August 2, 2022
The PenFed Foundation, a national 501(c)3, today proudly announced Mississippi River Flavor Company as the winner of the PenFed Foundation’s Veteran Entrepreneur Investment Program (VEIP) Ignition Challenge presented by MidCountry Bank, which included grants for the winner and finalists totaling $75,000.
"PenFed Foundation is proud to support veteran-owned businesses across the Midwest through the PenFed Foundation Ignition Challenge," said PenFed Foundation President Shashi Vohra. "We would like to thank MidCountry Bank for their generosity and helping to make this challenge possible. We were amazed by the quality of applicants, and we are thrilled to be a part of the promising futures of these veteran-owned companies."
The winner of the pitch competition, Mississippi River Flavor Company, won a grant of $25,000 and will also receive a full-length promotional video and publicity.
Second place finalist, Bucket of Bread LLC received a grant of $20,000, while runners up also received $10,000 grants. Each of these businesses had the opportunity to pitch to a panel consisting of PenFed Foundation and MidCountry Bank leadership.
This challenge supports veterans, active duty, guard, reserve, and military spouse entrepreneurs located in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin by inviting them to identify their business impact and goals and providing the top businesses with funding and mentorship.
- Mississippi River Flavor Company – Air Force veterans Jaden and Erica Peck founded the company that hand mixes an assortment of all natural spice blends and rubs that can be ordered and shipped around the nation. One of their specialties includes a collection of blended rubs that celebrate all five branches of the Armed Forces, as giving back to the military community is important to their business initiative.
- Bucket of Bread LLC – U.S. Army veteran Chris Wysong founded the company, which provides high quality dough mixes. Each bucket holds about three and half pounds of dough that come in Traditional White Dough, Hearty Wheat Dough and Seven Grains Dough. Bucket of Bread LLC has also started the Bucket Benefit Program, where donated buckets are brought to community kitchens and organizations and help to combat the social injustice of hunger in America.
- Barnside Woodworks – A small woodworking business founded by U.S. Air Force veteran John Scholtz was also named one of the finalists that received $10,000. The business custom makes cutting boards, keepsake boxes, and even end tables.
- Catalyst Group – Another winner of $10,000, the Catalyst Group, is a coaching group that combines Occupational Therapy, certified Enneagram coaching to help their clients reach their professional potentials. The coaching group was co-founded by U.S. Marine Corps veteran Ryann Engholm and certified Enneagram coach Jessie Johnson.
- Rivers Edge Bistro – A restaurant founded by U.S. Air Force Reserve member Andrew Britton that offers inventive, shareable plates to pair with beverages from Rush River Brewery. Rivers Edge Bistro was also named one of the finalists and won $10,000.
In addition to funding, VEIP staff is providing coaching and support to all winners and finalists to help each fine-tune their businesses and to further position them for future success.
About PenFed Foundation
Founded in 2001, the PenFed Foundation is a national nonprofit organization committed to empowering military service members, veterans and their communities with the skills and resources to realize financial stability and opportunity. It provides service members, veterans, their families and support networks with the skills and resources they need to improve their lives through programs on financial education, homeownership, veteran entrepreneurship, and short-term assistance. The Foundation has the resources to effectively reach military communities across the nation, build strong partnerships, and engage a dedicated corps of volunteers in its mission. To learn more, visit www.penfedfoundation.org.
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