A social media platform for military bases to assist with relocations was awarded $10,000 during the annual Cherokee Strip Business Model Competition on Thursday.

“We’re super excited. We’re going to use this money for development, for private placement memorandum we’re working on for investors and just marketing and getting the word out,” BaseConnect co-founder Tony Weedn said.

Weedn said he has been working on BaseConnect for nearly four years. He is getting out of the military and will pursue it full time.

He met co-founder Chase Williams when he first was stationed at Vance Air Force Base. They started working together a little over a year ago, Weedn said.

The two also received up to a year’s rent at the James W. Strate Center for Business Development incubator at Autry Technology Center in Enid.

“We’re hoping to actually get accepted into the incubator and start growing the company even more from there,” Weedn said.

The purpose of the Cherokee Strip Business Model Competition is to encourage local businesses to grow in Enid and to get a head start, said Cara Evans, Autry Tech self-employment traine. It’s a joint effort for economic development with Enid Regional Developmental Alliance, Northern Oklahoma College, Northwestern Oklahoma State University and Enid Public Schools.

Open to any business less than five years old with plans to grow in the Enid trade area, the competition involves businesses submitting business plans and has three phases of judging, she said.

The first two phases are similar to presenting to a stakeholder, Evans said. Fourteen businesses were eligible, and the judges scored the business plans. From there, eight businesses were selected to do an oral pitch, and candidates were narrowed down to four.

The final phase of the competition involved the business demonstrating how it would approach the external audience.

“How would they let someone know what they do, why they do it and why they’re the best?” Evans said.

On Thursday, Monkey Wrench Plumbing placed second and was awarded $5,000, Clean Connections LLC placed third and was awarded $3,000 and Whiterock Resources placed fourth and was awarded $1,000. There also is a People’s Choice award, through which Monkey Wrench Plumbing was selected and awarded $1,000.

“If you look at a list of major employers in Enid, most of those started in somebody’s garage,” ERDA Executive Director Brent Kisling said. “It started with somebody that just had an idea.

“For a time, a long time in our community, we just kind of let entrepreneurship happen. We were supportive of it, but we really didn’t force the issue. Here over the last several years, we really tried to get aggressive in the area of helping folks like you, entrepreneurs who have a hair-brained idea of this new business that’s going to work in the community, we want to make sure you have all the tools available to make that happen.”

Story provided by:  Enid News & Eagle

Written by:  Jessica Miller