OURgrain wins food business plan competition

SPENT GRAIN: OurGrain is a startup that reuses grain from beer-making to create other products, such as bagel bites and cookies. The company was awarded first place in an inaugural food business plan competition sponsored by NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley. Co-founders from left: (rear) ­Victor Eng and Sam Burges, (front) ­Samantha Gannon, Nicole Gresko and Natasha B. Daniels. / PBN FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO
SPENT GRAIN: OurGrain is a startup that reuses grain from beer-making to create flour and other products, such as bagel bites and cookies. The company was awarded first place in the inaugural Food Business Plan Competition at Millrace Kitchen. Co-founders from left: (rear) ­Victor Eng and Sam Burges, (front) ­Samantha Gannon, Nicole Gresko and Natasha B. Daniels. / PBN FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO

WOONSOCKET – OURgrain, a firm that turns beer brewers’ spent grain into flour, beat out four other budding food production companies to win the inaugural Food Business Plan Competition held Tuesday evening at Millrace Kitchen in Woonsocket, sponsored by NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley.

For first place, OURgrain took home a $100 Visa gift card from Dean Bank. Second place was awarded to the “Ish” Food Truck and Guido’s Food Concession Stand took third.

Pitching their business plans to a panel of judges including representatives from Millrace Kitchen, Dean Bank, the R.I. Small Business Development Corp. and Pilotworks Providence were five local entrepreneurs:

  • Patrick M. Beck of New England Grass Fed was one of five entrants in the inaugural Millrace kitchen business competition hosted by NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley. / COURTESY NEIGHBORWORKS BLACKSTONE RIVER VALLEY

    Nicole Gresko representing OURgrain, a MassChallenge Finalist company

  • Patrick M. Beck from New England Grass Fed producing 100 percent grass-fed beef jerky and summer sausage grazing sticks
  • Stephanie Richardson representing the “Ish” Food Truck serving Polish and Jewish fare
  • Wayne O’Brien from Guido’s Food Concessions, a firm which prepares healthy food options for fairs
  • Jesse Jackson III representing Fedora Doughnuts, a specialty doughnut company

Each of the five entrants will receive written feedback on their business plan.

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Calling each of the entrants “entirely viable,” in a statement, Dennis McCarthy, northern Rhode Island director of the SBDC, said the competition was “very close.”

Tamara Burman, NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley health, business and culture activator, said in prepared remarks she was “excited” by the success of the inaugural business plan competition.

Jesse Jackson III of Fedora Doughnuts was one of five entrants in the inaugural Millrace Kitchen business plan competition hosted by NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley. / COURTESY NEIGHBORWORKS BLACKSTONE RIVER VALLEY
Jesse Jackson III of Fedora Doughnuts was one of five entrants in the inaugural Millrace Kitchen business plan competition hosted by NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley. / COURTESY NEIGHBORWORKS BLACKSTONE RIVER VALLEY

“I believe it will continue to grow every year and continue to develop our robust food and innovative small business community right here in Woonsocket,” Burman added in her statement.

NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley, formerly The Woonsocket Neighborhood Development Corporation, is a nonprofit community development corporation which has worked with residents, businesses and communities since 1987 to enrich neighborhood life and make affordable housing opportunities available throughout Northern Rhode Island.

Emily Gowdey-Backus is a staff writer for PBN. You can follow her on Twitter @FlashGowdey or contact her via email, gowdey-backus@pbn.com.