IGNITE Pitch Competition: The River District Association provides $52k in startup cash

VA DANVILLE (WSET) – Through its IGNITE Pitch Grants programme, the River District Association (RDA) has awarded three companies a total of $52K to help them launch or grow their brick-and-mortar operations in the River District.

A multi-stage entrepreneurship project that includes the IGNITE Pitch Competition and RDA’s Dream Launch Programme.

The Dream Launch Bootcamp, which makes up the first portion of the programme, consists of six workshops aimed at giving participants the fundamental know-how and abilities they will need to run a successful firm. Everyone is welcome to participate in the Bootcamp, and admission is free. There is also a separate course that focuses solely on restaurants and bars.

Participants that wish to launch or grow a brick-and-mortar business in the River District’s downtown are then qualified to compete for grant money in the IGNITE Pitch Competition after completing the whole series.

Additionally, Dream Launch Bootcamp participants have the option of competing for funding in the Danville-Pittsylvania Rev-Up Pitch, which is run in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce, through cooperative efforts and partnerships. This opportunity is available in sites in Pittsylvania County or Danville outside of the River District.

start up
start up

179 people have registered for Dream Launch Bootcamp classes as the program’s fifth year comes to a close. Out of these, 113 people showed up for at least one lesson, and 76 of them finished all six classes and received a Certificate of Completion. The judges then heard five business proposals during the April Dream Launch Pitch Competition. Movement Bank joined in the pitch competition and gave two grants of $1,000 each to selected participants in addition to the IGNITE Pitch grants.

Three of the five businesses who presented their concepts were chosen to receive money from the 2023 RDA IGNITE Pitch Competition.

The following new companies will have their headquarters in the River District:

• Owner Rae Barnes of 2 Earthy Mamas received a grant from Movement Bank for $10,000 plus $1,000.

• Amy Pruitt, owner of The Happy Little Fox Toy Shop, received $28,000.

Funding was provided to an established company to increase services:

• Von Wellington, owner of River District Auto Spa, received $14,000 plus a $1,000 grant from Movement Bank.

“It is encouraging to see friends and neighbours turn a business dream into a reality,” said Will Mackaman, the manager of programmes and services. Above all, we want to express our gratitude to each and every IGNITE Pitch participant for their perseverance, resolve, and audacity.

The City of Danville provided funding for the 2023 RDA IGNITE Business Pitch. The following organisations are additionally participating in the IGNITE Pitch Competition and RDA Dream Launch Programme as community partners:

  • Centre for Small Business Development in Longwood
  • The Launch Site
  • Chamber of Commerce of Danville and Pittsylvania
  • Bank Movement
  • University of Averett

Mentors and judges who volunteer their time all across the Dan River region.

In the autumn of 2023, registration for the 2024 RDA Dream Launch Bootcamp, the program’s sixth year, will be made available.

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