2015 Business Planning Competition Winners
Awards were announced in the 2015 Windham Regional Business Planning Competition, on June 24, 2015 at the Robert H. Gibson River Garden in Brattleboro. The competition was a collaboration of Strolling of the Heifers and the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation. A total of $64,000 in prize funds were given out: $10,000 to each of four first-place category winners, $3,000 each to the four second-place category winners, and $1,000 each to the 12 runners-up. Funding for the competitition came from a grant from the Windham County Economic Development program (the “Vermont Yankee settlement” fund), the Vermont Community Foundation and the Windham Foundation.
Here are the winners and runners-up, listed by category:
Farm-Food Division — New Businesses
Riversong Farm, South Newfane
Owners: Juliette Carr, Henry Carr
A new, small, diversified farmstead in Newfane, offering pastured heritage pork, fine charcuterie and breeding stock. Sustainability, land conservation and community education are central to their vision.
West B Social, West Brattleboro
Owners: Jennifer Betit-Engel, Christian Engel
West B Social aims to bring more life into West Brattleboro by opening a coffee and craft beer haven. They will offer coffees from around the world, sandwiches and baked goods, hot pretzels, craft beer for carry out and 33 beers on tap for growler fills, good vibes served daily.
VT Dinners, L3C, Guilford
Owners: Nathaniel Brooks, Hans Estrin
VT Dinners makes chef-prepared meals made with healthy local ingredients, which are sold frozen, ready to be thawed out and quickly and conveniently reheated. Their goals are: Local food year round. Restaurant quality at supermarket prices. The convenience of online ordering and a home delivery option. Good food with less work.
Livewater Dairy, Putney
Owner: Taylor Acquaviva
Livewater Dairy will be a farmstead dairy processing venture on Taylor Acquaviva’s family’s dairy farm, Livewater Farm in Westminster-West. They are starting by producing primarily grass fed butter and fresh mozzarella along with value added variations of these products to be sold at local farmers markets, coops and an on site farmstand.
Tavernier Chocolates, Brattleboro
Owners: Dar Tavernier-Singer, John Singer
Tavernier Chocolates is a new small batch, handcrafted chocolate company with an emphasis on fresh seasonal, local ingredients, and the finest single origin Hawaiian, Central & South American sourced chocolate, with a strong focus on the three P’s (people, planet & profit).
Farm-Food Division — Existing Businesses
The Bunker Farm, Dummerston
Owners: Noah Hoskins, Helen O’Donnell, Jen O’Donnell and Mike Euphrat
The Bunker Farm is a diversified family-run farm in Dummerston, producing and selling pasture-raised poultry, beef, lamb and pork directly to restaurants, and to families and individuals through a 12-month CSA. They also produce and sell maple syrup, winter greens, strawberries, asparagus, and heirloom and beefsteak tomatoes, they operate a plant nursery and offer educational opportunities to local schools and community groups.
OWL Food, LLC, Brattleboro
Owner: Allison Wright
OWL Food produces gluten-free, dairy free, non GMO energy bars handcrafted in Brattleboro.
True North Granola, LLC, Brattleboro
Owners: Ingrid Chrisco, Franklin Chrisco
True North Granola is a specialty food business that is creating granola, trail mixes, muesli and granola chocolate chip cookie mix, and is working to build a broader regional presence.
Finallie Ferments, West Townshend
Owners: Brittany Frost, Allison Dercoli
A craft food business specializing in the production of small batch kim-chi, organized as a worker-owned and operated co-op.
New Forest, LLC, Brattleboro
Owner: Ian Diamondstone
New Forest works with small farmer/producer groups to bring certified organic ingredients to the international market. They aim to include social justice in their bottom line and are working to develop two new products.
General Business Division — New Businesses
Wheel Pad, Wilmington
Owners: Julie Lineberger, Joseph Cincotta, Riley Poor
A Wheel Pad is an eco-friendly, free-standing bedroom and bathroom structure for newly wheelchair-bound people that can attach to an existing home. The company’s goal is to provide a universally accessible sleeping and bath area at a low cost. The space includes a sleeping area, sitting area, and bathroom. Wheel Pad is a temporary movable space, like a camper or RV, thus no need for permitting in most areas. Pre-built, Wheel Pad is delivered then attached to an existing home on site.
Owner: Robert Fawley
SnapGap uses a patent-pending method and system for valve adjustment clearance in certain internal combustion engines, and is developing an internet-driven marketing plan to sell the system to individual users.
Owners: James Gelter, Jessica Gelter
VTcast will be a recording studio, website developer, and ad sales rep for podcasts. VTcast will be a small studio designed for producing Vermont-centric podcasts to help sell the Vermont brand to a national audience. They will offer training on both the technical and artistic aspects of podcasting. Best of all, VTcast will work to find sponsors and advertisers to financially support you podcast.
Homebody Guitars, Putney
Owners: Richard Struthers, Rory Struthers
Homebody Guitars is a father-and-son team developing a line of electric guitars combining historic, iconic guitar body shapes with unique design characteristics, utilizing home construction building scrap wood for materials.
Gail Friday, Wilmington
Owner: Gail Makuch
Gail Friday provides business support services assisting entrepreneurs, mission-driven businesses and organizations with tools and information to grow and succeed. Expertise includes data management and visualization, surveys and evaluations, proofreading and other business support services, timeline coaching and creative solutions.
General Business Division — Existing Businesses
Good Body Products, Guilford
Owners: Chris Thomas, Trish Thomas
Good Body Products crafts therapeutic body care products in small batches using 100 percent organic and locally-sourced ingredients whenever possible. They are striving to achieve a true “farm-to-jar” business model, cultivating and processing their own botanicals for use in their healing products.
Vintage Steele, LLC, Brattleboro
Owners: Josh Steele, Chris John
Vintage Steele takes vintage motorcycles and resurrects them. They do this to make affordable transportation, which keeps metal out of landfills, and uses less fossil fuel than automobiles. Vintage Steele also repairs and maintains all forms of motorized bikes and rebuilds motorcycles into customized machines, a huge part of the contemporary motorcycle culture.
Artisan Web and Print, Brattleboro
Owners: Dawn Russell, Natalie Pelham
Artisan Web and Print is a web and graphic design studio working with businesses, individuals, and organizations that promote sustainability through environmental stewardship and social justice. Their work for clients includes developing brand identity, graphic design solutions, innovative and user-friendly mobile friendly websites, search engine optimization, site management training, maintenance and hosting.
Dynamic Organics, Putney
Owners: Greg DiCerbo, Andy Klaski, Morgan Casella
Dynamic Organics plans to demonstrate the feasibility of small-scale, mobile Anaerobic Digestion systems, which turn organic waste into renewable energy and revenue, and to become an industry leader in AD systems for commercial food and beverage operations, apartment buildings, hotels, and municipalities.
SO Vermont Arts & Living Magazine, Dummerston
Owner: Lynn Barrett
Southern Vermont Arts & Living is a quarterly magazine chronicling the innovative culture and sophisticated country lifestyle of Southern Vermont. It is the only glossy, full-color publication in the region—which includes towns along New York and New Hampshire’s southern border— covering the most engaging current work in the art world and the creative lifestyle that accompanies it.