GAUNTLET Business Program & Competition

The GAUNTLET is Virginia’s LARGEST business program and competition!

The GAUNTLET is a comprehensive business development program. Entrepreneurs participate in weekly business training sessions, meet and network with successful entrepreneurs, fellow Gauntlet participants, mentors, and develop business strategies that provide a roadmap to success. This year’s cohort is a mix of Main Street and High Growth businesses that will be starting or expanding in Alleghany Highlands, Botetourt County, Roanoke City, Roanoke County, and/or the City of Salem.

At the 5th Annual GAUNTLET Award Ceremony, over $330,000.00 of cash and in-kind prizes were awarded to these businesses!

Special thanks to all of our Sponsors for their continuous support and enthusiasm for the GAUNTLET!

Meet the 2019 GAUNTLET Competitors!

Academics Accelerated, Fit Learning

At Academics Accelerated we end the worries about getting good grades and getting into the best colleges. We provide a personalized learning program that accelerates the competency level of every individual to ensure they are performing at their grade level and beyond. We know that by focusing data on the behaviors of learning, on intervention strategies and on reinforcement, the advancement in a learners skills can be increased by 1-2 years in only 8 weeks of instruction. Our data consistently proves this. Let us end the worries. Let us help your child in reading, math, logic, penmanship, college prep and more. 

Advanced Racking

Advanced Racking is a young company well positioned to take advantage of the continued growth of the solar industry. The company has been contract manufacturing mounting systems for Photovoltaics (solar) for the past 4 years. The main strategic objective in 2019 is to launch a Mexican entity to manufacture, increase our steel capabilities through a partnership, and accelerate penetration of the fast-growing Latin American market.

Art Squared

Art Squared provides the only rentable work and retail space for artists in the city of Covington. Giving the community an opportunity to connect with, learn from, and support local creators as well as drawing people into the downtown area. Cultivating and maintaining an atmosphere of creativity to help artists stay inspired and motivated. Art Squared values every ounce of passion it sees in our community and strives to help each ounce thrive! Our main goal is to become “the HUB” for interactive and proactive arts in our community.

Blink Optometry

Do you ever dread getting your eyes examined due to uncomfortable procedures? Approach your eye exams with a different lens! Blink Optometry has been created with your comfort and time in mind. At Blink Optometry, you will be examined by Dr. Stewart who has been acknowledged for “Best Bedside Manner” several times in the Roanoke Valley. The latest technology in eye care will make your eye exam comfortable and more efficient.

Blue Gate Films

Blue Gate Films is a cinematic film production company that educates , motivates and inspires audiences of all kinds . From feature and short films to youtube content and documentaries Blue Gate Films creates visual experiences. Along with providing authentic creative input we also collaborate with individuals with a vision of there own. The future awaits us , so let us plan to create something that will greatly connect with people many generations from now.

Blue Ridge Misting Systems

What is the number one negative thought that comes to mind when thinking of a summertime outdoor event? THE HEAT! Blue Ridge Misting Systems provides a wide variety of services that help mitigate the effects of the heat and make your summertime event more enjoyable. We offer cooling mist systems for both sale and rental. We can offer trailers, individual fan units, patio misting installations and permanent structures for venues that need the service regularly. Feel free to e-mail us

BoCo Cares

BoCo CARES is a wellness cooperative serving those working and residing in Botetourt County, Virginia. Membership subscribers develop their own art and music therapy resources while their financial support brings Mental Health First Aid and Suicide Awareness and Prevention Advocacy to any citizen at-need for support. Our association is formed of large sponsors, small-business owners, and residents of Botetourt County.

Born Again Custom Woodworks

My name is Wayne Lamb, owner of Born Again Custom Woodworks. Pat Harrison has been and continues to be a needed asset for this business because of his gifts in sales and all of his years of experience. Born Again Custom Woodworks manufactures quality custom made furniture from reclaimed wood and live edge slabs.

Caffe’ Museo, Museum of Antique Coffee Mills

I’m Judith. My husband, Stephen, and I have collected antique coffee grinders for 30 years. With mills dating from 1690 to 1960 we are creating the Caffe’ Museo, a Museum of Antique Coffee Mills. Neighbors and visitors to our small town of Clifton Forge are invited to tour the museum and learn about these machines and coffee’s place in history, free of charge.

