther King Blvd in Chattanooga. The event takes place during Startup Week Chattanooga, a weeklong celebration of Chattanooga’s entrepreneurial community. 

At the event, each finalist will have four minutes to pitch their business and what they would do with the grant funds in front of the Idea Leap Grant selection committee comprised of independent business leaders from across the area and Startup Week audience members. A brief Q&A session with judges will follow each presentation. Once all the presentations are complete, the judges will deliberate and assess the finalists according to a set of five assessment criteria. During that time, audience members will have an opportunity to network with other attendees. The evening will conclude with the announcement of the five grant recipients. First place is $20,000, second place is $15,000, third place is $10,000, and fourth and fifth places are $2,500 each.  

Come early for light refreshments and networking at the Pre-Pitch Reception Hosted by Co.Lab from 5 to 6 p.m. for. The pitches will begin at 6 p.m. in the Bessie Smith Performance Hall.

The grant initiative is an extension of TVFCU’s Idea Leap Loan Initiative that was created in October 2016. The Idea Leap Loan fills a void in the community for loans up to $50,000 to emerging businesses. Through the Idea Leap Grant Initiative, TVFCU is reinvesting Idea Leap Loan proceeds back into the community.

2019 Idea Leap Grant Finalists

Chatta Cakes Bakery

Shannon Anderson

Hixson, Tenn.

Real Roots Cafe

Matthew Lake

Fort Oglethorpe, Ga.

Elea Blake Cosmetic Studio

Darin Wright

Chattanooga, Tenn.

The Rustic House

Emily Warr

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Hank’s Corner Grille

Doug Hankins

Tracy City, Tenn.

Treetop Hideaways

Enoch Elwell

Flintstone, Ga.

Hutton and Smith Brewing Company

Melanie Krautstrunk

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Spectacles Family EyeCare

Karen LeBlanc

South Pittsburg, Tenn.

Live and Let Live Barber Shop

Virgil McGee Sr.

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Terra Running Company

Brittany Durkin

Cleveland, Tenn.

 Please help us in congratulating these small businesses!



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