Regional Innovation Series: Hurricane Entrepreneur Wins InnovateHER Competition
TechConnectWV will begin to regularly feature stories of innovation and innovators from across our region. This article is the first in the series.
A Putnam County entrepreneur is the winner of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) local InnovateHER competition hosted by the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing (RCBI).
Mandy Curry of Hurricane edged out competitors from across West Virginia with her creation called Healthy Kids: an easy-to-use, customizable online meal planner that includes healthy recipes, video how-to’s and automatically generated shopping lists of ingredients.
“Healthy Kids Inc. began from our desire to transition to a healthier lifestyle,” the mother of two said. “For many years we were caught up in the ‘too busy’ lifestyle and found ourselves constantly eating out or eating frozen or microwave foods. We knew that our family deserved more; hence, the idea for Healthy Kids Inc. was born. We wanted to create a tool that made healthy eating fail proof for even the busiest of families.”
With the help of her husband, a master gardener, Curry is developing a new component that integrates gardening technology into the meal planner, enabling users to grow vegetables for use in their meal plans, offering guidance on what to grow in particular areas, how to grow and care for the plants, when to harvest and how to incorporate homegrown produce into meal plans.
As winner of the RCBI competition, Curry will advance to the national semifinal round of InnovateHER, from which at least 10 finalists will be chosen by SBA judges to compete in the March 2016 finals. Three of those finalist will win cash prizes of $10,000, $20,000 and $40,000.
RCBI Director & CEO Charlotte Weber praised Curry’s creative spirit. “Mandy Curry is the epitome of a true entrepreneur,” Weber said. “Rather than turn to others to solve a problem, she created her own solution, one that will help countless other families.”
RCBI is one of three West Virginia organizations chosen by the SBA to host a local InnovateHER competition. Similar events were staged this fall across the United State. “We’re honored to join with the SBA in identifying entrepreneurs whose creations have the potential to improve the lives of people across the country,” Weber said. “This endeavor proves that the spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and well.”
InnovateHER is a nationwide competition, now in its second year, that seeks to identify new products and services that have the potential to significantly impact the lives of women and families. Submissions are judged on three criteria: how they impact the lives of women and children; the potential for commercialization; and whether they fill a need in the marketplace.
For more information on InnovateHER, visit www.SBA.gov.