Local entrepreneurs compete for chance to make business dreams come true

Renton Downtown Partnership recently hosted a business pitch competition to win grant money.

Nearly 20 different Renton-area entrepreneurs gave their business pitches to a crowded Renton Civic Theater on the evening of April 18 for the chance to win up to $5,000 to help make their dreams a reality.

The Business Pitch Competition was hosted by the Renton Downtown Partnership, and sponsored by Vault89 and Lane Powell, and the grants were funded by the City of Renton and the Port of Seattle.

Leading up to the event, entrepreneurs participated in business plan workshops and planning seminars before a selection of finalists were given the chance to compete for one of several grants to help them achieve their envisioned success.

The business pitches all came from entrepreneurs who either operate a business in the Renton area or had plans to open in the Renton area, with several participants looking to open brick-and-mortar locations in Renton’s downtown neighborhood.

The judges who selected the winners of the categories: “Start-Up/Idea,” “Early,” and “Established,” were economic development manager for the Port of Seattle, Annie Tran; owner of Cafe de la Loba, Danielle Smith; and owner of Boon Boona Coffee, Efrem Fesaha.

After hearing 19 total pitches the judges selected the winners.

Winning the “Start-Up/Idea” category was Alisha Malcolm with her business idea Dog N’ Pony, a dog-friendly bar where locals can take their dogs to socialize and get exercise while also enjoying a beverage with their own friends and fellow dog owners.

Winning the “Early” category was Sarah Cabarteja, creator of Down The Ave LLC. Cabarteja started a tabletop card game series that plays similar to Apples-to-Apples or Cards Against Humanity, which feature Pacific Northwest-specific themes and stereotypes which she has already sold successfully to the area demographics.

Winning the “Established” category was Alina Muratova, owner of Sweet Nothings and More. Her company caters to artisan baked goods for other businesses and events. She offers custom-made-to-order treats for whatever a client needs and hopes to open a brick-and-mortar bakery in the Renton area.

The audience voted for the “People’s Choice Award,” which was given to Mary Wu and her business: Coby’s Cafe — a dog-friendly indoor cafe designed to offer a pet-friendly retreat for dog owners and dog lovers to visit.

Other entrepreneurs and businesses to look for now or in the future include:

Joel Katzenberger with Renton Meditation and Mindfulness Center wants to bring a brick-and-mortar space for in-person meditation classes and mindfulness training to help the community sort through the stress, anxiety and depression that many are experiencing.

Colleen Lenahansen with Cloudburst Creative wants to provide streamlined and affordable graphic design for local small businesses and nonprofits who may not have the resources to effectively design their branding.

Beth McMorran with Solace wants to be South Seattle’s first Myofascial Release Therapy clinic to help treat those suffering from chronic pain.

Edith Gonzales with Copa De Oro Fruits has the idea for a business that offers convenient and environmentally friendly packaged fresh fruit products as a healthy snack alternative.

Rehab Al-Shamiri with Koshari From Cairo wants to open Renton’s first Egyptian restaurant with her husband who has been cooking authentic Egyptian cuisine for many years.

Candace Bever with AMATOXtest, who has a product that rapidly tests for deadly mushroom toxins that can kill within days. She is seeking FDA approval for her product, which is already used in research and veterinary medicine.

Kelly Affleck with TOMATOtomato, who wants to open an all-ages arts and crafts studio that offers flexible arts programming and will clean up the mess post-arts and crafts mess so customers do not have to.

Hannah Laurin with Forget Me Not Ice Cream Sandwiches makes ice cream sandwiches with fresh local produce inspired by her grandma’s own molasses cookie recipe.

Lakyah Beck with Secret Sandwich Society with the idea of opening an artisanal sandwich shop in Renton to offer delicious and uniquely-crafted sandwiches.

Brad Chellew with I-LIVE-ON, who wants to offer a service that will collect photos and videos of loved ones in a presentable digital time capsule.

Wayde Martin of Ube Overload, who with his wife make Filipino-style desserts and baked goods with flavors such as Ube yam and Pandan.

Tremain Battle of Tres’ House of Cheesesteaks, who currently has an authentic-style Philly Cheesesteak food truck that offers alternative meats and non-meats as well as dairy-free options, which he hopes to turn into a brick-and-mortar location.

Sundee Frazier of Drum Roll Wine has a family-operated wine company with hopes of opening a tasting room.

Nick Hill of Puget Sound Cider Company makes ciders of unique apple varieties that bring forward different tannins and complex flavor profiles.

Abhijit Patil with COQUI Design & Contracting, who offers comprehensive and reliable design and contracting services for building and remodeling projects all with Patil’s quality guarantee.