A big congratulations to Accion client Brewla Bars of New York for being selected as the Pitch Room winner at the Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream Pitch Competition in Boston last night. Sibling founders Daniel and Rebecca Dengrove were awarded a $10,000 business grant, business coaching and access to national retailer leaders.
On Monday night, six finalists from regional pitch room competitions across the country traveled to the Samuel Adams Boston Brewery to present their best sales pitch before a panel of business experts and retail buyers. At the event founder and brewer of Samuel Adams Jim Koch spoke about the difficulties he encountered when getting Samuel Adams off the ground, noting he was unable to obtain a business loan from a bank and didn’t know the nuts and bolts of running a business, despite having an MBA from Harvard. Early on Koch struggled with his sales pitch for Samuel Adams beer, which is why he’s helping budding food entrepreneurs perfect their pitch through this competition.
The judges provided feedback and advice to each participant before ultimately crowning Brewla Bars of New York as the national Pitch Room winner. In order to select a final winner, the judges evaluated each pitch for specific criteria including pitch quality, creativity, passion, and product viability.
Six finalists were selected from four regional Pitch Room competitions held across the country to participate:
- San Francisco winner Cole Meeker, Sea of Change Trading Company
- Denver winner Linda Torres-Winter, Lindita’s Salsa
- Boston winner Michael Fairbrother, Moonlight Meadery
- Boston runner-up Robin Cohen, Doves and Figs
- New York winners Daniel and Rebecca Dengrove, Brewla Bars
- New York runners-up Catherine Oddenino and Ruthie Vishlitzky, Luca & Bosco
Selected from hundreds of applicants across the country, all of the finalists were self-determined and passionate, and pitched unique and innovative products ranging from mead to seaweed snacks to all natural ice pops.
Winners Daniel and Rebecca Dengrove saw an opportunity to fuse the popular trends of frozen yogurt and fresh juices to create Brewla Bars, healthy popsicle-like snacks with unique tastes such as tea, root beer and coffee. As popularity and buyer interest grew, the Dengroves turned to the Brewing the American Dream program in 2012 for a $10,000 loan to finance expanded packaging to help grow their business. Today Brewla Bars can be found in stores throughout the country, and last summer Brewla released its limited edition Samuel Adams Hops Pops.
There was also a “People’s Choice” winner selected by the general public. Videos of the six finalists’ pitches were posted on the Samuel Adams Facebook page, and the small business owner with the most “likes” was named the “People’s Choice.” This year’s winner was Accion client and Brewing the American Dream loan recipient Luca and Bosco, which focuses on ice cream and desserts.
The Brewing the American Dream Program — in a partnership with Accion and Samuel Adams — helps to start, strengthen and grow small businesses in the food, beverage and hospitality industries and to-date has provided more than $2.6 million in loans to 297 small business owner. For more information about Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream program visit: http://btad.samueladams.com/