Annual Business Challenge Gives $25,000 to Local Businesses

Published: November 14, 2022 | Author: Hayley Radle | Read Time: 3 minutes

State Bank Business ChallengeDozens of products and businesses were presented “Shark Tank” style at this year’s State Bank Business Challenge, an annual event sponsored by State Bank of Southern Utah and hosted at Southern Utah University as part of the One Utah Summit. In an attempt to win cash and other prizes to help grow their businesses, over 30 Utah residents and college students throughout the state pitched during the first round before the pool narrowed down to eight finalists to compete in the following day’s final round.

During the first round on October 11, 2022, all participants gave 90-second presentations to three separate panels of judges preceding a 60-second question and answer segment. The eight chosen finalists gave the same pitch on October 12, but this time on stage, in front of an audience, and to a new and prestigious board of adjudicators.

The eight winners included:

  • Chelsey Durand, Yummy Tummy Sweets Bakery - a Cedar City bakery that specializes in making everything from scratch.
  • Leland Black, GilaBox - a toolbox doubling as a multifunctional charging station.
  • Kelly Ferraro, The Glitter Nerd - magnetic glitter eyeglass frames for standard frames.
  • Burke Adams and Phil Tuttle, Antler Tech - single 3D-printed antlers to match missing halves found by shed hunting.
  • Craig Roundy, Eco Dripper - a plant self-watering tool that connects to plastic water bottles, encouraging the reuse and recycling of plastic.
  • Joel Dustin, Precision Drop - an eyedropper guiding device to prevent eye drop waste and improve accuracy.
  • Brandon Acajabon, INXSON - an immersive children’s audiobook experience meant to bring stories to life.
  • Alan Martin, Autobiography - an app that captures voice recordings of life stories to preserve through generations.

Each judge gave a Judge’s Choice award to the participant of their choosing during the final round, including a governor’s choice award from Utah Governor Spencer J. Cox. Each finalist received a $500 to $5,000 cash award, with select winners gaining additional business mentorships, all possible through donations from the State Bank of Southern Utah.

Ferraro, who creates stylish, feminine, and mostly glitter magnetic eyeglass frames at her Enoch, Utah workspace, won $1,500 from multi-business founder Rich Christiansen as his judge’s choice award. She also received a mentorship with Christiansen and, according to her, has already learned a lot from him after just one conversation since the competition.

With the money she has won from the challenge, Ferraro plans to buy new materials, a laser printer, and a second 3D printer to aid in a quicker production process for her company, The Glitter Nerd.

Acajabon, another Business Challenge finalist, won the Governor’s Choice award for his company, INXSON, and plans to use his $3,000 prize toward marketing efforts and children’s story development to increase the number of available audiobooks for his customers.

The State Bank Business Challenge is meant to provide opportunities for competitors to expand their businesses, which it has for these participants. Though she was originally hesitant to enter and compete, Ferraro said she sees her business changing in ways she never thought possible after her participation. Along with purchasing additional equipment, she hopes to provide opportunities for local young women to gain business experience as her company grows.

Similarly, Acajabon intends to keep growing his business to reach a wider audience of children.

“Because of this experience, I feel more motivated to keep working and improving to make INXSON a leader in audio storytelling,” Acajabon said.

Both Acajabon and Ferraro had a positive experience throughout the process and have seen the benefits that come from participating, so they encourage anyone passionate about their small business to try to grow and expand by taking advantage of the opportunity to participate in the challenge.

Serving southern Utah since 1957, State Bank was founded with a mission to provide community banking to help individuals and businesses grow and succeed, allowing the local economy to strengthen as they do so. Holding $2.2 billion in assets and operating 16 branches across 14 cities and towns, State Bank is grateful for the past 65 years of support from residents around southern Utah that has allowed for sponsored activities such as the Business Challenge. For more information about the State Bank of Southern Utah, visit

Tags: Entrepreneurship One Utah Summit School of Business

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