Entrepreneurship for All celebrates one year in the SouthCoast

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NEW BEDFORD — Say you’re at home in the city or surrounding towns and you’re hungry for a meal from a favorite local restaurant, but they don’t deliver and you don’t feel like picking it up. One of life’s irritating little challenges, right?

Soon, you might not have to worry about it — two New Bedford business owners Got Chew.

Ryan Caton and William Gilmour, working to launch their Got Chew food delivery service, were the top winners at EforAll South Coast’s All Ideas Pitch Contest and one-year anniversary celebration Friday at the Quest Center. The event was held in the Groundwork collaborative work space and drew an enthusiastic crowd, who heard pitches from eight entrepreneurs trying to win startup capital for their ideas.

Caton and Gilmour took home $1,500 split between two big checks: one for $500 as the “fan favorite” — attendees voted by text message, with live results projected onto a wall — and $1,000 as the first-place selection by a panel of four local judges, all with business expertise.

Gilmour is a 25-year-old sales associate for Comcast. Caton is a 26-year-old surveyor for Vivint Solar. The two Got Chew co-owners said they’d use their winnings Friday to develop a website and marketing materials, connect with local restaurants and spread the word about their business. They plan to add a 20-percent surcharge on top of the order price, calling the fee comparable to the tips customers would pay had they actually gone to local restaurants.

Gilmour and Caton said they hope to serve New Bedford and surrounding towns.

“We’re going to need a lot of drivers,” Gilmour said.

They were just two of several business or project owners who gave pitches Friday. Second place in the contest went to Temistocles “Tem Blessed” Ferreira, who won $750 to develop illustrations for “Planeta Blu: The Rise of Agoo,” a graphic novel he’s creating for teens. He described the story as “an epic adventure,” starring inner-city youth who struggle to save humanity and the animal kingdom from an evil world-conqueror named Zander.

“Think of it as ‘The Hunger Games’ meets ‘The Jungle Book,’” Ferreira said.

Third place went to Diana Painter, who won $500 for Miss Pockets, her idea to sew hidden pockets into women’s dresses and garments that were made without them.

“We make the pockets out of recycled material from thrift store clothes,” Painter said, adding that the cost could be $30 for a pair of pockets sewn into a customer’s garment, with matching fabrics.

Other ideas pitched Friday included Cycle Composting company, a pick-up composting service proposed by Caitlyn Kenney; Smart Joints, an industrial pipe innovation proposed by Abel Jimenez; The Collective, a community performing arts center and cultural hub proposed by Kevin Mitchell; an expansion of The New Bedford Book Festival, by Steven Froias; and Donna Motta’s Kalm Communications, a marketing and communications consultancy for businesses and professionals.

“We are so excited about the energy of the crowd tonight, and the diversity of ideas,” EforAll South Coast executive director Shelley Cardoos said.

EforAll South Coast is funded by a three-year grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, and is a local expansion of the EforAll model in Lawrence and Lowell. A new location is planned in Lynn.

Friday night’s event was EforAll South Coast’s fourth pitch contest over the past year, with a total of $2,750 in prizes given away at each one. The next pitch contest is Oct. 20 in Fall River, with an application deadline of Oct. 7. Applications are online at www.eforall.org.

Cardoos said several pitch contest entrants also have participated in EforAll South Coast’s business accelerator program, which has graduated 20 businesses and awarded $35,000 in startup funding over the past year.

EforAll South Coast’s summer accelerator program celebrated its graduates Sept. 7. The next program begins in December, with applications online and due Oct. 25. The program offers resources over a year, starting with an intensive three-month period.

Cardoos said all 20 businesses that have gone through the program are “still in process” of developing and moving forward. Many attendees at Friday’s pitch contest were past participants, reflecting the system of shared support that Cardoos and EforAll South Coast program manager Jeremiah Hernandez have cultivated.

“I’m really happy to see how far along we have come in one year, and how much of a community we’ve been able to build within our EforAll network,” Cardoos said.

Cardoos described simple goals as EforAll South rolls into its second year of operations.

“Just keep going strong, reach out to new businesses and make sure that everybody knows about this resource,” she said.

Follow Mike Lawrence on Twitter @MikeLawrenceSCT.