Five entrepreneurs competed for cash prizes to kick-start their endeavors in the first Great Lebanon County Pitch. The final pitch presentation was held both in-person and virtually yesterday at the Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence, 989 Quentin Road, Lebanon.
The event was originally scheduled for May 2020, but was rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Karen Groh, chair of the Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence, and president and CEO of the Lebanon Valley Chamber.
“I was an entrepreneur for 20 years, so I understand the importance of providing a resource for entrepreneurs,” she said. Red Couch Interiors
First place, $5,000 cash award, went to LLC. Interior designer Danielle Gundrum said the prize will help defray the cost of software and training to add 3-D designs to her clients.
Taking second place $2,000 award was Q’Hubo News LLC. Founder and CEO Amaury Abreu Leonardo said he’ll use the money to further the goal of the news outlet that focuses the Hispanic community.
The $1,000 People’s Choice winner was Your SPAcial Place, a start-up wellness spa envisioned by Penny Donmoyer.
Gundrum launched Red Couch in 2012. She said the business has grown incrementally, including a 30% jump last year despite the pandemic. To meet the increased demand for design services, she’s planning to hire her first employee next year.
“My target market is Gen Xers and Baby Boomers,” she explained during her five-minute pitch to the judges. “Right now those two groups are focusing on bathroom and kitchen renovations, which are pretty complicated to design since there are so many choices out there.” she.
According to National Kitchen & Bath Association, the average cost of a kitchen remodel is $40,000 to $55,000, and the average cost of a primary bathroom remodel is $10,000 to $40,000. Gundrum said the top item clients are adding to their home as part of their bathroom and kitchen renovations is technology such as touchless faucets and smart appliances.
She currently does 2-D designs, but plans to add 3-D designs via the Sketch Up Pro software package.
“We’ll be able to walk clients through the space. They can see exactly how faucets and counters will look,” she said, “It will help homeowners save on their budgets and on renovation time, since they can make any changes in the design phase rather than waiting until something is installed.”
“I’m building up Lebanon County one home at a time,” Gundrum said.
Q’Hubo News is also an existing business. It was founded by Abreu Leonardo in November, 2020. “Q’Hubo means ‘what’s going on’ in Spanish,” he explained, “At Q’Hubo News, the focus is brining news to the Hispanic, Latino and English-speaking community.”
Q’Hubo News provides news on multiple platforms—online, an app, direct mail and a monthly printed newspaper. It covers three cities — Lebanon, Lancaster and Philadelphia — and has a collaborative agreement with two papers and a radio station to translate and reprint content.
The amount of original content Q’Hubo News generates is slowly increasing,” he said.
“I want Q’Hubo News to be the main bi-lingual newspaper in Pennsylvania,” he said
Your SPAcial Place is a startup endeavor for Donmoyer. She said the focus will be offering various Himalayan salt-based therapies including a salt cave and flotation therapy. It will also offer reflexology. “Salt is vital to our bodies,” she said. “A salt bath can help relax your muscles, and when you spend 45-minutes in a room breathing in the minerals, you have a chance to relax and slow down.”
Other competitors were Priya Enterprises and Our Wedding Coffee. Priya Enterprises is a partnership
between Alex McGee, Priya Deshpande and Vijay Deshpande. They currently operate E & E Discount Beer Warehouse, 911 E. Cumberland St., Lebanon, and are planning to expand to a second location at 398 W. Lincoln Ave., Myerstown. The Myerstown location will offer beer (cases, 12-packs, 6-packs and singles), hard cider, wine coolers, adult slushies, ice paper products, snacks and lottery sales. He said projected sales at the new location are $1 million in the first year.
Our Wedding Coffee is a start-up offering custom coffee wedding favors, said entrepreneur John Noll, who is a partner in Swatara Coffee Co, a coffee café with locations in Jonestown and Annville.
“The wedding industry is one where people are searching for a unique experience for their guests and that includes wedding favors,” Noll explained. “A lot of people enjoy coffee, but typically coffee roasters don’t have the small 4-ounce bags that are ideal for wedding favors.”
Our Wedding Coffee works with couples to create their wedding favors to reflect their tastes. The company’s team handles design and assembly as well as shipping to the wedding venue.
Judges for the Great Lebanon County Pitch were Kevin Keith, founder and senior wealth management adviser EnVision Financial Group; Thomas Shenk, senior vice president commercial lending, Fulton Bank; Hugh MacMaster, a mentor with SCORE Lancaster-Lebanon; Andy Long, director of business development, Ben Franklin Technology Partners; and Lebanon Mayor Sherry Capello.
“Most of the entrepreneurs in the city of Lebanon are small micro-businesses, “Capello said. “They are key to our economic development.”
Great Lebanon County Pitch attendees also weighed in on the pitches by selecting the People’s Choice winner.