AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - For more than two decades, the WT Enterprise Center has hosted the EnterPrize Challenge to help small companies and start ups succeed.
The winners receive a share of a $500,000 grant to invest in their business endeavors which in turn, is re-invested in Amarillo.
Joanna Harmel is the Chief Operating Officer for The Funeral App, an app offered on Apple and Android to help those plan for an unexpected funeral.
"It's an all encompassing app, we offer free obituary listings for people to view nationwide," said Harmel. "We also offer free funeral planning, anything to do with death care, we want to be able to offer that to the public."
The Funeral App is one of eight other finalist this year. Those companies pitched their business plan to a panel of judges. The judges determine if they could benefit Amarillo.
"They are looking at the idea, looking at the team," said David Terry with the WT Enterprise Center. "One of the other criteria specifically for this grant challenge is that a business's revenue has to be from outside of Potter and Randall counties. So, they're looking for the reach, the number of jobs, the amount of revenue that these companies can bring in."
Over 79% of the companies that have been funded by the EnterPrize Challenge are still in business.
Travis Fanelli started Fanelli's Finest in 2011 and won $50,000 four years ago from the challenge. He started out making a his family's pasta sauce recipe in his kitchen. After winning the challenge he has been able to sell jars of his product at United Supermarkets and allow school districts in the Panhandle use it to make lunches for children. He now says he is taking his product to the next level.
"We partnered up with Sysco Foods. They have distribution centers all over the country, so we can grow with them all over the United States," said Fanelli. "We are working on with another company to put our pasta sauce in school across the country."
Harmel hopes to join the ranks of other business people who have won the challenge.
"We are the absolute first in our industry to do what we're doing," said Harmel. "So, we're excited to bring this to the public and offer something that no one else has."
If you have an idea, or a business you want to take to the next level contact the WT Enterprise Center at 806 374-9777.
Libby Lane Leather, $100,000
Battle Beaver Customs, $100,000
SciCron Technologies, $75,000
Optimum Rose Access Solutions, $75,000
IAN Group, $50,000
The Funeral App, $50,000