Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Griffin: Some Firsts in Spirit Awards in Tulsa

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Griffin: Some Firsts in Spirit Awards in Tulsa

Article excerpt

There were a couple of firsts in this year's Spirit Awards, according to Sean Griffin, chairman of Tulsa Global Entrepreneurship Week and a judge in the Spirit Award competition.

"For the first time, all three winners were female," Griffin said. "And, for the first time, all winners went to market during the competition. They in some way penetrated the marketplace, gained customers and built revenues."

Kristen Ross was named grand prize winner of the SpiritBank/ Tulsa Community College Entrepreneurial Spirit Award competition. Ross received a $30,000 check from SpiritBank.

Jan Laub, owner of Twin Foods Inc., placed second and won $5,000. Cathy Fox, owner of Enclosables LLC, finished third and won $2,500.

All but one of the seven finalists had made it to market.

Ross, founder of PregoFIT, had been selling her exercise video for nearly a year when she entered the competition last spring. Ross has developed an online and DVD series featuring a series of total body workouts designed for each month of pregnancy.

Going through the competition was like drinking from a fire hose, said Aamon Ross, the husband of Kristen Ross.

"You are hit with so much," he said. "Once you finally get through all the judges' recommendations, then it is time for the next round."

The husband-and-wife team changed their business model several times through the competition.

"We've carved our own niche, taking a mom through all nine months of pregnancy and postpartum," Kristen Ross said.

Aamon Ross agreed, adding that the market of women having babies is worth about $1 billion.

"The Spirit Awards competition helped us to see other layers in the business that made it unique and set it apart," Aamon Ross said.

Griffin agreed.

"PregoFIT transformed their business model and in 90 days they went 180 degrees," Griffin said. "They turned it into an online, membership-based, downloadable exercise coach-mentoring network. It was an incredible feat."

One judge, Greg Forrest, called the field one of the toughest in the past four years.

"All of the finalists could have been in the top three," Forrest said. "They all prepared and progressively got better at every single pitch. They listened to the coaches and judges. …

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