Celebration Depot

Let’s be honest, hosting a party at home can be STRESSFUL! The reality is that most people struggle with finding the perfect place that will entertain and provide the space needed to accommodate their needs. My name is Michele Nicely, founder of Celebration Depot. My passion is to open a gaming and party center for the Alleghany Highlands community. Celebration Depot will be the only gaming room in the area with 6 televisions, a variety of gaming consoles, air hockey, arcade basketball, and much more.

Clean Valley Council

Do you hate seeing used plastic bags stuck in the trees? Cigarette butts being thrown out the window? Clean Valley Council is on a mission to change these behaviors through hands-on education & on-going clean up efforts. Passionate volunteers collected over 74 TONS of trash last year! Our goal is reach educate and inspire those around us to live and work for a sustainable tomorrow.

Crooked Mountain Kombucha

Crooked Road Kombucha brews fermented tea, known as kombucha, which contains antioxidants and probiotics for a healthy gut that lets everyone lead healthier, happier lives.

Downshift Outfitters

Do you remember what it was like to ride a bike for the first time? The adventure, the excitement! Let Downshift Outfitters help you experience that all over again by riding an e-mountain bike along the freshly built trails in Roanoke’s Explore Park.

Dr. Auto Spa

Doesn’t it feel great to drive a clean and shiny car? There’s just something about that fresh and clean interior smell and that deep-shiny paint that keeps us excited to drive our cars doesn’t it! At DrAutoSpa, our motto is, “You like it clean; We like it dirty!” DrAutoSpa offers convenient and affordable auto wash and detailing services to keep your car looking it’s best all year long!


Dumplestiltskins is going to be an industry shaking, game changing food truck experience that builds a community around our eco-conscious laid back style! With our fairytale theme and elevated culinary techniques we will create an all ages, out of this world roadside gourmet experience! Our mission is to provide a low-cost, high-quality, meal in a timely manner. Having a laid back vibe that appeals to many demographics, rooted in our love of good food and good times; we will surpass all of our guest’s expectations of what a food truck is.

East Coast Cannalytics

East Coast Cannalytics LLC is an analytical testing lab aimed at supporting and ensuring safety in the rapidly growing hemp industry in Virginia and the surrounding regions. The concentration of THC in a sample from a farmer’s hemp crop is analyzed to ensure they are below the 0.3% maximum level, as defined in the Federal Farm Bill. As well, potency levels for CBD and other valuable cannabinoids can be analyzed for farmers and hemp processors to determine the quality and value of their hemp or hemp derived products.


EasyWorkings applies AI-based Advanced Analytics to assist manufacturers to improve their process control. EasyWorkings Universal Self-learning Softsensor can take data from various processes, for example, known relationship of Fahrenheit-to–Celsius conversion, unknown relationship of a company’s stock price with its yesterday’s price, and unknown relationship of a process target with its possible causes, etc.; whereas current predictive models can only self-learn a specific process, such as Google AlphaGo plays Go cannot play Chess.


FAVE is on a mission to break barriers, reduce risks, and to enhance safe and valuable inclusive experiences for families impacted by Autism, Alzheimer’s, Down Syndrome, or other communication and cognitive impairments (AKA All Abilities). FAVE’s Inclusion Advisors provide training, consultation, and accessible technology solutions to support businesses, organizations, healthcare, and government agencies to meet the needs of families who are living in or visiting our community.

Formable Grabber

My name is Nick Morgan with Formable Grabber. We have developed the first major change in the traditional mechanic’s grabber in 61 years as well as the first major change in auto unlocking tools in 21 years. Our patent pending Formable technology has thousands of other uses in industrial applications as well as the home and garage, everyone has a use for our products, you just don’t know it yet!

Honeycomb Grove

My name’s Steve Redden. I have been making mead at home for almost ten years while working as a brewmaster in a microbrewery, on the canning line at a much larger brewery, and as a landscaper and viticulturalist in training at an estate winery and vineyard. The next step in my career development is to create my own meadery that focuses on honeybee conservation through mead production and garden growth. Alleghany County is the perfect place for my distribution efforts and for its incredible scenery; I can’t wait to get started!

