Bob Evans Farms, Inc. announced today that BeneFIT Medical Apparel, K9 Salute and Street Smarts VR are the three winners of the company’s second annual Our Farm Salutes grant-giving program Heroes to CEOs. All three businesses will be awarded with a $25,000 business grant, and they will each receive one-on-one mentoring with Daymond John, founder and CEO of FUBU and co-star of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” at an exclusive event at blueprint + co in New York City.
There were 158 entries for the second-annual Heroes to CEOs grant-giving program. Each eligible entry was scored based on reason, presentation, feasibility, opportunity and future success of the business or plan submitted. Three of the judges were the recipients of the 2017 Heroes to CEOs Contest.
“At Bob Evans, it is in our DNA to support our veteran and military communities. I was personally awestruck by the meaningful and innovative ideas presented by veteran entrepreneurs in this year’s Heroes to CEOs contest,” said Mike Townsley, president and CEO of Bob Evans Farms. “BeneFIT Medical Apparel, K9 Salute and Street Smarts VR each provided us with passionate stories and comprehensive business plans. Their ideas coupled with the capital from this grant and the priceless coaching from our partner Daymond John will have a powerful impact.”
BeneFIT Medical Apparel, co-founded by U.S. Air Force veteran James Reynolds, develops and distributes athletically engineered medical apparel that is specifically designed for maximum performance during a physically demanding job, while still maintaining a professional appearance. BeneFIT scrubs were created to bring a better quality, better functioning scrub to the market.
K9 Salute, founded by retired combat medic Jessica Harris from the Washington Army NationalGuard, creates all-natural wholesome dog treats made with many ingredients sourced from veteran-owned farms in the USA. Each bag of treats honors a fallen police K-9. A portion of each sale goes to a designated K-9 or veteran organization that assists in the purchase of protective vests for police K-9’s and to help veterans get service dogs.
Oliver Noteware was an infantry officer in the U.S. Marine Corps and co-founded Street Smarts VR. The company provides immersive virtual reality simulations for reality-based training of law enforcement and public safety personnel. Their mission is to improve policing outcomes and officer safety. Street Smarts VR develops role-based training scenarios by harnessing the power and low-cost of mobile VR headsets, advanced graphics, and interactive technology, thereby enabling officers to train in a variety of high-stress situations.
“James, Jessica and Oliver have a bright future ahead of them, and I am beyond humbled and excited to work with them to help them achieve their business goals,” John said. “I have been ecstatic working with Bob Evans Farms for a second year to honor veteran-owned businesses and entrepreneurs. I have so much respect for them and while it is great to work with them on how they can better their businesses, the real win for me is that I get a chance to learn from them and how they have each gracefully transitioned from serving to building what will be very successful businesses.”
Inaugural winners from last year’s grant competition, FanFood (founded by Carson Goodale), Mutt’s Sauce (founded by Charlynda Scales) and Vet Veggies (founded by Jerry Martin and Darryl Hill), have all had great success since receiving their grant. Because of the Heroes to CEOs grant, they’ve each been able to meet and exceed their business goals, including growing into new markets, expanding their production and sales as well as reach new target audiences.