Business savvy pays off as companies compete for venture capital

No more winging it for Jason and Megan Day of Lee’s Summit.

The Days, owners of BBQ Addicts, which created the world-renowned Bacon Explosion dish, were selected by a panel of judges as the first-place winner in Lead Bank’s Eastern Jackson County Challenge, a business initiative launched six months ago by the Garden City-based bank’s affiliate, Lead Ventures.

The challenge, part of Lead Ventures’ business accelerator program, included five local companies whose leaders gave their final presentations last Wednesday at Longview Mansion in Lee’s Summit

BBQ Addicts was awarded $40,000 of the $50,000 grand prize. The other $10,000 went to Sheer Madness Haircuts for Kids, an Overland Park-based company that recently open a new location in Lee’s Summit.

“We feel fantastic,” Jason Day said lafter learning his business had won. “Through the Lead Bank program we were able to put together what we think is a pretty solid business plan. This is going to allow us to execute it so much faster.”

The first priority, he said, will be to redesign the company website.

“We get a ton of traffic through our site so we need to be able to capitalize on that traffic”

Day said BBQ Addicts now has a much better approach to business after spending six months gaining knowledge through Lead Ventures’ accelerator program.

“We lacked discipline in our business before this, and really, a plan of action,” he said.

The presentations and business concepts were so impressive that the judges decided to award money to the second-place finisher, said Josh Rowland, vice chairman of Lead Bank and CEO of Lead Ventures.

“The voting was so close,” Rowland said. “In fact, the voting for the top three was very close.”

Jim Otto of Sheer Madness was pleased with the judges’ goodwill.

“We can use the capital, and every little bit helps,” said Otto, director of corporate and franchise development for Sheer Madness. “I think the BBQ Addicts are awesome. They deserved to win, but we’re excited to come out of here with something.”

In addition to BBQ Addicts and Sheer Madness, other finalists were The Berry Nutty Farm, Community Buying Group and vProviders. Throughout the competition, the five companies were introduced to others in the professional investment community.

Rowland was pleased by the broad participation, including people from the chambers and the economic development corporations in Blue Springs, Independence and Lee’s Summit, plus the academic community.

“We really put together something that really spoke to the whole community of eastern Jackson County.”