InStead Marking

As a Consultant with expertise in the areas of Event, Experiential and Sports Marketing, I advise corporations in the process of writing and executing concepts with the intent to further engage employees, consumers, fans or media.

IVO Limited

You know that sinking feeling of the “Low Battery” symbol coming up during a phone call. Stopping to charge is the greatest issue today holding back mobile technology for devices such as cellphones, laptops, drones and even electric vehicles.

Jasmine Beane, LLC

Jasmine Beane is a Roanoke-based artist with a diverse artistic background including fashion design and photography. Beane received a Bachelor of Science in Studio Art with minor in Design Appreciation (Fashion Emphasis) from Radford University in 2015.


JFIT’s mission is to provide a functional approach to fitness that is creative, inclusive and empowering for older adults and women. The goal is to redefine strength for older adults and women by taking up exercises that challenge stereotypes about their strength. Ultimately JFIT will strengthen as many minds as possible by teaching that fitness is a byproduct of self-confidence.

Keely Massie Photography

I am a personal brand photographer who helps entrepreneurs, businesses, and organizations cultivate connection with their clients and customers through creating custom, stand-out photos for their social media, websites, and other digital platforms and marketing. I use the power of visual storytelling to showcase their product or service, engage their audience, and ultimately build trust in their brand.

La Michoacana

Everybody has been in an ice cream parlor or ice cream shop before. But tell me, who of you have been to a paleteria? Who knows what a “paleteria” is? My name is Guadalupe Torres, owner of La Michoacana, and we are the first paleteria (that means popsicle shop ) here in Roanoke. We count with more than 50 flavors on popsicles including tequila, avocado, cheese and all flavors you can imagine. But that’s not all, we have ice cream as well. We have the ice cream flavor called “angel kiss” that only my popsicle shop and 3 other paleterias in the United States and Mexico have.

Loz Analytics

Loz Analytics provides exacting and precise automation solutions that reduce cost and human error, while freeing people up to focus on what they do best – solve problems.

Michel’s Pizzeria

Michel’s Pizzeria will offer a select menu to include wood fire pizza, calzones, and appetizers. The focus being on quality food and customer service. Michel’s will offer dine in, take out, and deliver. Unique to Michel’s is it will be adjoined to Bacova Beer Company, providing those customers with a food option.

Mike and Mo’s

We are Mike and Mo’s, a future restaurant and entertainment venue in Salem, VA. We are providing a family friendly, low cost entertainment venue that specializes in atmosphere and relationship. Our mission is to help consumers put down their phones and enjoy quality, entertaining time together to foster relationships within their personal lives and community while socializing and making lasting connections. Our core focus is unique entertainment and a variety of options!

Mobile Unit Massage

Ever wish you could be like a computer? “Reboot” at the end of a long day? You’d like to get a massage, but don’t have the time, transportation , or effort to spend on getting to a parlor. With Mobile Unit Massage, those worries will no longer be an issue. With one quick call, you can set up an appointment, and the massage will come to you! Mobile Unit Massage offers a relaxed, stress free environment that you can walk into without worry about the state of your home or the standard “business” atmosphere.

Olde Town Diner

Restaurant serving quality, fresh southern food where there are no strangers only friends who’ve not yet met.

Outdoor Empowerment Coalition

At Outdoor ECo, it is our mission to facilitate equity and accessibility in the outdoors by providing leadership training and field support to leaders of underserved populations, offering low or no-cost educational classes and workshop opportunities, and empowering the community through service-learning and stewardship events. Outdoor ECo is committed to addressing barriers that prevent access in order to diversify participation in outdoor recreation and serve communities across the Greater Roanoke Valley.


It is well known that substance abuse (including the use of pain medications like Opioids) is a growing public health epidemic. I am Carolina Smales, a chemical engineer and the founder of PERSUNALITY, a company that offers innovative solutions. We are developing a fun and interactive game to empower children to avoid risky behaviors. Our game JOI Neuron uses science, art and technology to create a forever-lasting memory that will encourage better decisions in the future and save many lives.

Queen’s Vegan Cafe

We are catering company that specializes in delicious vegan cuisine and bringing L.Y.F.! Love Youth & Flavor! Vegan made with Love and a lil soul. No Soy or GMOs! I provide the flavor!

