Five Richmond-area businesses are each $5,000 closer to implementing export plans they presented in a recent a “Shark Tank”-style pitch competition.
Metro Richmond Exports Initiative (MREI) awarded the prizes in a Jan. 25 contest that had 10 companies vying for the funds by pitching plans to help increase their export business.
The winning businesses included: Baby Change-N-Go, a Bon Air-based company that produces portable diaper changing stations; Detectamet, a UK-based manufacturer of x-ray- and metal detector-friendly products that expanded to Henrico in 2015; and Sandrog International Commerce, a Henrico-based lab equipment supplier.
Rounding out the five were Shoe Crazy Wine, a Chesterfield-based wine wholesaler and distributor, and Spectra Quest Inc., a Lakeside-based company that develops training and diagnostics systems for industrial maintenance products.
The awards were underwritten by JPMorgan Chase, which helped launch MREI with a $140,000 grant awarded in 2015 to VCU’s Center for Urban and Regional Analysis.
MREI is a collaboration of the center, VCU’s L. Douglas Wilder School of Government, and economic development groups Greater Richmond Partnership and Virginia’s Gateway Region, with additional support from Virginia Economic Development Partnership.
Participants worked with tutors to prepare their presentations, and the winners were judged by a panel that included Bill Houck of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Nick Klym of JPMorgan Chase, Brett Vassey of Virginia Manufacturing Association, John Vivadelli of Agilquest, and Van Wood of VCU School of Business.
The nonprofit reports that, in 2016, 9.4 percent of businesses in the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area exported to countries such as Canada, Mexico, Turkey, Iraq and Australia. A survey conducted by the Wilder School also showed that Richmond-area businesses export goods more than services and just over 25 percent of businesses expressed interest in export assistance.