Southeast’s Missouri Innovation Corporation Announces LaunchU Pitch Competition Winner


(left to right) Gabrielle Penca and Keith Huggins, of Southeast’s Missouri Innovation Corporation; Becky Brown, of Cakes Reanimated; and Zach Fayette, Matt Drake and Gordon Waller, of First State Bank and Trust Company, Inc.

The Missouri Innovation Corporation (MIC) at Southeast Missouri State University and First State Bank and Trust Company, Inc. presented a $500 cash prize of a startup assistance package to Becky Brown of Cakes Reanimated for winning the pitch competition component of the LaunchU entrepreneurship training course recently held at Southeast’s Sikeston regional campus.

“The LaunchU class was a great experience to further my business,” said Brown, owner of Cakes Reanimated. “It has already opened the doors to numerous business opportunities in the area. I’m really excited to see what the future will bring.”

LaunchU is a six-week hands-on course that coaches aspiring entrepreneurs and startups through the business planning process to determine business feasibility, including the actual development of a professional, Small Business Administration approved, business plan, pitch and financial forecast. At the end of the cohort, seven of the class participants competed in front of a judging panel comprised of local business professionals.

“The pitch competition was the culmination of all the hard work LaunchU participants put in over the last six weeks they spent developing feasibility plans,” said Gabrielle Penca, project coordinator for the MIC. “It was amazing to watch the evolution of each business concept from the first night of class to the pitch competition where each entrepreneur displayed the confidence and acumen they’ll need to impress potential investors, lenders and partners. The Missouri Innovation Corporation is here to provide continued support for Becky and all participants as they begin to launch or expand their businesses.”

The prize was a package valued at $6,225, including $500 from the class sponsor First State Bank and Trust Company, Inc. and pro bono services provided by BOLD Marketing and Cory C. Fitzgerald, a certified public accountant.

“First State Bank and Trust is dedicated to helping our communities grow and succeed,” said Matt Drake, community bank president. “We understand the value of small businesses in rural Missouri and are a proud supporter of initiatives that help develop entrepreneurs.”

Future LaunchU classes, dates and times are being developed for the Cape Girardeau and Poplar Bluff communities. Interested participants and sponsors are asked to contact Gabrielle Penca at (573) 651-5095 or

For more information about Brown and Cakes Reanimated, visit

About the Missouri Innovation Corporation

 The Missouri Innovation Corporation is one of 10 state-supported innovation centers across Missouri, and is located within Southeast’s Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The MIC is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering business and community development to create new, high-value jobs and positive economic benefits for the University and the region. For more information about the MIC and the entrepreneurial support services it offers, contact (573) 651-2929 or visit

About InnovateU

InnovateU is the national provider of LaunchU and other practical training courses that empower those with entrepreneurial dreams to move forward confidently with the knowledge, tools, and networks needed to be successful in business. Since 2006 when the program was known as Operation JumpStart, over 150 program affiliates nationwide have trained more than 8,000 participants through partnerships with the Kauffman Foundation, Delta Regional Authority, and Missouri Innovation Corporation at Southeast Missouri State University. For more information about InnovateU training courses, visit