Pitch Southern West Virginia Business Idea Competition Winners Named

Beckley, W.Va. (April 3, 2023) – Six regional entrepreneurs and two teams of West Virginia
University Institute of Technology (WVU Tech) students shared and enthusiastically promoted
their business ideas March 30 with a panel of judges and a live audience at the Pitch Southern
West Virginia Business Idea Competition on the WVU Tech campus. The judges and attendees
selected the winners, who received strategic feedback and encouragement, as well as prize
money from the event sponsors to boost their success.
The West Virginia Hive, in partnership with the WVU Tech Launch Lab, coordinated the
competition and organized the event.
Diana Woods, director of the WVU Tech Launch Lab and coordinator of the event, said the
following entrepreneurs/business owners and student entrepreneurs were determined to have
the best business ideas:
First Place – $2,250 to Hinton Outfitters, pitched by Lee Ann Goins of Hinton
Second Place — $1,250 to Paws N Pals, pitched by Corey Lacy of Beckley
Third Place — $750 to Vinyl Tracks LLC, pitched by Clint Blunt of Beckley

Student Winner — $1,000 to WVU Tech Entrepreneurship Club for Cultural Lounge, pitched by
Zack Reid and Leonor Ferreira
Prize winnings provided by private contributors to the West Virginia Hive will be used to
advance the winners’ businesses or ideas. Planned spending by the four winners includes
purchases of furnishings and equipment, lease and opening costs, signage, marketing and

Judy Moore, executive director of the West Virginia Hive and deputy director of the New River
Gorge Regional Development Authority, said “the presenters were outstanding and learned a
great deal through this experience — from formulating their business idea to fleshing it out for a
pitch before a live audience and our expert judges. We’d like to extend a huge thank you to our
community sponsors for providing the generous cash prizes. They came out in full force – so
much so we were able to increase the planned amounts for entrepreneurs by $250 for each
award level.”
Sponsors supporting the business idea pitch competition and providing all funding for
the awards include:
 Gold Level sponsor: United Bank
 Silver Level sponsor: Chase and Ashley Barton of Stephens Auto and WV Auto Buyers
 Bronze Level sponsors: City National Bank, Fayette County Chamber of Commerce,
Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce
 Special Student Award sponsor: Fayette County National Bank
Judges who heard the pitches and offered questions included:
 Ryan Thorn, State Director for West Virginia, U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural
 Chris Vaught, President and CEO, Vaught, Inc.; entrepreneur and founder of six
innovative West Virginia companies, and Vice Chairman of the WV Hive Board

 Kyung Moon Kim, D.B.A., Associate Professor, Department of Accounting and
Management, WVU Tech
 Teresa Cook, Sales and Service Representative, United Bank

Those in attendance also had the opportunity to vote for their favorite pitch in each group.

Judges in the first round who selected the entrepreneurs and student groups who would pitch
their business ideas March 30 included:

 Peyton Ballard, Founder and CEO, Ballard Consulting Group
 Zack Statler, Market President, United Bank
 Mike Fulton, Director of Public Affairs and Advocacy, Asher Agency

Woods said the business idea competition was limited to entrepreneurs of new start-ups and
businesses in operation for less than three years. Eligibility was limited to residents or
businesses located in Raleigh, Fayette, Nicholas, Summers, Webster, Pocahontas,
Greenbrier, Monroe, Mercer, Wyoming, McDowell, Logan, and Mingo Counties, along
with WVU Tech students, faculty and staff.


The WV Hive is the entrepreneurship program of the New River Gorge Regional Development
Authority and the administrator of the Country Roads Angel Network. Its 13-county service area
includes Raleigh, Fayette, Summers, Nicholas, Webster, Greenbrier, Pocahontas, Monroe,
Mercer, Wyoming, McDowell, Logan, and Mingo counties. More information about the WV
Hive can be found at
WVU Tech has been training leaders for more than 125 years and offers 30 academic programs,
including 9 ABET-accredited engineering programs. Ranked in the top 15% of earning potential

in the country by PayScale and among the best undergraduate engineering programs in the
nation by US News and World Report, WVU Tech has a rich history of academic excellence.