Sharks entrepreneurial event sees incredible night of pitches


Vanessa Wodtke pitches her company Bloom Wild at the Swimming with the Sharks competition.

Did you miss Swimming with the Sharks? That’s ok, here’s a recap.

This year was the best yet with 8 great ideas for innovative and cultural experiences in Sioux City. In fact, the ideas were so great that the money got split between all of the finalists. Here is a list of how the award money was split.

Michael Billings – Pure Retirement – A retirement company that utilizes Dwolla for retirement fund withdraws. Michael was awarded $200 to cover costs to Des Moines and set up meetings with Dwolla.

Jill Guericke – Skillander – A specialized skillet/colander mix that browns your meet at the same time it strains the grease. Jill was awarded $200 to continue with pro type development.

Ryan Martinez – An app for city government/citizen communication – This idea utilizes smart phone technology to bring citizens closer to the city and make them aware of needs, such as potholes, the need to be done. Ryan was awarded $200 to continue research and development of the app.

Anthony Rossi – Double D’s Driving Service – A “Nightlife Transpertainment” company that utilizes folding mopeds to get you and your car home safely from a night out on the town. Also, Double D’s will be using pedicabs to connect the different corridors of downtown Sioux City. Anthony was awarded $500 to help with insurance costs.

Blake Anderson – Pushlee – Pushlee is an app used to help drive business back into the gas stations. While filling up with gas, Pushlee will send retail specials via push notifications to increase the foot traffic inside the store. Blake was awarded $800 for travel costs to promote the app.

Mark Samuelson and Donna Samuelson – Perry Hills Aronia berries – Perry Hills grows aronia berries to sell to a distributor for production of products such as jams and wines. Mar and Donna were awarded $1,000 to help with an irrigation system.

Jean Gill – Four Paws Fitness and Rehab – Four Paws Fitness and Rehab is an animal physical therapy and weight loss center. Her mission is to help the pets in the area get back to health after surgery and help the overweight ones get back to their healthy weight range. Jean was awarded $1,500 to help buy new equipment and expand.

Vanessa Wodtke – Bloom Wild – Bloom Wild is a natural beauty/skincare product company. They make great soaps, as well as other products, from goat’s milk. Vanessa was awarded $2,000 to help her expand into her own space to produce more soap and free up her personal kitchen.

Startup Sioux City wants to give a big congratulation to all the entrepreneurs and small businesses that presented. The ideas and people behind them are what will drive Sioux City and it’s future.

Also, a special thanks to our judges:

Dustin Pratt – Avalon Capital
David Bernstein – State Steel and Saturday in the Park
David Gleiser – Woodbury County Economic Development Director
Rhonda Capron – Member of the City Council
Sam Wagner – Siouxland Chamber of Commerce
Aaron Langworthy – Sam’s Club

Ken Beekley – Siouxland Economic Development Corporation was the preliminary judge.


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