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Gauntlet Competition honors youngest entrepreneur yet

Published: May. 26, 2022 at 11:24 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Local entrepreneurs celebrated weeks of mentorship and competition after participating in The Gauntlet Business Program and Competition.

The 8th Annual Gauntlet Graduation and Awards Ceremony featured entrepreneurs and their friends and family at the Vinton War Memorial Wednesday night.

The program was created by the Advancement Foundation to help with economic development in the Roanoke Valley. This year’s businesses included everything from event venues to innovate poultry incubation products.

Anyone can participate. Just ask the program’s youngest entrepreneur, who started a t-shirt business with his dad at just 6 years old to help raise money to support children in foster care. Graham Fitzgerald created GK’s Dream with his dad, using the mysterious phrase “What’s Up with the F.O.M.” to entice patrons to buy a series of seven shirts to reveal the phrase’s meaning. For other kids with dreams to start a business, he offers this advice:

”Come up with your own saying!” he said, with dad Michael Fitzgerald adding, “And go for it, right? Don’t let people stop you. Even the silly ideas can end up being a good idea.”

According to the Advancement Foundation, 153 entrepreneurs participated in this year program and nearly $300,000 was awarded to help grow their ideas.

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