Louisa Winkler of Ferry Boat Seeds took home first place in the “Launch San Juan Islands” new business competition.
The third annual contest led by the San Juan County Economic Development Council is for small business owners who lack the resources to get their ideas off the ground. Winners were announced during a luncheon at Cynthia’s in Friday Harbor on Nov. 8.
Winkler’s San Juan Island-based business produces GMO-free seeds. Friday Harbor Hive’s Kathy Kane received second prize. This business is a shared workspace, meaning that Kane coordinates the rental of an office space for multiple businesses. Jennifer Ferber and Casey Sjogren’s film production company Neon Tide, also based on San Juan Island, took home third.
“The judges were so impressed by all of your business that they really want to help all of them. So please contact me if you didn’t win, because they are willing to assist,” said EDC Director Victoria Compton.
The competition provides materials, tools and workshops. After putting together a marketing pitch and business plan and giving a presentation, first place ($1,800), second ($900) and third ($400) winners are announced. The judges were Ashleigh Draffkorn with Valmark, Becky Day of the Chamber of Commerce and Steve Buck of Coldwell Banker.
Prizes were funded by the EDC, Valmark, Edward Jones, Roche Harbor Luxel, Coldwell Banker and The Journal of the San Juans.
The program started with 10 businesses but a few dropped out, leaving six people who completed the competition. Applicants had to be in San Juan County, in business for less than one year and be over the age of 18. Minors could participate but they were not eligible for prizes. Other participants were Jordana Ansley of Divination Tea House and Elixirs, Marnee Smith Thomas of Mystic Origins (also an elixir bar) and Sandy Strehlou with Salish Sea Mercantile, a gift box company.
The business owners formed a bond throughout the program, talking eagerly with each other over their meal. After lunch, Compton thanked all the participants and donors and gave all business owners a certificate of appreciation.
“There are so many business ideas out there; I loved being a part of that creativity,” said Ansley, who is currently looking for a space to rent.