Monday, May 2, 2022

Axe Throwing Venue and Skate Shop Awarded Startup Funds through Launch Pottsville

On Wednesday night,  the Launch Pottsville Entrepreneur Competition wrapped up and announced the two businesses that would receive startup funds.

The inaugural Launch Pottsville began in February 2020, Pre-Pandemic, and worked for a better vision of Pottsville, to encourage entrepreneurship, as well as aid a greater small business ecosystem in Pottsville’s Strategic Redevelopment Area.

Unfortunately, a month into the project, COVID-19 shut down everything.

In May 2021, the project bounced back and kicked off again.

Interested entrepreneurs submitted their resumes and business ideas that would later be judged on increasing foot traffic in Pottsville, job creation, providing more goods and services to people living in the city and surrounding community, and filling vacant buildings.

The project was funded by several partners and would award $75,000 to two businesses that would be chosen by a selected panel of judges.

15 business ideas were submitted at the start of the competition that narrowed to 11 by the end of Phase 1, and then narrowed to 10 by the end of Stage 2.

Those 10 ideas included candy shops, barbecue and southern cuisine, a performance facility, Hard Cider, a gallery to promote arts and education, entertainment space, a skate shop, ice cream and donut shop, and axe throwing bar.

6 judges were chosen to narrow the 10 to 4.  Those judges were Andrew Reid of Grant Thornton LLP, Frank Murphy, Joseph Drasdis III of Drasdis and Son, Harry Ciavarella of M&T Bank, Kim Lorimer of Evans Network of Companies, and Paul Capelli from Yuengling.

Those four chosen to move on would be:

  • Rage Parade Skate Shop and Apparel by Clarissa Crist (Skate Shop)
  • Frosted Ice Cream and Donuts by Faith Young (Ice Cream Made with Hydrogen)
  • The Chopping Block by Jonathan Marsh and Alex Chivinski (Axe Throwing Bar)
  • Arrow Studio and Events by Allie and Jared Doran (Entertainment Studio)
On Wednesday, the presentation phase was held at the Pottsville YMCA with local officials, elected officials, business leaders, and curious residents attending.

Each participant plead their case before the 6 judges again in a 15 minute presentation.  Those presentations focused on where their business would be located, the positives of it's impact, the challenges they may face, and their long term financial plans.

NOTE:  Recordings of each of the presentations are at the end of this story.

At the end of the night, the judges met privately to discuss the award winners.  It took only 15 minutes for the judges to return with an announcement.

In the end, the Chopping Block and Rage Parade were awarded $75,000 each.

Crist of Rage Parade said ""I can't believe this is happening, I feel like I'm dreaming! This has been such an amazing journey! The competition was a lot of hard work, and I am beyond grateful for this incredible experience. I can not express enough, my gratitude for everyone involved with the Launch Pottsville competition. It definitely was not easy. The competition was fierce, and I'm very happy I had the opportunity to of gotten to know them over the last few months. I'm a huge advocate for the Revitalization project, and beyond excited to bring Rage Parade Skate Shop & Alternative Clothing store to downtown Pottsville. Thank You Everyone!"

Marsh of the Chopping Block said "This was a lot of hard work.  About a year ago we came up with this.  Launch Pottsville gave us the opportunity to make it happen.  Very thankful for being pushed by the great competition that we had.  All the ideas were really great.  That pushed us to bring our A game every single time.  We are very excited to get started.  Now the hard work begins!"

PADCO Executive Director Savas Logothetides said "It's been a long time coming to the culmination of this project.  I couldn't be more proud of the 4 aspiring entrepreneurs who presented tonight.  I couldn't be more proud of their commitment to finishing it.  While there 2 businesses that were funded, we're not going to walk away from these other two groups.  PADCO, the City, the Chamber, SEDCO, Visitor's Bureau, everyone working together made tonight happen and we're going to do everything in our power to make sure that not just the 2 that were awarded but those that want to continue down the road of opening their business, we're going to make sure they're successful as well.  

When asked about another the future of Launch Pottsville, Logothetides said "You know, Launch Pottsville 2, I hope it comes around, but that won't come around until we cultivate the businesses that were funded and anyone from the competition that they are in a successful place."

Opening Remarks


The Chopping Block

Rage Parade Skate Shop

Frosted Ice Cream and Donuts

Winners Announced

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