Our Finalists & Judges

Our Finalists:


Eric Mata, Substance Abuse Prevention Institute
Roark Thompson, PIPE AG
Carlos Portis, Inveloped Cards
Abi Gerstle, Rock Climbing Gym concept
Heather Mercuri, GLAM on the Go, LLC
Jon Francis, Bike Store concept
Tammy Hrosch, Bows & Blooms Designs
Megan Ballard Kirby, Skin Deeper
James Oswald, Aero Imaging Solutions
Melanie Barrett, Bailey Bug LLC

Meet the Judges:


Jason Duff

Jason Duff is the founder of Small Nation, which encompasses a group of companies, leaders and investors who develop places, spaces, and dreams for small towns and small town entrepreneurs across the county. Jason and his team at Small Nation have completely revitalized the town of Bellefontaine, Ohio. In a short 7 years they have turned a dying town and helped make it a Best-In-State destination.

Jason serves on Small Business Advisory Council for the US Chamber, is a regular contributor to Forbes, Entrepreneur & Inc Magazine, and has been recognized by the White House as Top100 Entrepreneurs in 2013 & 2015, and was just recently named the Heritage Ohio’s 2019 Young Preservationist of the Year.

Lauren Tiffan

As a Miami University alumna, Lauren lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her true passion lies in working with entrepreneurs, running accelerators, serving on the board of Aruna Project–an anti-trafficking organization, and glorifying God along the way.

Previously, Lauren has created her own startup, worked in startups, worked for startups as a consultant, and run an accelerator. She is currently creating and managing Air Force SBIR programming, including the T3 Accelerator, with The Entrepreneurs Center.

Matt Davis

Matt is the co-founder and CEO of COhatch, a startup born in 2016 that has quickly grown to 12 locations in the Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati, Springfield, and Indianapolis markets. COhatch is a new kind of work and social space.

Matt is also an active investor in small businesses, serving as a Partner in Mesh Fitness and Bubble’s Tea and Juice Company.