Winner announced after first SPARK pitch competition

SPARK Jackson County is announcing the winners of the program’s first pitch competition, held last week.

Six contestants pitched their business ideas to a panel of judges, with a chance to win a share of $15,000 in funding.

Nadia Herrera was the top winner of the $10,000 prize. Her business idea “NH by Nadia Herrera” will offer dresses and services to help those planning Quinceañera celebrations.

Stephanie Strothmann won the second place prize of $5,000 for her “For Love of Beer and Dogs” dog treat business.

One of the judges, Eddie Murphy of SpaceGuard Products, also spontaneously decided to award Dr. Nathan Otte of Dr. Nate Optometrist $5,000 to support his ideas for eye screenings for elementary school students.

The SPARK Tank competition and awards are made possible by a Community Collaboration Fund grant from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. Spark Jackson County is an initiative of the Jackson County Chamber, funded last fall by the grants which were meant to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship with a focus on underrepresented founders and underserved markets.

Organizers also thanked the STARTedUp Foundation for its support of the program.

More than 100 people attended Thursday night’s event.