In July, Flavors Culinary Group founder Samia Bingham won the Small Biz Challenge in Los Angeles by wowing Shark Tank's Robert Herjavec with an improvised pitch using a slide deck she'd never seen before. "Samia didn't have a single 'um' in that pitch," says Herjavec, who judged the contest, which was hosted by Inc. and the UPS Store. Below, six quick facts about our contest winner.
1. The Fort Washington, Maryland-based entrepreneur entered the competition to raise money for Flavors Culinary Group, the food-startup incubator she hopes will become, in her words, the "WeWork of kitchen spaces."
2. Awarding a total of $25,000, the contest pitted Bingham against two other founders--of music therapy provider Maine Music & Health and landscape planner Garden in Minutes--in five timed trials of entrepreneurial skill.
3. While big names like WeWork and the Wing have taken co-working spaces prime time, a champion brand has yet to emerge from the kitchen and food incubators servicing the $140 billion specialty foods industry.
4. When Bingham launched her startup, landlords were reluctant to convert their properties into commercial kitchens for what they thought was a fad. So she focused on running a co-working space where food startups could work on administrative tasks like ordering and payroll.
5. "Co-working isn't enough," Bingham says. With a background in government bid consulting, Bingham has been helping her food startup clients secure contracts, negotiate distribution deals, and enhance their reputations with culinary media.
6. Bingham will use the $14,000 she won to secure the property, permits, and equipment she needs to finally build a kitchen space for her food startups to rent, and to bring all of her services under one roof.