Hoosier Entrepreneurs in National Pitch Competition

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Marna Pacheco (left) and Susan Hickock co-founded CapeAble Sensory Products. Marna Pacheco (left) and Susan Hickock co-founded CapeAble Sensory Products.

Two Hoosier entrepreneurs will Thursday compete in the finals of the national InnovateHER Business Challenge in Washington D.C. Marna Pacheco and Susan Hickok, co-founders of Fort Wayne-based CapeAble Sensory Products LLC, will take part in the National Pitch Competition, which will award $70,000 in prize money.

CapeAble Sensory Products produces weighted blankets for better sleep, fashionable weighted wearables, and sensory-enrichment tools. The company won the regional InnovateHER competition in April and was one of 10 finalists chosen by an executive committee comprised of officials from the U.S. Small Business Administration. 

In 2015, Pacheco and Hickok talked with Inside INdiana Business Reporter Kylie Veleta about the genesis of the company.

The pair will make their pitch to a panel of eight judges. First place will receive a $40,000 cash prize. Second place will be awarded $20,000 and third place will earn $10,000. You can view the full list of finalists by clicking here.

The Northeast Indiana Small Business Development Center says the owners have worked with a variety of local resources, including the Fort Wayne Chapter of SCORE, to refine their business model and obtain financing for their company. Pacheco and Hickok are being sponsored by six local organizations to make the trip to Washington D.C. for the competition.

"We feel fortunate that our business is located in Northeast Indiana," said Hickok. "The variety of available resources, and the willingness of the local business community to come along side us, have been invaluable in developing and growing our business."

Last month, CapeAble was named the Outstanding Innovative Business of 2017 at the national SCORE Awards gala in Virginia. 

“This is a tremendous achievement for CapeAble," said Steve Rinehart, chair of the local InnovateHER committee and a mentor with the Fort Wayne Chapter of SCORE. "To me, Marna and Susan are excellent role models for any entrepreneur, as they have sacrificed much and fought long and hard through adversity to bring this level of success to their company and their dreams. The awards and recognition are more than well deserved."

You can learn more about the InnovateHER Business Challenge by clicking here.

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