Entrepreneur Katie Kehlenbach won the $10,000 grand prize on Tuesday in first Round Rock Public Library’ Biz.ability business plan competition.
Kehlenbach, who won with her design of a barbell collar, will receive $7,500, a Dell computer system worth $2,500 and a consultation with a Dell Technology expert. Mandy Kelly was named runner-up and won $3,500. The competition was targeted to Round Rock-based startup entrepreneurs.
“I’m really excited,” said Kehlenbach, who is the co-founder ofAdderLock. “It’s nice to hear the validation, when you have been building a business for years and to kind of continually be validated by users or people who are interested and people who see the problem that you’re solving.”
Kehlenbach won for her patented barbell collar that allows for a faster attachment and detachment compared to existing collars that make the process difficult. Kehlenbach said during her pitch that the collar will allow users weight lifters to increase their training time without the extra hassle.
Kehlenbach said she was motivated to create AdderLock by her struggles with lifting barbells.
Kehlenbach said she was excited about entering the competition because even if she did not win, she would come out of it with a business plan that she could use.
“That nudge of encouragement and then understanding all the tools we have access to through the library is super exciting,” Kehlenbach said.
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As part of the competition, entrants had to create a business plan and the library offered free ZOOM workshops to help them start, develop and maintain their businesses. They also met with an advisor from Austin SCORE, a nonprofit that mentors small businesses.
Kehlenbach said she will use the prize money to make the product with a 3D printer.
Kelly was chosen as runner-up for her business idea, Liberty Dog RRTX. Her business makes small-batch dog food and treats following Texas Cottage Food guidelines to provide chemical-free nutrition to dogs.
“I am very happy that I got runner-up,” Kelly said. “(There) was a lot of great competitors (and) it was a great process, working with a SCORE mentor was wonderful, I learned a lot.”
Kelly said during her pitch that she was inspired to begin her dog food business after the name-brand dog food she used was recalled.
“Our mission is to liberate dogs from chemicals,” Kelly said.
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The competition started with 17 entrepreneurs from which six finalists were chosen. The finalists presented their business plan to a panel of six judges that included an assistant city manager, local entrepreneurs, chamber of commerce leadership and Dell staff.
The other four finalists were:
- Colette Hammons, CEO of Mahacobo, a business that creates personalized gifts crafted in wood
- Eric Kapinus, owner of VinoSwag, a company that helps other companies promote themselves via customized bottles of wine
- Patricia Powell, who operates Round Rock Cleaning Services
- Robin Lawrence. founder of Lil Dumpling Publication, which aims to fill in a void in availability of English/Mandarin children’s books.
The competitors were judged on their business plan, effective use and impact of the prize money, effective use of the city’s library information and research tools, community impact and viability of their business model, according to the competition’s program.
“It’s always interesting to watch small business owners try to start their business and see their passions, their blood, sweat and tears,” Mayor Craig Morgan said during the competition. “I’m excited to look for key ways to continue to help entrepreneurs and create a ecosystem to make sure that you’re able to grow right here in the city of Round Rock.”
The competition was announced by the Round Rock Library in January and was inspired by the New York Public Library business competition.