The game show-styled Elevator Pitch Competition, one of the prime-time events at the conference, involved 10 entrepreneurs vying for a grand prize of $10,000 by pitching their ideas to a packed audience and panel of judges. The judges were
* Lisa Nichols: motivational speaker and author of two best-selling Chicken Soup for the Soul books
* Earl "Butch" Graves Jr.: President and CEO of BLACK ENTERPRISE
* Magnus Greaves: Founder and CEO, TheCASHFLOW, a one-stop resource for advice and financing for new entrepreneurs
Grand Prize Winner: $10,000
What She does: Proposed sports grill franchise of barbecue restaurant
Business model: Dine-in and carryout menu
THE PITCH: "Have you ever tasted a turkey rib? What about a rib tip? Well, we're providing a healthy alternative to traditional barbecue. While most restaurants fail within the first 18 months, The Original Just Turkey Restaurant has doubled business and opened three stores in less than a year and a half in business. Now we want to open a unique sports bar and grill, one that would offer a leaner, lighter, all-turkey menu and where sports enthusiasts can hang and families can feel welcome. What we want to do is transcend stereotypes of the traditional types of barbecue and provide customers with barbecue they don't have to feel guilty about after eating because, after all, it's just turkey."
* Nichols: The idea is very creative. Revolutionary in terms of serving the market like it's never been served before. [However,] I didn't quite get what you would use the funds for. What is the growth strategy? And what's the vision for the next three to five years?
* Graves: The idea is clear. We are moving toward a health-conscious society. For people who want their food to taste good but who don't necessarily want to eat pork, fried [foods], or whatever for a variety of reasons, there is a need.
* Greaves: You are doing some really interesting things, but I didn't quite understand what was happening in the company right now, or what the sales strategy is. People who invest [in an entrepreneur] like to see execution rather than just a pure idea.
Second Prize Winner: $3,500
What she does: Clothing line for tall women
Business model: e-commerce, direct to customer, and retail outlets
THE PITCH: "There are more...