(Council Bluffs) -- Several local companies are coming together to help invest in small businesses.
TS Bank along with Advance Southwest Iowa are hosting their small business pitch competition "REV" in early November. The contest enters its seventh year, and as of today has awarded over $100,000 to encourage local entrepreneurs to continue their dreams. Kelsey Stupfell, a spokesperson with TS Bank, says this year they're looking at giving away $13,000 to the winners.
"We kicked off with $5,000, Advance Southwest Iowa came in with $2,500, and then we have a lot of other major and minor sponsors from the southwest Iowa area that just love this program and want to contribute to it," said Stupfell.
Applications are open from now until September 10 to both new and expanding small businesses.
Choosing the winning pitches starts by narrowing down the multitude of applications that TS Bank receives to a final five and having the contestants deliver their ideas in front a judging panel and live audience. The judges look at everything from sustainability to long-term potential growth. Stupfell says they got the idea for REV from a hit TV show of a similar process.
"We're big Shark Tank fans at the bank we have a lot of employees that watch that," said Stupfell. "We really just wanted to spur economic growth and kind of have his ecosystem where start-ups could really flourish. One of our great quotes from one of our CEOs was 'I had no idea all these businesses were happening in our own backyard’. So, it's just a really great way to showcase that."
As they've continued the competition, Stupfell says they've had a variety of pitches come across and encourages everyone to share their unique ideas.
"We had Mulholland Grocery in Malvern, we had Doggy Diapers," said Stupfell. "It's just really cool to be like a little sliver in people's journey and give them that little injection to get them to the next step."
Last year's winners included Viva Fit Kitchen at $12,000 and The Occasional Collective at $3,000.
Along with contest applications, TS Bank is also still taking additional sponsors as well. To apply, go to tsbank.com/rev. There's also a kickoff event on July 27 at 4:30 p.m. at the Hoff Family Arts and Culture Center where you can learn more and hear from past winners and other business professionals. You can hear the full interview with Kelsey Stupfell below.