In the last two months, five amazing entrepreneurs have emerged from the pack during InnoVentures, our annual pitch competition that helps entrepreneurs build the skills they need to take their businesses to the next level.

At the InnoVentures 2018 finals on March 26th at Lagunitas Brewing in Ballard, you can watch these five Ventures entrepreneurs pitch their innovative ideas for their chance at $5,000 in cash prizes. Twenty-two applicants participated in this bracket-style competition, and these five finalists will be evaluated by a panel of judges on community need, innovation, feasibility, and presentation at the finals. Buy tickets before they sell out.

Congratulations to our InnoVentures Finalists!

Katie Clary

Finalist - Clary Sage StudioKatie Clary is the founder of Clary Sage Studio.

What inspired you to start your business?
I just really leaned into what was fun after spending lots of years doing work, things I had to do. It’s just really satisfying to make something and give it to someone and see them light up.

How has Ventures or InnoVentures helped your business?
I needed a lot of work in strengthening my financial and business skills, which I never had training in up until this point. The introductory class gave me exactly what I needed to be a successful small business owner. [InnoVentures] has given me lots of confidence to do the pitch, presentation, and feedback. It has been helpful for public speaking.

What would you do with the prize money?
I would invest in a cooling system to help me keep my flowers longer and fresher. This equipment will help me give my business infrastructure so that I can spend time with my 3 and 5 year olds.

Charli Greig

InnoVentures Finalist - VibesCharli Greig is the founder of Vibes Energy Healing and Chakra Oils.

What inspired you to start your business?
My business idea was sparked from a desire to help people and a way I could sustain myself. I was inspired by the energy healing services and a way for clients to continue healing in their everyday lives by integrating the invisible and emotional shifts into the physical.

How has InnoVentures helped your business?
In every way. From instructors asking me the tough questions and having me dig deep within my business, to pitching my business for InnoVentures and really narrowing it down to the nuts and bolts. Ventures has been the best cheerleader and I wouldn’t be anywhere without them. I wouldn’t have thought that I could start business if I didn’t have these resources presented to me.

What would you do with the prize money?
My new innovation, my travel kit pouches. I would place the order and start to get them ready for sales.

Heather Hoffacker

InnoVentures Finalist - Fluffybutts BelltownHeather Hoffacker is the founder of Fluffybutts Belltown.

What inspired you to start your business?
I was passionate about animals my whole life… we started our dog walking business and we are pivoting CBD treatment because we saw a huge gap in the market for dogs with anxiety, pain, allergies, and inflammation. We thought there had to be something better than pharmaceuticals for dogs. After working with scientists we came up with our own formula of CBD treatments, which are extremely effective and not as damaging to a dog.

How has InnoVentures helped your business?
I wouldn’t be here without Ventures. My husband and I have taken every course Ventures offers and now feel confident in our business. I wouldn’t have known how to start, how to maintain, and how to grow my business. We have 8 full-time employees and that is all because of Ventures.

What would you do with the prize money?
We need support in ordering the minimum quantity of product and we will put money toward marketing and advertising.

Monica Trejo

InnoVentures Finalist - Puro DulceMonica Trejo is the founder of Puro Dulce.

What inspired you to start your business?
Customers inspired me to open my own business. I was a decorator for many years at a big box store. People always wanted variety, but I was unable to accommodate, based on restrictions. I decided to go out on my own.

How has InnoVentures helped your business?
Ventures has helped tremendously, especially with the numbers. I had no business knowledge, or any idea on what I was doing. This has been an amazing journey.

What would you do with the prize money?
I would expand by getting more equipment to grow my business. The demand is there, however, it is just me and I have to turn people down, because I can’t do it by myself.

Lauren Wilson

InnoVentures Finalist - Sweet Lo's Ice CreamLauren Wilson is the founder of Sweet Lo’s Ice Cream.

What inspired you to start your business?
I started Sweet Lo’s Ice Cream moments after tasting homemade ice cream. Growing up, I never had the chance to make ice cream. I found an ice cream maker in the basement of where I was working and the moment I made some I knew that I had to share this exact experience with as many people as I could.

How has Ventures or InnoVentures helped your business?
Ventures has been so helpful from the beginning. I have been working with them since my business launched in 2013. They helped me secure a $1,000 loan to purchase my first ice cream maker. I am so grateful to live in a city that has an organization like this. It means so much to me.

What would you do with the prize money?
I would buy an updated ice cream cart. I would be able to cater events and do all sorts of fun things.