SOAR announces second Startup Appalachia Pitch Competition


Shaping Our Appalachian Region, Inc (SOAR) is hosting its second Startup Appalachia Pitch Competition on Thursday, October 15, 2020.  This year’s competition will be held virtually using Zoom.

This year’s competition is presented by Toyota Tsusho and sponsored by Peoples Bank, The Gorge Underground, the Tri-State Angel Investors Group, Invest 606, US Bank, Clarks Pump N Shop, SPEDA (Somerset Pulaski County Economic Development Authority) and Double Kwik.  Through the support of sponsors, those pitching will compete for a $5,000 grand prize, $3,000 for second place, and $1,000 for third place.  All winners will also be placed in the Invest 606 Accelerator and Pitch Competition program for a chance to win an additional $15,000.

“Entrepreneurs see opportunity during challenges,” said Jared Arnett, executive director of SOAR. “While we still continue to deal with COVID-19 and its impact on our lives, we believe that startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses are as important as ever.”

This summer, SOAR launched its Startup Appalachia website.  The site is powered by Appalachian Wireless and is a one-stop shop for those wishing to turn an idea into a reality or scale an existing business.

What kind of businesses or ideas are a good fit for the Startup Appalachia Pitch Competition?

  • We are looking for scale-able tech enabled businesses that are solving unique problems.
  • We are looking for businesses that are providing a service and/or product that has a market outside of your community and preferably, outside of Appalachia.
  • We are looking for businesses that are leveraging technology in their business sales, production, and/or marketing processes.
  • Primary business operations should be based out of one of the 54 Appalachian designated counties in Kentucky.
  • We believe in the importance of a strong team; preference will be given to businesses who have a strong leadership team in place.’

Those interested in making their pitch must complete an online application at www.startupappalachia/pitch.  The deadline to apply is September 14, 2020.

The Startup Appalachia Pitch Competition is supported by The Center for Rural Development, Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation (SKED), Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED), Kentucky’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation, and Invest 606.

SOAR launched its SOAR Innovation program last year and was again awarded the RISE contract through the KY Innovation Office for fiscal year 2020-2021.  Since opening, SOAR Innovation has provided support to more than 550 businesses and identified 70 companies with high-growth potential.

SOAR Innovation has a team of business and innovation champions located throughout Appalachia Kentucky ready to assist entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses.

For more information on the Startup Appalachia Pitch Competition or SOAR Innovation, contact Ryan Jones, director of SOAR Innovation, at

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