Alchemy Sandbox winners lean into challenge of live pitches as Porter House KC awards third-round checks

A The winners of Round 3 of the Alchemy Sandbox each walked away with a check for $5,000 this week after an intense live pitch experience for the entrepreneurs behind three Kansas City Main Street Ventures and two black business support organizations.

“It was interesting to see how I had all this information in my head, but I didn’t know how to connect it all together to create a pitch,” said Chelsey M., founder of KC Black Owned, reflecting the workshop experiences with it led to her successful pitch in front of the Alchemy Sandbox jury.

As a grant program from The Porter House KC, Alchemy Sandbox provides key funding, mentoring, and connections to founders in partnership with UMB Bank. Jill Hathaway, senior business development consultant for the Missouri Small Business Development Center at UMKC, led the workshops.

The program is “challenging but worth every minute,” said the founder of KC Black Owned.

click here to read about the origins of KC Black Owned, a social media-based support firm for black-owned businesses in Kansas City.

Chelsey M., KC Black Owned, faces the Alchemy Sandbox judges

“The live pitch gave me the opportunity to share my company live with the UMKC community as well as a panel of judges who may not have heard of my company before,” said Chelsey M., who does not publicly reveal her full name as a result of the sensitive nature of their work on social media and for online privacy and security reasons. “They ended up asking challenging questions that allowed me to think at a deeper level in relation to the data I was presenting.”

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Those connections were a key reason executives at The Porter House KC and Alchemy Sandbox chose to hold in-person presentations for the third round of honorees, said Miranda Schultz, program manager at The Porter House KC.

“From a purely ‘feel good’ perspective, it felt refreshing to be back in person for a live pitch – like all the responses coming back from ‘VID,'” she said, noting that it was a new experience for both the Pitcher as well as for the was team at Alchemy Sandbox. “We have found that the live pitching sessions over the past round have opened up other experiences for our business owners, such as: contact representatives of organizations such as Kauffman Foundation, UMB Bank, Small Business Development Center (SBDC); physically meeting and observing other business owners going through some of these (especially some of the uncomfortable and unnerving feelings), challenges in presenting their business; and just physically having the experience of a personal pitch.”

Kinley Strickland and Calvin Vick, KC Daiquiri Shop: Bistreaux

Kinley Strickland and Calvin Vick, KC Daiquiri Shop: Bistreaux

The full list of Alchemy Sandbox Round 3 winners includes:

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Interested in introducing your company to Alchemy Sandbox? click here apply.

As the alumni manager of The Porter House KC, Schultz said she was proud to give special recognition to 79Roze Dress Shop as an honoree as well as a graduate of one of the organization’s Small Business Mentorship cohorts.

Craig Moore, Venture for America, Black Excellence KC

Craig Moore, Black Excellence KC

She was also pleased with the mix of businesses and support organizations such as KC Black Owned and Black Excellence KC in the program’s third quarterly round.

“However, the most exciting piece that I think I would like to highlight is the presentation that three of the five of these honorees were business owners who reapplied in the second quarter,” said Schultz. “Another goal of this Alchemy sandbox program is to create a space (and show the importance of it) for the resilience and sometimes discomfort that entrepreneurship can bring.”

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“Seeing three of these five small business award winners take their feedback from their previous pitching experiences and implement these changes represents our hope for all these small business owners of this Alchemy sandbox program to draw on.”

For KC Black Owned, the program is a starting point, said Chelsey M.

“Now that I have had this experience and learned a new language related to pitching, I am looking for other funding opportunities that would allow me to work on other projects that my company needs to fund,” she said also asked to speak at several social media and branding conferences since participating in Alchemy Sandbox.

click here to learn more about the past winners of Alchemy Sandbox.

This story is possible thanks to the support of Ewing Marion Kaufmann Foundationa private, nonpartisan foundation that works with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create unusual solutions and empower people to create their futures and thrive.

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