No more winging it for Jason and Megan Day of Lee’s Summit.
The Days, owners of BBQ Addicts and the creators of the world-renown Bacon Explosion dish, were selected by a panel of judges as the first-place winner in Lead Bank’s Eastern Jackson County Challenge, a business initiative launched six months ago by the Garden City-based bank’s affiliate, Lead Ventures.
The challenge, part of Lead Ventures’ business accelerator program, included five local companies who gave their final presentations June 26 during “Final Pitch Night” at Longview Mansion in Lee’s Summit
BBQ Addicts was awarded $40,000 of the $50,000 grand prize, with an additional $10,000 being awarded to second place finisher Sheer Madness Haircuts for Kids, an Overland Park, Kan.-based company that recently open a new location at Summit Fair Shopping Center in Lee’s Summit.
“We feel fantastic,” Jason Day said after the business was presented a commemorative grand prize check. “Through the Lead Bank program we were able to put together what we think is a pretty solid business plan. This is going to allow us to execute it so much faster. We are extremely excited to get to work tomorrow.
“First thing we are doing is we are going to start a web design project. We’re going to redesign our site. We get a ton of traffic through our site so we need to be able to capitalize on that traffic. (The $40,000 prize) is a lot of capital.”
Added Megan Day: “I’m so honored and so blessed. We have such a great community right here in eastern Jackson County. We have family and friends, we have all of these people behind us and supporting us, so to be able to present to them and tell them exactly what the plan is, it felt so good to finally be able to talk about all of the things we have been doing so that we can move forward and really grow this into something much bigger; not only for us, but for Kansas City and the barbeque community.”
Jason Day said BBQ Addicts has a much better approach to business after spending six months gaining knowledge through Lead Ventures’ accelerator program.
“We lacked discipline in our business before this, and really, a plan of action,” he said.
That’s what they helped us get to and establish. They helped us really focus in on what can be the true revenue potential, and that’s been invaluable to us. We see this as a springboard to help us grow in the future.”
Presentations and business concepts were so impressive, judges decided to award more than one monetary award, said Josh Rowland, vice chairman of Lead Bank and CEO of Lead Ventures.
“The voting was so close,” Rowland said. “In fact the voting for the top-three was very close. We just felt like after all they had done, after all the work they have put in over six months, that going away empty-handed didn’t really make sense. It wasn’t in the spirit of what we were really trying to do here to boost the whole community, and give more opportunities to these great businesses. That’s why we split it among the top two.”
Jim Otto of Sheer Madness was pleased with the judges’ goodwill to select more than one company to receive a cash prize.
“We can use the capital, and every little bit helps,” said Otto, director of corporate and franchise development for Sheer Madness. “I think the BBQ Addicts are awesome. They deserved to win, but we’re excited to come out of here with something.”
Added Sheer Madness CEO Janon Otto: “I couldn’t be happier. We were just thrilled. We felt like there were five really good companies up there, so to be second is just a compliment. Lead Bank giving more than one award is just awesome.”
In addition to BBQ Addicts and Sheer Madness, other finalists included The Berry Nutty Farm, Community Buying Group, and vProviders. Throughout the competition, the five companies were introduced to others in the professional investment community.
“We’re so pleased,” Rowland said. “We had people from the (Economic Developmental Corporations in) Blue Springs, Independence, and Lee’s Summit involved. We had the Chambers (of Commerce in each city) involved. We had the academic community involved. We really put together something that really spoke to the whole community of eastern Jackson County.”