KalyANa Organics was named the winner of the 2018 Rev-Up MKE small business competition after a live pitch contest Tuesday.
Near West Side Partners Inc. hosted the third annual competition at The Rave on Milwaukee’s Near West Side. A panel of judges chose KalyANa for first place and for runner-up selected Triciclo Peru MKE, which also won the WaterStone Bank Audience Choice award.
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KalyANa received a $10,000 cash prize from WaterStone Bank, advertising and recognition from NWSP, and $25,000 of in-kind services, including architectural renderings, small business consulting, legal audit and communication support. KalyANa sells organic, gluten-free baked goods and packaged mixes.
“The name KalyANa means wellbeing. It’s a Sanskrit word, wellbeing. And that’s what I strive to do—give people a product that contributes to their wellbeing,” said owner Susie Roberts.
Roberts, who makes the products in a commercial kitchen in Dousman, plans to open a storefront in a vacant space on the near west side with the winnings.
"I am elated," Roberts said. "The Near West Side has so much potential and I'm ready to roll up my sleeves and bring my vision (and healthy food options) to this neighborhood of neighborhoods."
“KalyANa Organics will now join the ranks of some of the world’s greatest startups located in the Near West Side, including iconic brands like Harley-Davidson and MillerCoors,” said Keith Stanley, executive director of NWSP. “We’re excited that Susie will be able to provide more food options to our residents and employees.”
“Susie Roberts is another great example of the talented and innovative entrepreneurs located in the central part of our city,” said Doug Gordon, president and chief executive officer of WaterStone Bank. “We are honored to support the Rev-Up MKE competition for a third year in a row and hope it inspires many more business owners to find success in the growing commercial corridors of the Near West Side.”
Triciclo Peru makes Peruvian empanadas, which husband-wife team Mario Diaz Herrera and Amy Narr sell around Milwaukee from a trailer on a tricycle. They met when Narr was serving in the Peace Corps in Peru. The company received $4,000 for its second place finish, as well as $1,000 for the Audience Choice award.
“We decided to open a food cart together because Mario realized Peruvian food was not really a commodity here and we wanted to change that,” Narr said.
“In Peru, the food is part of our culture, and we cook to conquer the hearts of others,” Diaz Herrera said. “That’s what we’re doing at Triciclo Peru. We’re winning over the hearts of Milwaukeeans by cooking Peruvian food for them.”
Seven finalists competed in the Rev-Up MKE competition. Prior to the live pitch, they were provided business training and consulting from industry professionals to prepare them for the event. The judges were Gordon; Daryl Hodnett, director-supplier diversity and inclusion at Advocate Aurora Health Care Inc.; Lisa McKay, owner of Lisa Kaye Catering LLC, which won the 2017 Rev-Up MKE competition; and Ray Seaver, founder and CEO of payroll and employee benefits startup Zizzl.
This is the third year NWSP has hosted Rev-Up MKE. In 2016, Pete’s Pops won the competition, recently completing its promise to open a retail shop on the near west side. And last year, Lisa Kaye Catering took the top prize. McKay plans to open a commercial kitchen on the near west side with the winnings.