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Cigar, Wearable Tech Entrepreneurs Win MORTAR Covington's Pitch Night

Two entrepreneurs won the virtual MORTAR Covington "Life's a P!tch" event this week in which seven budding business operators explained their ideas.

The judge's choice award was won by Elle Tennyson of MojoSmoke, a mobile and pop-up business offering unique, small batch cigars and cigar accessories.

Tennyson was awarded $2,000 in seed money, a $500 photography session by Pop Rocket Creations, and 50 hours of in-kind marketing services donated and provided by Icon Marketing.

The judges were Lawrence Chappell of First Financial Bank, Jason Bender of Icon Marketing, and Jeni Houser of Ei District.

“Elle (Tennyson) was a Judge’s Choice Winner because of her confidence in talking about her business and how she delivered the value through storytelling," said Houser, one of the judges. "She communicated the feasibility and was comfortable discussing the competition plus how she would target her customers.  She illustrated knowledge of her industry and answered the questions with a growth mindset. We are excited to see her next steps!”

The people's choice award was won by Trevon Bruch of Savewave Technology, a patent-pending vibration-based wristband aimed to improve the safety, security, and quality of living for those individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.

This prize went to the entrepreneur with the most community votes in a 24-hour period. Bruch was awarded $1,500 in seed money.

The "pitch night" was the culminating event for MORTAR, a start-up accelerator, and its 15-week entrepreneurial academy in Covington. The academy is designed for entrepreneurs looking to start, or grow, their business by providing participants the knowledge, resources and connections needed to launch. The program covers topics and offers services including branding and marketing, both personal and business financial literacy, professional mentorships from SCORE, accounting and legal services and advice, and general support through community leaders who serve as Subject Matter Experts throughout our sessions. 

“It is our hope that MORTAR Covington graduates, many of whom haven’t seen themselves represented in the traditional entrepreneurial landscape, will go on to launch businesses that create jobs,  circulate dollars locally, and create a path to generational sustainability and wealth,” said Nick Wade, executive director of Renaissance Covington, which worked with MORTAR in the academy. “ We believe that every entrepreneur with an idea should have an opportunity to explore their idea and learn how to start it.”

Alumni of the MORTAR Covington academy, in addition to the two winners mentioned above, are:

Kameron Seabrook with Open Bay Autos, a DIY mechanic shop providing tools, space and education.

Ashley Peter with Boundless Beauty Studio, a wellness based beauty studio that helps you feel and look your best

Zakayla Riley with Pawpin’ Pawz Luxury Mobile Grooming, a luxurious mobile grooming salon that provides incomparable and convenient dog grooming services by bringing their salon to your home.

Aaron Corsi with AAware, designing and manufacturing functional home decor, gadget docking stations, wall mounts, and cable management solutions for ultra organized and tech savvy people.

April Gosney with The Glass Monkey, a boutique connecting local art to their community in a loving atmosphere, with a focus on the lost art of hand-blown glass.

-Staff report