Entrepreneurs will showcase their businesses as part of a new county-wide competition


Turlock’s Juice Us Photography and Design was the winner of Stanislaus Equity Partners’ new Micro Business Development Hub pitch competition.

Featured as a Stanislaus County spin-off on the popular television show “Shark Tank,” businesses from around the county have the opportunity to share their vision with the community through creative designs and presentations in hopes of gaining additional support from the organization and their partners.

“This year is the first time we’ve done this group, so it’s been a pilot program to learn and identify areas where we can better serve our community,” said Monica Vergara, Stanislaus Small Business Services Manager. Equity partners.

Vergara shared that the organization’s mission is to help local small businesses thrive, connecting neighbors, resources and opportunities. She explained that the Micro Business Development Center and the Pitch Competition are a unique and exciting opportunity to achieve those goals.

“We’ve put together a six-month team in partnership with the Valley Sierra SBDC,” Vergara said. “We invite businesses that are in concept or in operation to join us to establish their businesses.”

According to Vergara, there were 10 to 15 businesses that volunteered to be part of the new program earlier this year. Before presenting their business ideas to a panel of judges in August, they had to complete a six-month internship with the Valley Sierra Small Business Development Center, where they had to complete several tasks.

“They had to identify the participants who completed their business plans, identify their members, their financials, and other things like that, and they had to do a lot of preparation for the judges,” she explained.

After six months of grouping, five businesses remained to pitch their businesses at the Weaving Center in Modesto on Aug. 30.

“What’s great is that we share businesses all over the county. Businesses from Paterson, Riverbank, Tulloch, Modesto and Ceres. It was a very diverse group and it was great to see,” Vergara said.

The winner of the pitch competition, Tulloch Juice Photography and Design, received $1,650 for their small business and will receive technical support from Stanislaus Equity Partners Small Business Services as they continue their entrepreneurial efforts.

With just weeks to go until the first pitch, Stanislaus’s equity partners are already looking ahead to the next one.

“Now that we have passed the first one, we have very good hopes for 2023,” she said.

Beginning Oct. 1, small businesses in Stanislaus County can begin applying to participate in next year’s cohort to begin the qualifying process for the second field competition. Vergara and Turlock Economic Development Director Anthony Sims said plans are underway to host the next tournament in Turlock.

“It’s great that the winner is from Turlock and it shows how capable this city and its business owners are,” Sims said. “This is their first experience at the Micro Business Hub, and after reviewing it, there are plans to be another one…I always request that Monica host the next one in Turlock.”

Vergara encouraged anyone interested in learning more or participating in the next Microbusiness Development Hub pitch competition to follow Stanislaus Equity Partners on Facebook at @StanislausEquityPartners and on Instagram at @stanislaus_equity_partners. In Wednesday’s edition of Just Us Photography & Design, they share their stories and experiences in the field competition. Turlock Journal.



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