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West Virginia businesses to compete for ‘acceleration’ funding at WVU LaunchLab’s Hayhurst Invitational

A person makes a presentation in front of a white board with the words 'Zinnstarter Competition' behind them.

T.Q. Grant pitches his business at the Morris L. Hayhurst Zinnstarter Pitch Competition, co-sponsored by the WVU LaunchLab. This year, LaunchLab’s pitch competitions for entrepreneurs will include the Hayhurst Invitational, an opportunity for existing West Virginia startups to compete for prize money. (Submitted Photo)

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WHAT: Pitch competitions at this year’s Bridging Innovation Week, co-sponsored by the West Virginia University Morris L. Hayhurst LaunchLab, will include the inaugural Hayhurst Invitational, an opportunity for owners of five West Virginia small businesses to impress judges who are leaders in entrepreneurship and investing with their visions for how the $100,000 first prize or $50,000 second prize will help their startups accelerate.

The invitational is made possible by support from the Hayhurst family and will also showcase the rising entrepreneurs to interested investors.

WHO: Five businesses will compete for prize money. 

     • Mountainside ABA provides therapy services across West Virginia to children with autism.
     • Mountain Steer sells dry-aged beef from cattle raised outside Lewisburg through monthly subscriptions.
     • Stone Tower Brews, with locations in Morgantown and Buckhannon, is a coffee shop and craft beer bar.
     • YNST (You’re Not Seeing Things) Magazine, a print and digital media company whose team spans the state, amplifies Appalachian voices.
     • Lost Creek Farm, operated by James Beard-nominated chefs in Harrison County, hosts culinary events around the state and the eastern United States.

WHEN: April 10, 5 to 6 p.m.

WHERE: Mountain Health Arena Convention Center, 1 Civic Center Plaza, Huntington

NOTES: While LaunchLab has long helped emerging entrepreneurs secure funding, Hayhurst Invitational supporters Jim and Christie Davis recognized a need to provide the crucial support small business owners need to grow. The prizes will enable two existing West Virginia startups to take their businesses to the next level.

“One challenge I’ve heard from members of the Appalachian Investors Alliance is deal flow,” LaunchLab Director Anne Jones said. “Angel investors in West Virginia want to find businesses that are innovative, that understand their customers and industries, that have feasible plans for accelerating. The first Hayhurst Invitational will help make that possible. Every business owner who’s competing was selected as a finalist based on their ability to wow.”

See the full schedule for Bridging Innovation Week.

Find out more about the Morris L. Hayhurst LaunchLab.



WVU Morris L. Hayhurst LaunchLab

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