Virginia Beach woman wins big in Something in the Water entrepreneurship contest
The Hampton Roads Chamber is excited to share that the winner of the Something in the Water Pull up and Pitch contest was SBDC client Crystal Lugo/GloveScaler! Read more about this announcement in The Virginian-Pilot article:
VIRGINIA BEACH — Crystal Lugo spent over four hours in line Saturday waiting for her shot at a piece of $50,000 in venture capital during the Something in the Water Pull Up and Pitch contest.
But was nothing compared to the 10 years she spent developing her patented product, the GloveScaler, an efficient way to remove fish scales in one motion while protecting from fish handler’s disease, a dangerous bacterial infection.
The Virginia Beach resident’s long wait paid off when she walked off the stage with the grand prize, $25,000, to invest in her business — B & C Gloves.
“This fund is definitely going to be from my hands to the manufacturer’s hands. I’m able now to go to the retailers and say ‘Hey, try my samples,’” said Lugo, who just learned last week about the competition through LinkedIn.
Damien Bell, the director of operations for Black Girl Ventures — founded by his mother — said Saturday that the Washington, D.C.-based venture capital firm partnered last year with Black Ambition, a nonprofit started by Pharrell Williams, to close the wealth gap. Comedian Jay Pharoah, a Chesapeake native, served as a celebrity judge.
“It was really great to see someone who had a patent for their invention,” Bell said. He added that the environmental and health value of Lugo’s product, along with the clarity of her plans to scale production, helped convince the judges.
Getting prototypes manufactured has been Lugo’s biggest hurdle. After she had her first child, she quit working because she and husband Brandon Lugo, a school principal in Virginia Beach, couldn’t afford child care. They now have five children ages 2 through 12.
“I want to encourage mothers, especially, who work so hard and feel like they have to give up on their career because they have to raise their babies,” Lugo said. “I call myself a mompreneur.”
The first companies she approached told her prototypes would cost $30,000, so she made the first iterations. Then in 2016, she thought she’d found the right company to partner with and invested $8,500, scraped from savings and donations from friends and family.
Instead, the company told her they’d need a larger investment and sent her a prototype so poor she felt it could have been made by a child.
“I was devastated,” she said. “I wanted to give up.”
Lugo remembers crying and her husband telling her, “It’s going to be OK. We’re going to get through this somehow.”
The example she was setting for her children and her desire to create a legacy was the only thing that kept her going. Her five kids swarmed her when she walked in the door after the contest, she said.
“Money is great but that right there was an experience that I’ll never forget,” she said. “It’s bringing tears to my eyes. They see the sacrifice I’ve made and my work is not in vain.”
Lugo wasn’t the only big winner. The second-place prize, $15,000, went to Brittney and Javon Callier of “Pour and Stay Full,” who were pitching for the first time in person.
“It was exhilarating and nerve-racking,” Brittney Callier said.
The food-and family-focused business offers coaching, therapeutic cooking classes, and catering. It was inspired by Brittney’s first career as a social worker, her husband’s experience growing up in an area where vegetables were rarely on the table and by how close both were with their grandmothers, who helped teach them to cook.
Being a social worker showed her how many connection opportunities families miss when they don’t spend time together in the kitchen. She also highlighted how many families need help developing skills in both coping and communication.
The contest couldn’t have come at a better time. The Calliers have a crowdfunding campaign with the goal of raising $40,000 to open a storefront.
Their cookbook, “The Therapeutic Kitchen,” goes on sale in September and features low-cost recipes, conversation starters and other relational tips.
With help from the pitch contest and their crowdfunding campaign, the Calliers plan to continue serving a different kind of soul food.
Katrina Dix, 757-222-5155, firstname.lastname@example.org
Original Source The Virginian-Pilot article Virginia Beach Women wins big in Something in the Water entrepreneurship contest
Added on January 24, 2024 by Virginia Chamber of Commerce to Chamber News
Added on October 18, 2023 by Amanda Duncan to Chamber NewsRead More