Written by: Molly Blake
After Kristina Guerrero, the owner of and genius behind TurboPup, finished her presentation, the three judges watching were thrilled when she passed out samples.
‘This one’s peanut butter,” said the former Air Force C-130 pilot of her complete meal bars for dogs, made with 100% American sourced, human grade ingredients.
Guerrero is one of the top three finalists from the V-WISE category of the Citi Salutes: Realizing Your Dream Business Competition along with Outdoor Book Club and the Academy of Scholars.
Army vet Jill Hinton started Outdoor Book Club as a way to help women discover their inner heroine via travel adventure tours. And Academy of Scholars is a is a private school/nonprofit organization founded and operated by Shevonica M. Howell that provides a program of study for children in grades K-9.
“These businesses are poised for a injection of money that will really help take them to the next level,” said Ray Toenniessen, the director of new initiatives and external relations for the IVMF. “And we are thankful that Citi has provided the resources and much needed capital into the hands of our veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs.”
The judges for the Boots to Business category also chose three top finalists after their 20-minute presentations.
Andre Smith bowed out of a family vacation that was a year in the making in order to attend this weekend’s competition. It’s a good thing he did as Celestial Lighting Services, an electrical repair company was chosen as a finalist. Docere eLeaning Solutions, LLC, a full service educational consulting firm based in Lawton, Oklahoma and Dr. Tony Turin’s Mt. Hood Eye Care were also among the finalists.
“We, as judges, get the opportunity to hear new ideas from passionate people,” said B2B judge Gina Harman, the CEO of Accion U.S. Network.
The six finalists will give a 90-second pitch Sunday morning to the conference attendees who will decide first, second, and third place winners. Citi will then present $25,000, $15,000 and $10,000 prizes respectively. All of the IVMF’s follow on resources will be available to the winners going forward including, mentorship and technical assistance to them as they grow the business.
Jessica Eaves-Matthews, a V-WISE judge and author of Wonder Women Book said afterwards about the entire competition and the energy among all the participants. “I’m feeling really inspired.”
She’s definitely not alone.
Molly Blake is a freelance writer.