McALLEN CHAMBER 2016 INNOVATION GRANT WINNERS

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As the definition states, Innovation Grants are designed to allow entrepreneurial pioneers to advance their groundbreaking ideas towards reality. Six individuals were chosen for the 2016 awards and it is a diverse group. From a bear’s arm as a gun case to an on-the-go golf tee carrier clip to foodstuffs to apps, here are the winners.

Loading Screen Studios: Brando Lugo
Winning a grant for equipment and office space, Loading Screen Studios is developing its first game, In the Year 2099. Alive with a brilliantly colored game screen, the gamers are designing it to be intuitive and customizable for the audience.

In fact, their research with locals at various events gave them what they needed to finish the app.

“After they gave us their feedback, we incorporated it into the game and were pleased we had listened,” Lugo said. “Ultimately the game became what they would want to buy.”

Able to customize products for every platform, they want to make games accessible to everyone.

Loading Screen Studios’ eventual goals are to keep the local programming talent in the Valley rather than having them move away, or having to out-source to someone out of the Valley.

Nuts and Cows: Elizabeth Davis
Davis has been a previous Innovation Grant winner and is thrilled to win again. Using the 2016 grant to make her products shelf ready, requirements include areas such as nutritional facts, barcodes, trademarks and shelf-life testing.

For the past three years her mouth-watering pecan products could be found at local farmer’s markets. Now she’s taking it up a notch.

“I’ve met a lot of people from around the country who would like to be able to order my products online,” Davis said. “I’ve been waiting for the right time to do it and now I’m preparing my eCommerce site.”

With her commercial kitchen, Mi Cocina by the Hour, her greatest pleasure and ongoing goal is to help other entrepreneurs get their products and businesses up and successfully running.

“I want to show people if I can do it, they can do it too.”

Ready-Tee: Silver Treviño JR.
An avid golfer, the idea of the tee carrier clip came to Treviño as he watched another golfer scouring the tee box for a tee, then asking other golfers around him for one, to no avail. He decided he could create something to carry tees to alleviate the frustration and loss of time spent looking for one.

“I first created one out of cardboard, then made a number of prototypes before I came up with the perfect one,” Treviño explained. “At that point I hired an engineer to do my prototype and together we finished the design.”

Having a Ready-Tee, a golfer can clip it to a belt, cap, or pants pocket and have three tees at all times.

“It allows the golfer more time to focus on his or her game,” he said.

Using the grant towards his patent and marketing, Treviño is proud that the product will be made here in the Valley.

Right to Bear Arms Gun Case: Mark Morris
Back in 2013, Morris was listening to the Right to Bear Arms argument. Playing around with words, a light bulb went off in his mind.

“God gave me this idea on word play,” he said.

Taking the idea literally and using the sewing abilities his grandmother taught him when he was nine years old, Morris will make Right to Bear Arms Gun Cases. Designed as the right arm of a bear, the paw alone takes him three hours to construct.
Morris is using his grant towards obtaining the mold from China. With his retirement a year away, he is looking forward to devoting all his time to this gift from God.

Upon completion, the case will be available in black, brown, gold, white and pink.

Rio Grande Mesquite, LLC: Victoria Cappadona
Cappadona was at her mother-in-law’s ranch in 2012 when she noticed mesquite trees full of mesquite beans and wondered how that could be with everything so dry. Told how the mesquite tree thrives in drought and their long history with native Americans and early pioneers, Victoria began her research.

Becoming an expert on mesquite beans and trees, Cappadona has developed her line of mesquite bean jelly (with or without chili pequin), mesquite bean flour, coffee, and tea.

Discovering the vast wealth of nutrition and medicinal value in the long, brown bean excited her even more.

“The mesquite bean is native and nutritious with strong history,” she said. “And, it’s got a fabulous taste.”

Selling out of products each year, Cappadona decided to take the steps to get it on the retail shelf. She’ll be using the grant for such things as nutritional studies, shelf life, and trademark application.

Transcend Alchemy: Claudio Fasci
For the past three years, Fasci has been operating Le Vegan Factory, a delivery only business offering organic plant based healthy desserts, superfood elixirs and juice cleanse programs.

“Three years ago I was certified as a wellness coach, and I learned all the nutritional benefits of whole foods and how to create the superfood elixirs and desserts,” he said.

A year ago, he created Transcend Alchemy whose main purpose is to nurture the human body and mind through the best organic coffee, superfood elixirs, desserts, nutritional supplements and other wellness products.

“We get all our ingredients and retail products from the most unique and superb sources in the world,” he said. “It’s like a healthy Starbucks.”

The plan is to launch the web store and open a brick and mortar location soon. The grant will go towards the company graphic design, web store and trademark application.mark application.