Street Cop Spanish wins business plan fund contest
They loved them this year, naming Street Cop Spanish Seminars the grand prize winner and awarding the young company a prize package valued at more than $18,000.
This is the second year for the contest run by Rock County 5.0, a five-year public/private economic development initiative designed to reposition and revitalize the county's economy.
Fourteen existing or start-up businesses participated in this year's contest, which kicked off in June. Along the way, some dropped out.
The contest involved a series of structured workshops and one-on-one mentoring sessions that were supported by more than 30 individuals and businesses that contributed time, talents and resources.
The prizes were handed out Thursday at the Rock Regional Business Expo luncheon in Beloit.
Janesville police officer Chad Sullivan and businessman John Fugate developed Street Cop Spanish Seminars. The company teaches key Spanish words and phrases to law enforcement agencies.
In last year's inaugural contest, the company received a runner-up award of $3,000. Since then, it has expanded the concept with the formation of Spanish in Your Job, which uses the same training techniques that are customized for a variety of occupations.
Two other finalists received runner-up awards valued at $6,500 on Thursday.
Expresso Ticketing, developed by Eric Larsen, targets venues that lack a centralized box office. It provides an affordable, comprehensive, integrated and secure online ticketing sales platform.
Sweet Alternatives Gluten-Free Bakery is a start-up specialty bakery owned by Christina Slaback, Leah Rebout and Michelle Rebout. Initially offered through a retail format, Sweet Alternatives intends to grow into regional wholesale markets by providing fresh and frozen baked goods designed for populations that have specific dietary needs or healthy lifestyle preferences.
"I think the entire process validates the notion that owning or starting a business is very difficult work," said James Otterstein, Rock County's economic development manager. "It takes a lot of time, energy and effort, and in the end, I think the participants came away knowing that there are a lot of good people and good information in our area that they can tap into as they continue with their business plans."