Culinary Entrepreneurs Smoked the Small Business Challenge


Forsyth Technical Community College held the Small Business Launch Challenge Awards on Dec. 18, 2017 to complete the first session. Six finalists presented their proposals and three winners were selected. The first place winner was Stacey Mitchell, co-owner of Smoke and Skillet Food and Beverage Catering; second place winner was Faith McKnight, owner of The Sweet Truth Bakery and Catering, and the third place winner was Calissa Hooper, owner of 5 Sistah’s Delight, Food Truck Catering.

The three other finalists were LaTanya Tyson, owner of Crossyard, an online sales organization for fraternity and sorority apparel and gifts; Kimberly DeWindt, holistic coach and owner of Empowered Life Transitions; and Chrissy Klunder, owner of Himilayan Salt Therapy. All finalists won a share of $50,000 from the Forsyth Tech Foundation.

The panel of judges, including business mentors for the small business challenge and Forsyth Tech faculty members, selected the winners based on their presentation, the potential success of their business start-up, and the work they had completed throughout the program.

Allan Younger, director of the Small Business Center at Forsyth Tech, explains that the program will work with individuals who will be committed to launch their business within six months of completing the program.

At Forsyth Tech, 22 entrepreneurs were selected in August based on the feasibility of their business ideas. They have been participating in educational events, weekly group meetings, and one-on-one consultations with business mentors to help guide them in their process.

The Launch Challenge is the result of a collaborative effort among six Winston-Salem-based colleges and universities called the Emerging Entrepreneur Funds. Announced last May, the schools are offering a series of programs for their students and alumni to help encourage entrepreneurship. Each institution developed a different program with established guidelines in support of their initiative. Forsyth Tech’s program is the Small Business Launch Challenge.

The following schools also participated along with Forsyth Tech:

  • Piedmont International University
  • Salem College
  • UNC School of the Arts
  • Wake Forest University
  • Winston-Salem State University

At Forsyth Tech, a special award fund was created for alumni, current students, and Small Business Center clients. The Launch Challenge will foster successful business start-ups in Forsyth and Stokes Counties. The award pool is $100,000 per year for three years through 2020. The award amount will be based on successful completion of the Launch Challenge. The next session for competitors ran through May.