After completing a nine-week course on entrepreneurship and business startup basics, 24 entrepreneurs from Southwestern Wisconsin pitched their ideas to win business services and prizes during Startup Flight Night April 14 in La Crosse.

The event was the culmination of the CouleeCO.STARTERS course, sponsored by Couleecap, a community action organization that aims to help low-income families in the Coulee region of Wisconsin. During the final event at Root Note in La Crosse, members of the public listened to the 13 businesses’ ideas and voted for their favorites, with B&E’s Trees, a foraged food company, taking home the Audience’s Choice and Judge’s Choice awards.

Also at the event, Couleecap announced three winners that will share a total of $37,000 in seed funding awards provided by WEDC.

The three winning startups were:

  • Shade Haven, LLC, which has developed and manufactures an innovative mobile shade unit to provide shelter and relief for animals and humans. Primarily intended for agricultural applications, the Shade Haven offers relief from heat stress that has significant impacts on livestock productivity.
  • Blue Barn Brewing Company, which is developing a large scale hop production and processing center to meet the increasing demands in the craft brew industry for locally-sourced ingredients.
  • Elevate Media Group, Inc., an award-winning multi-media company specializing in high quality video and audio production, creative marketing, graphic design and post-production services. In addition to a number of documentary projects, Elevate produces high-end corporate marketing and training videos, event and non-profit promotional videos, and online/web video projects.

Since the inception of the CO.STARTERS program, more than 1,350 entrepreneurs have graduated, creating 2,752 jobs in 1,068 active businesses around the country, according to the program’s website. The program contains lessons including honing your business strategy and establishing a solid marketing and customer base, as well as making plans for future growth.

More information on the event and applications for the next CouleeCO.STARTERS cohort beginning June 2 are available on CouleeCO.’s website.