Over 100 local entrepreneurs head to the Gauntlet to bring their business idea to life

If you have a great business idea, now’s your chance to get funded.

The state’s largest business competition program begins Tuesday night and there’s still time to sign up. 10 News is working for you to help rebuild our local economy by sponsoring Virginia’s largest business competition, the Gauntlet. Started by the Advancement Foundation in Vinton, the Gauntlet helps entrepreneurs start or expand their businesses.

According to the Advancement Foundation, more than 100 entrepreneurs have already signed up this year to begin the 10-week course. Due to the pandemic, classes are virtual this year, making it easier than ever to participate. Annette Patterson, President of The Advancement Foundation, said they made the online transition last year mid-season and it offered new opportunities for participants.

“We were able to find some real advantages to being virtual like being able to connect entrepreneurs from Alleghany to entrepreneurs in Roanoke City or mentors from across the region or anywhere else,” Patterson said.


There is still time to sign up for the program. Virtual classes begin Feb. 9. Applications are still open for the 7th Annual Gauntlet Business Program and Competition online. For more information, interested entrepreneurs, mentors, sponsors, and community leaders can visit here.

The Gauntlet provides a 10-week program that helps entrepreneurs create a business plan. Finalists in the program will be decided based on those business plans, and will pitch their idea in front of a panel of judges.

The Gauntlet incorporates participants from Roanoke County, Roanoke City, Botetourt County, the Alleghany Highlands, and Rockbridge County. New this year, the program and competition will expand to include Bedford County, Town of Bedford, Big Island, Chamblissburg, Coleman Falls, Forest, Goode, Goodview, Hardy, Huddleston, Moneta, Montvale, New London, and Thaxton.


The Gauntlet has engaged 250 community mentors and raised cash and in-kind awards totaling more than $1.2 million since its inception 7 years ago. Top winners can receive up to $30,000 in cash and in-kind support. State Farm is the lead sponsor for the 2021 season, donating $35,000 to the Gauntlet Business Competition.

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