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Business Observer Friday, May 25, 2018 3 months ago

Three companies in running for prize from big retailer

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Pip & Grow is among the companies with area ties that are SCORE American Small Business Championship finalists.

Three companies with ties to the region have been recognized as big winners in small business.

SCORE, a national network of volunteer business mentors, named Pip & Grow, Makers Market and Creative Behavior Solutions American Small Business Championship finalists.

Those businesses are among 102 finalists from across the country, plus Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. The finalists are now in the running to be selected as one of three grand-prize winners. Those businesses will receive $15,000 each from Sam’s Club.

The Makers Market and Workshops is a Bradenton-based business that hosts creative workshops.

Creative Behavior Solutions, based in Largo, offers children behavior therapy treatment.

Pip & Grow manufactures a bassinet designed to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. It’s based in Portland, Ore., but co-founder Lauren Hughey is based in Sarasota. A third business partner is in Charlotte, N.C. “We’re one of those new age companies,” she tells Coffee Talk. All of the team’s meetings are through video and phone calls. 

As a finalist, Hughey says Pip & Grow founders attended a training and networking conference recently and learned more about a variety of business issues, including legal pitfalls, human resources and social media. During the conference, Hughey and the Pip & Grow team learned how to better engage with people through social media. Since the competition started, the company has increased its Instagram followers by 54% and Twitter followers by 25%.

The company is also involved with SCORE through an ongoing mentorship. Hughey says Pip & Grow has had a SCORE mentor for two years. “It’s a huge resource for anyone who wants to do better in business,” she says. “We don’t have a big training budget. To have an organization that can help in that way is really meaningful.”

This summer, Hughey and the other area finalists will find out which companies won the grand prize. If it wins, Pip & Grow would use the money to help develop a new bassinet stand and increase its marketing exposure. “If people hear the story, they buy the product,” she says. “But they have to hear the story.”

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