Quest Knight Enterprises

QKE provides unmanned systems services and products using an adjustable, plug and play, open integrated enterprise architecture framework featuring latest proven technology for data planning, collection, processing ,analysis, exploitation and dissemination of data featuring a variety of end products supporting smart decision making.

Revival Clothing Company

We provide Virginia with original clothing and apparel for anyone who believes in hard work, faith, family and believing that no matter what obstacles you’ve faced in your life you can have a Revival in your life and we’re here to help.

Roanoke Neuromuscular

Terry Kahn believes that clearing pain is her life’s calling. She attended massage school after feeling burnout in her software development career, subsequently learned Neuromuscular Therapy, and saw how effective it could be in clearing her clients’ aches and pains. She learned many additional massage techniques as well, combining them into her own unique style. Terry later earned a doctorate in physical therapy, driven by a deep curiosity of how the body works, so she would be able to help with more complex types of pain. She recently re-opened her Neuromuscular Therapy practice, offering specialized massage for clearing pain.

Roanoke Rags

Roanoke Rags is a slow fashion company reinventing denim, an American favorite. Denim Jackets are inspired by Art Deco, and specially handcrafted from premium denim. The company offers a line of women’s jackets, made here in the Blue Ridge. These are not your boyfriend jackets and complement the average woman’s figure — Size 12+. They also have unique embellishments. Bespoke jackets can be ordered in hemp denim. Other products are anticipated in the future.

Roller skating rinks attract 33 million visitors each year, and until now, recreational skaters have not had a consumer interest magazine/website that offers practical advice, features accomplished skaters, and showcases the latest equipment — Introducing Advertisers can now reach their core consumer directly.

Sonny Side Cafe

Sonny Side Café is a foodservice operation that aims to serve people and other restaurants quality food at competitive pricing. We strive to make everything with passion and attention to detail to create an exceptional product that stands out from its competitors.

Tea Total

Tea Total seeks to promote health, vitality, and community while raising revelry around terrific teas and top-notch toasts. We will be serving crafty tea mocktails and other snazzy tea oriented beverages alongside wholesome toasts. So much of socialization and celebration is centered around alcohol, Tea Total will provide our community a healthy and vitalizing alternative.

The Foundry

We champion two simple and important ideas. First, all people deserve the opportunity to grow into healthy, independent, and engaged citizens. Second, collaboratively we all have the responsibility to ensure that opportunity prevails.

The Harvest Collective

The Harvest Collective is a food scrap collection and compost creation business helping farmers to boost organic fertility and families to create local ecological resources.

The Salad Factory

Hi My Name is Michelle Barklow. When my family moved to Virginia from Florida we noticed a lack of healthy options. We wanted to fill that gap by bringing healthy choices and great flavors together. So we opened The Salad Factory.

The VR Center

With the increasing demand of Esport gaming, we want to open a larger location to be the premier gaming center in SW Virginia.The esports industry is expected to eclipse $1 billion by 2020, and global viewership, already approaches 500 million people annually. We have a scoring algorithm that put players in front of thousands of colleges recruiters, pro scouts, and teams seeking players to hopefully join the ranks of professional esports stars.

Thrive By Heart

As your soul to goal guide, I empower you to prioritize your life based on what matters most to you so you can experience more passion and purpose. By aligning your heart, head and hands, you can live authentically and bring who you are to all you do. I help you release past limiting beliefs so you can make conscious choices today to create the future you desire. Workshops and individual mentoring are designed to support you in creating a life you love.

Tom’s Cables

We provide custom audio cables for discontinued and current home audio systems. Whether you broke it, lost it, or just need it longer we are here to help.

Valley Cryotherapy

Do you know someone who is an athlete looking for an edge or do you know someone who is suffering from chronic pain? If so, then let me tell you about a new and unique service now available in Roanoke. Whole Body Cryotherapy exposes the body to -220 degrees for three minutes. This produces a decrease in pain and inflammation while increasing the metabolism and releasing endorphins. The release of endorphins produces a feeling of well-being.

Verns Trucking Company

Vernz Trucking Company setting the stage for success by redefining the road, offering world class customer deliveries with small town customer care with a smile.

Why Knot Boat with Us

We provide a stress free worry free environment that allows our guests to sit back and relax and enjoy the smiles and memories being made. We also provide excellent and unique client appreciation and team building opportunities for local businesses.