Shady Oaks Organics wins North of Boston Business Plan Competition
SALEM, Mass., April 10, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a grand finale so close that the judges opted to award two second prizes, Shady Oaks Organics of Newburyport, MA took top honors—and the $5,000 first prize—in the 2012 North of Boston Business Plan Competition. Second place was shared by two Beverly-based companies, Advastim™ LLC and Imagination Brands, each of whom received checks for $2,500.
The finale, held yesterday, April 9, 2012, brought three very different companies to the stage of the recital hall at Salem State University. Shady Oaks Organics is growing and selling gourmet mushrooms in Newburyport, MA; Advastim is developing a wireless (leadless) system to improve spinal cord and other treatments involving neurostimulation; Imagination Brands is the manufacturer of Doodle Roll®, an all-in-one paper and crayon activity kit.
After three well honed presentations, the judges were left with a true apples and oranges choice. Tellingly, they were unanimous in predicting success for all three finalists. Shady Oaks Organics has a clear plan for expanding the variety of their mushrooms and sales to local chefs, farmers markets and Whole Foods Supermarkets. In fact, according to co-founder Nate Seyler, "One of the main reasons we entered the competition was to give ourselves a time frame and the discipline of formulating a serious plan for the future." His partner, Devin Stehlin, agreed. "It's been an incredibly valuable experience, and it's wonderful to see the business community, and people like Representative John Tierney, here supporting this."
Winners must commit to locating to the North Shore and to growing to at least five full-time employees or full-time equivalent employees within two years. Because the quality of locally produced mushrooms is far superior to that of mushrooms imported from greater distances, this is one business that will grow right here on the North Shore, in all senses of the word. At a time when our regional economy is struggling, we welcome not only Shady Oaks Organics, but also all of the 2012 participating companies. We hope they will all stay here and prosper.
A primary goal of the Competition, now in its eighth year, is to support young and growing companies—participants must be less than three years old or implementing a new growth strategy—and encourage them to put down roots on the North Shore. As Laura Swanson, COO of the Enterprise Center puts it, "Small businesses are critical to the North Shore. First and foremost, they are the foundation of our regional economy. But also, not all companies stay small. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we're nurturing a future household name or industry leader?"
Her thoughts were echoed by David Ives, Entrepreneur in Residence at the Enterprise Center and one of this year's judges. "These businesses clearly show that innovation is right at home on the North Shore. I look forward to hearing more about their progress. I hope they all become wildly successful…and based on their plans and their presentations, I have every confidence they will be."
This year's competition was a strong one, with more than 40 entrants and, as the differences among just the three finalists suggest, representing great variety in businesses. All plans were reviewed by a panel of expert judges, which then selected six semi-finalists to make presentations before choosing the three finalists.
As the first place winners suggested, the opportunity to focus on writing a detailed plan and to receive feedback and advice from the judges is a major benefit of participation, as is the exposure to the North Shore business community in general. A survey of previous winners conducted last year identified both as key factors in their subsequent growth and success.
The Competition is grateful for the support of its GOLD Sponsors: TD Bank and People's United Bank; its SILVER Sponsors: Salem Five Charitable Foundation, Community Credit Union, East Boston Savings Bank, North Shore Technology Council, Ozzy Properties, Phil Holberton Pitch Coaching; and Media Sponsor, The Salem News.
Co-sponsors of the 2012 competition include the 128 Innovation Capital Group, Amesbury Chamber of Commerce, Bertolon School of Business at Salem State University, Cape Ann Business Incubator, Creative Economy Association of the North Shore, Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce, Lynn Area Chamber of Commerce, Marblehead Chamber of Commerce, Merrimack Valley Economic Development Council, North Shore Alliance for Economic Development, Peabody Chamber of Commerce, Salem Chamber of Commerce, Salem State University Alumni Association and the Small Business Development Center at Salem State University.
For more detailed information about the 2012 North of Boston Business Plan Competition, visit www.enterprisectr.org/bpc or call (978) 542-7528.
The Enterprise Center arms business owners with the knowledge and skills to start their business, grow, and succeed. The Enterprise Center is located at 121 Loring Avenue, Salem, MA 01970. Phone 978-542-7528, www.enterprisectr.org
SOURCE Enterprise Center at Salem State University