Pitch Challenge Ready to Award Cash Prizes

Opportunities to win some startup cash and hone business skills are coming to Salina again this Friday for the 3rd Annual Charlie Walker Pitch Challenge at K-State University-Salina.

According to the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce, the Challenge is open to start-up businesses as well as young businesses who have been operating for three years or less and offers an opportunity to win up to $6,000 in cash prizes. Last year’s event gave out $18,000 in prizes to the five top place finishers.

According to Renee Duxler, CEO & President of the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce – the clock will be ticking as local entrepreneurs step on the stage to give their best pitch.



One of 2023’s top prize winners, Salina Selfie Station, has utilized their funding to purchase a mobile photo booth and other equipment to kick-start their business. “Being a part of the Charlie Walker Pitch Challenge helped us shape our vision and business strategy.” Genell Heimer, co-owner of Salina Selfie Station, said, “We networked within the community and made friends with the other competitors. We are still cheering on each other’s business successes a year later!”

This year’s event is again presented by Bennington State Bank and JRI Hospitality and offers cash prizes for the top five finishers: $6,000 for 1st place, $4,000 for 2nd place, $3,000 for 3rd place, $2,000 for 4th place, and $1,000 for 5th place. Other sponsors include Network Kansas and VentureDash.

The Entrepreneurial Challenge is named in honor of the iconic Salina businessman, Charlie Walker, who founded several companies, largest among them Salina-based Blue Beacon International (known for its truck and RV washes), and the Rolling Hills Zoo near Hedville. Walker died in 2012, but his family has continued his commitment by spearheading several civic causes in the Salina community.

“We have some generous business owners in this community who are eager and interested in supporting the next generation of small business for the area,” Renee Duxler, CEO & President of the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce said, “This event has evolved from a group of them, to include the Walker Family, wanting to encourage entrepreneurship in a fun and educational way. This pitch competition really does achieve that.”

The event is this Friday evening at the K-State Salina College Center Conference Room. Entrepreneurs arrive at 5:30pm, and the competition begins at 6:00pm