Do you have a business idea or invention? The Gauntlet program and competition might be for you!


VINTON, Va. (WFXR) – Have you ever had a business idea or an invention pop into your mind and thought, “wow, this could be useful, or I think people would enjoy this?”

If you said yes, you’re not alone. However, we oftentimes allow these creative ideas to simply pass us by.

That doesn’t have to be the case.

The Advancement Foundation, a nonprofit organization based out of Vinton, Virginia is best described as an ultimate purveyor of entrepreneurship. The organization is just now kicking off its 2020 Gauntlet Business Program and Competition.

This will be the sixth year that the Gauntlet will allow entrepreneurs and visionaries to introduce their business concepts and inventions. The program provides participants with valuable resources and a wealth of information.

Really over the ten weeks, they are going to develop their business plan. We do customer discovery, proof of concept, developing budgets, we assign them mentors based on what their strengths and weaknesses are.

Annette Patterson, The Advancement Foundation President

When two weeks remain in the program participants can decide if they want to compete in the Gauntlet competition.

They are judged on their business plan and then if they’re a finalist they go on to do a pitch presentation to our panel of judges.

Annette Patterson, The Advancement Foundation President

Many who have gone through the program say that the sense of community and connections you gain are the biggest prize of all. Still, the winner takes home a tangible prize to go along with the connections made, and the knowledge gained.

I think last year’s winner was maybe about $25,000 in cash and in-kind prizes, but again everybody in the program gets something that they need and we have businesses that volunteer to develop someone’s website and that becomes an in-kind gift.

Annette Patterson, The Advancement Foundation President

The program started out with fifteen participants, this year that number is in the hundreds. It’s now Virginia’s largest business program and competition spanning to over four locations. There have been over 350 alumni to complete the program.

Co-owner of Farmburguesa, Kat Pascal is one of those 350 alumni. Her restaurant, Farmburguesa has been such a success that it has expanded from Vinton to the popular Grandin neighborhood in Roanoke. The burger joint sets itself apart with wholesome and locally sourced ingredients and flavor.

Pascal says the Gauntlet program essentially produces a blueprint for entrepreneurs.

The side of kind of having that business organization or having the blueprint before you start doing things to really focus on diving deep into market research, diving deeper into qualities that you need on a team, diving deeper into, “is this going to work and why would it work?”

Kat Pascal, Farmburguesa Co-Owner

Pascal also says that “to be in the atmosphere of creatives and to find other people that are thinking differently” is refreshing and she found much value in gaining relationships with like-minded people.

Pascal is excited to be the Facilitator for The Advancement Foundation in Allegheny County this year.

Those interested in the Gauntlet Program can still participate. Signups end on February 18th. For more information on how to sign up or if it’s near you, click here.

WFXR News is a proud media sponsor for the Gauntlet.

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