These Topeka entrepreneurs have a chance to thrive thanks to Go Topeka's pitch competition

Deb North, owner of Yes! Athletics, stands with her daughters, Annie North, left, and Rae North at a sales booth with her female-specific wrestling shoes. Her company was awarded $15,000 through Go Topeka’s Office of Minority and Women Business Development's Pitch Contest this month.
Deb North, owner of Yes! Athletics, stands with her daughters, Annie North, left, and Rae North at a sales booth with her female-specific wrestling shoes. Her company was awarded $15,000 through Go Topeka’s Office of Minority and Women Business Development's Pitch Contest this month.

When a need sparks creativity, innovation often follows and moves us forward. That’s if the conditions are right, anyway. That’s not always the case for underrepresented groups. Often these groups go unnoticed.

Their needs are just as essential, but they often lack the capital, resources or ability to get started.

Go Topeka’s Office of Minority and Women Business Development earlier this month helped move some of these ideas forward through its pitch contest. The Topeka Capital-Journal’s Keishera Lately reports nine of Topeka’s business entrepreneurs had the chance to showcase their talents for cash prizes totaling $38,000 to be distributed among four business owners.

Lately reports nine out of 34 entrepreneurs who wanted to expand their business — or had a concept of a business — were chosen to participate in the contest with a mentor who assisted in strategic ways to present their business to judges.

Yes! Athletics was awarded $15,000 for its work to create wrestling shoes for adolescent girls.

More:Girls wrestling shoes and magazine spotlighting Black creators top winning ideas in Topeka

Dane Shobe was awarded $10,000 for his Sun Hero magazine concept. Sun Hero Magazine is a Black magazine with a focus on pop culture that will shine a light on comic books, animation, film, toy development and more.

Taper Loc by Tonya Fisher was awarded $8,000 for a series of hairstyling tools for dreadlocks. The products are “designed to make the dreadlock servicing process more efficient and provide comfortability.”

Leslie Fleuranges was awarded $5,000 for Tender Loving Care Pet Nursing Hotel.

We’d like to offer our congratulations to these entrepreneurs. We look forward to seeing what you can do with this seed money that will help you expand your business or get it off the ground. Good luck to you.

These pitches certainly fill gaps and missing needs.

Additionally, we’d like to thank Go Topeka for giving these underrepresented businesses a seat at the table. We know they are more than just niche markets. There’s something to be said about investing in our community, in its interests and its talent. There’s also value in letting underrepresented groups have a fair shot at selling their creativity. This pitch project allows them to do so in a way that isn’t pandering or navel gazing.

Thank you for investing in them and showcasing what Topekans have to offer. We’re excited to see what comes next.

This article originally appeared on Topeka Capital-Journal: Topeka entrepreneurs have a chance to thrive thanks to pitch contest