Sanity Chocolate wins Cottage Grove Business Competition
COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. - Three start-up companies are collecting their winnings from the Cottage Grove Business Challenge, which launched in August.
The competition began when a entrepreneur decided to offer up his own money to help other entrepreneurs in the area.
The challenge gathered 24 submissions, and judges ranked participants based on business plans.
Three winners were chosen, including Sanity Chocolate, owned by Mike Caven, won first place and $6,000.
Caven is a self-taught chocolatier. From start to finish, he buys the beans, roasts the beans and refines the chocolate.
This world of chocolate and entrepreneurship is still new to him, and in his off time, he's a captain firefighter and paramedic.
"This was an opportunity to be creative, have an outlet that wasn't fire," said Caven.
It started as a hobby, and a nice break from work. Then Caven and his wife started selling the chocolate through a co-op. In September, they opened up a shop in Cottage Grove.
And now, thanks to the Cottage Grove Business Challenge, it is about to grow quite a bit.
Along with the prize money, Caven will receive continued mentorship as well.
"The judges were really impressed with the quality of this plan," said Micah Elconin, with RAIN Eugene. "His full circle understanding of the business that he's operating and his ideas about how to move that business forward were very compelling."
Caven also plans to start a program for local students, and his ultimate dream is to open up a factory downtown. But for now, he's grateful for his recent winnings, and excited to see his passion grow.
The competition organizers say that after this year's success, they hope to make this an annual tradition, and they're already planning on another business challenge for next year.