Rangemark Wins 2014 Seed Project
Students, alumni, community leaders, and business men and women gathered in Brock Hall on April 29, 2014, for the fourth annual Seed Project Pitch Event. Four finalists competed for $10,000 in seed capital. A distinguished board of judges heard the four pitches and awarded the seed capital to Kathryn Allison ’13 and her hand-printing textile business, Rangemark.
Managed by Covenant’s Center for Calling & Career, the Seed Project seeks to foster and develop an entrepreneurial spirit among students at the College. The project provides students the opportunity to develop real ideas and put them into action.
All four finalists gave strong pitches at the event. The other finalists included Heather Cromartie ’14, who pitched her photography business, Heather Cromartie, LLC; Tera Davidson ’12 and Jordan Doctor ’13 representing their business, Mountaintop Maids; and Coulter Burch ’14 and Zach Wear ’14 and their business Vintage Voyagers, a vintage Airstream rental company.
This year’s Seed Project participants had the privilege of learning from alumnus Ryan Leestma ’00. Ryan studied business at Covenant and went on to found the successful IT company Information Systems Intelligence. Throughout the year, Ryan acted as a consultant and tutor for each of the Seed Project contestants, coaching them through new business concepts, providing insight on business plans, and sacrificing his time to meet with them at Covenant face to face.
“The coaching we received from Ryan Leestma was more valuable than money,” said Heather Cromartie ’14. “He offered a huge amount of business advice and in our one-on-one meetings it felt like I had my own private tutor and business advisor who challenged me and walked me through the process of starting a business. As someone who has never taken a business class before, it was invaluable.”
The seed capital panel at last Tuesday’s event included seven distinguished judges from as far away as Minnesota. The panel was comprised of Mike Bradshaw, executive director of the Company Lab; Stefanie Crowe, executive vice president and director of wealth services at Capital Mark Bank & Trust and co-founder of the Jump Fund; Chris Dodson, chair of the business department at Covenant College; Al Duke, co-founder and partner of Tenth Street Capital; Mark Griggs, local attorney and economics and entrepreneurship teacher at Chattanooga Christian School; Shelley Prevost, partner and director of happiness at the Lamp Post Group and co-founder of the Jump Fund; and alumnus Philip Vierling ’78, serial entrepreneur and president of Plumb Line Vision.
“What a privilege and a treat! The students are so inspiring,” said Stefanie Crowe. “This event was the highlight of my week.”
The judging panel was impressed with all of the pitches, but in the end awarded the seed money to Kathryn Allison’s business, Rangemark. Rangemark is a hand-printing textile company that produces home goods that are carefully crafted by hand, down to the unique patterns on each product. Kathryn’s family is full of artists and the name of her business comes from her great-grandfather’s painting studio, which was called Rangemark.
"The Seed Project is a wonderful resource for the Covenant community,” said Kathryn. “I am so thankful for the competition and the whole process. Working with our coach, Ryan Leestma, has pushed me in the past three months to have a greater vision for my business and a plan of how to get it there. Rangemark has come a long way already, but I know it is only the beginning. I am excited to be on this journey, especially with all of the support from Covenant and the resources they provide."
Alumni entrepreneurs, Enoch Elwell ’12 and Rebekah Marr ’04, offered all of the finalists free tuition at their business development program, Co.Starters, a program designed to help both established and fledgling businesses get their ideas moving and working. Seed Project winner Kathryn Allison is a graduate of Co.Starters.
“The 2014 Seed Project was a success by all measures,” said Anthony Tucker, director of the Center for Calling & Career. “Preparation before the Pitch Event was handled so well by Ryan Leestma, who volunteered his time and expertise to personally coach each participant through the planning and pitch development process. From a distinguished Seed Capital Panel came the terrific outcome of not only awarding the seed capital to Rangemark but also to offering Kathryn space in CoLab’s accelerator program and professional advice from Lamp Post Group for Mountaintop Maids. Once again, the process bore fruit for a new set of Scots entrepreneurs, and all four finalists are better equipped to boldly pursue these callings.”