Issaquah-based Combat Flip Flops competed against more than 60 Puget Sound companies for Kitsap Bank’s edg3 FUND, finishing in the top five.
The edg3 FUND competition offers a $20,000 cash prize for one select small business with big ideas. The competition aims to “provide funding for entrepreneurs dedicated to growing our community economically, socially, and environmentally” according to the bank’s website.
In order to trim competitors from 60 to five, the selection process began earlier this year. Sixteen semi-finalists were chosen by a panel of judges in August and a public vote helped determine the five finalists.
“We have a complicated story, so the five-minute limit was a tight timeline,” said Matthew Griffin, founder and operator of Combat Flip Flops. “We highlighted who we are and how we’ve used our business to solve problems in conflict areas—focusing on the increase in contributions between 2014 and 2015.”
During Griffin’s pitch, he presented the company’s idea for compostable flip flops.
“We identified the problem of waste in the disposable flip flop market, a solution to the problem, and our requirement for the grant funding to create prototype compostable flip flops to take to the market,” Griffin said.
In the final round of selection, Combat Flip Flops faced four other companies including OlyKraut, LLC from Olympia, Purpose Boutique from Bremerton, The Smithshyre from Poulsbo, and Community Supported Biocycling from Seattle.
Each of the five companies presented their companies to a panel of three independent judges and a live audience. After a thirty-minute deliberation period, OlyKraut was awarded the grand prize.
“After the first three presenters, it was obvious that the judges would have a hard time picking a winner—and we wouldn’t mind coming in second to any of them,” Griffin said. “This was OlyKrauts second year as finalists and they obviously used the lessons learned from last year to give an outstanding presentation.”
Griffin intends to follow OlyKrauts example, he says Combat Flip Flops will definitely be back next year.
“Kitsap Bank was amazing throughout the entire process and helped market our business from start to finish,” he said. “They run a great organization and we’d love to work with them in the future.”