Earlier this year, we reported on the remarkable results of a collaboration between Discover® Debit issuer United Bank and PULSE. The Homegrown Startup Pitchfest was a competition for entrepreneurs in Eastern Alabama and Western Florida offering a $40,000 prize pool.
Now we feel a little like proud parents after the ribbon-cutting ceremony for one of the competition’s winners.
The contest kicked-off with local entrepreneurs submitting business plans to the bank. A panel of United Bank employees helped whittle down more than 50 entrants to 10 finalists. After some mentoring and coaching, the finalists pitched their ideas to a panel of judges.
Entrepreneur Bailey Duos, a recent graduate of the University of South Alabama, had a beaming smile as she opened the doors of Port City Pups in a newly-renovated warehouse in downtown Mobile, Alabama. Port City Pups offers doggy daycare, boarding and grooming services.
Bailey credited the $10,000 second prize she won in the Homegrown Startup Pitchfest with making her dream of opening her own business become reality.
“This wouldn’t have been possible, at least on this timeline, without the prize money – it was absolutely vital,” Bailey said. “In the bigger scheme of things, $10,000 might seem small, but it provides essential working capital to pay bills as we get the business off the ground.”
Bailey started her own business as a dog sitter at age 11. By the time she started college, she set a goal to start her own doggy daycare and generate funding to help rescue abandoned and abused dogs. Today, at the age of 21, Bailey estimates startup costs, including the purchase and renovation of the warehouse, totaled over a half-million dollars.
This success story illustrates why PULSE and Discover were excited to team with United Bank on the Homegrown Startup Pitchfest. The contest saw many entries, drove thousands to the bank’s web page, and created a ripple effect of banking activity. Highlights include:
- The campaign drove more than 1,600 unique visitors to the bank’s web site
- More than 50 people submitted entries
- The bank realized a 14% increase in small business loans and a 17% increase in business checking accounts during the contest compared to the same period the previous year
Congratulations to Bailey on this wonderful accomplishment! We can’t wait to see what’s next. If you want to learn about Homegrown Pitchfest and other innovative marketing solutions available to Discover Debit issuers, talk to your Account Executive.