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Congratulations to all our winning finalists from the Northwest Georgia, Ocoee and Chattanooga regions Idea Leap Grant Pitch Competitions.

Each of you brought the passion and charisma that we all love about supporting local small business. It was a pleasure to celebrate you this past week during National Small Business Week.

Here are the Top Five Finalists for each region's Idea Leap Grant Competition.

Chattanooga Ocoee Northwest Georgia

Creekside Flower Farm LLC (People’s Choice Winner)

Runner Up- $10,000

Ace Kayaking School (People’s Choice Winner)

Runner Up- $10,000

Cake Addicts (People’s Choice Winner)

First Place- $30,000

Divine Purity Aurapothecary, LLC

Runner Up- $10,000

Bakery on Main

Second Place- $15,000

Caffeine Addicts

Runner Up- $10,000

Humanitees Print & Design

Runner Up- $10,000

Burnside Insurance

Runner Up- $10,000

Dalton Brewing Company

Runner Up- $10,000

Renew Exterior Services

Second Place- $15,000

Ocoee Riverside Farm

First Place- $30,000

Dyer Livestock Beef, LLC

Runner Up- $10,000

Southern Soul Yoga

First Place- $30,000

Treehouse Mountain

Runner Up- $10,000

Insane Paintball, LLC

Second Place- $15,000

Navigating TVFCU's 7th Annual Ideally Grant Application: Proven Tips 

For entrepreneurs seeking success in TVFCU's 7th Annual Ideally Grant Application, strategic preparation is key. This post distills essential insights to guide you through the application process effectively.

Preparing for the Application:

Given the application's non-save feature, it's crucial to adopt a strategic approach. Open a Word document, review the questions on TVFCU's website, and carefully craft your responses. This method ensures a polished submission when you transfer your answers into the application.

Key Application Focus Areas:

Two crucial elements demand attention in your application. Firstly, share your compelling entrepreneurial story. Illuminate what inspired you to embark on this journey. Additionally, emphasize your community engagement, showcasing your business's contributions or your personal efforts to give back.

Preparing for the Quarter Finalist Selection:

Anticipating success, prepare for the quarter finalist selection by focusing on two critical aspects:

  1. Financial Statements: Ensure you have your latest income statement for 2023 or your most recent tax return, providing insight into your business's financial health.

  2. Video Submission: Quarter finalists are required to submit a five-minute video. Emphasize creativity and informativeness in crafting this video. While it need not be a high-budget production, it should effectively convey your business's essence and impact.

The History and Impact of Idea Leap

Idea Leap Loan

TVFCU started the Idea Leap Loan program in 2016 to fill a void in the community for capital for start-up and early-stage businesses. With Idea Leap loans between $2,500 and $75,000 (originally $50,000), TVFCU has connected nearly 200 unique businesses with funding while many other financial institutions would not engage with loans considered too small or too risky. With referrals and assistance from collaborators such as BrightBridge, CO.LAB, LAUNCH Chattanooga, Score, the TSBDC in Cleveland and Chattanooga, the UGA SBDC, the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga and UTC's Veteran Entrepreneurship Program, the vast majority of Idea Leap Loan recipients have started and expanded successful local businesses. Brianne Hager, owner of B's Sweets, received the first Idea Leap Loan, and she still owns and operates her bakery eight years later.

TVFCU has originated over $5 million in Idea Leap Loans.

Idea Leap Grant

In 2018, after two very successful years of Idea Leap Loans, TVFCU started the Idea Leap Grant to reinvest proceeds from the loan program back into the local small business ecosystem. In the first Idea Leap Grant, the credit union awarded $52,500 in grants, with the Chattanooga School of Language winning the top prize of $20,000. In 2022, to celebrate the 5th Anniversary of the grant program, TVFCU awarded a $50,000 grant to Be Caffeinated - the largest Idea Leap Grant to-date. In 2023, TVFCU expanded the program once again by hosting seperate Idea Leap Grant competitions in the Chattanooga, Ocoee and Northwest Georgia regions. Next, in 2024, the credit union will award $75,000 in grants in each of the three areas.

44 unique businesses have received Idea Leap Grants. Through grants and scholarships, the program has invested $485,500 in the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. In 2024, TVFCU will award an additional $225,000 in grants.

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