Rewarding the entrepreneurial spirit

Two years ago, the Council of Smaller Enterprises was looking for ways to stimulate entrepreneurship in the region, and the COSE Business Plan Challenge was born.

The success of the first Challenge was encouraging, so COSE revisited the idea for 2003 — with a few changes.

COSE upped the ante, hoping to encourage and support a wider range of entrepreneurs, so it added three categories — technology, manufacturing and arts. The total amount in cash awards was increased from $100,000 to $179,000, allowing COSE to increase the category-winner prize amount and add a $3,000 prize for the runner-up in each category.

Winners were announced at the COSE Annual Meeting and Business Plan Challenge Awards Ceremony Dec. 9. The eight winning entries cover a diverse range of Northeast Ohio’s industry and talent.

Best of Show, start-up

Synapse Biomedical Ltd., Oberlin — This start-up company is hoping to conduct clinical studies in 2005 and bring its product — a minimally invasive chronic diaphragm pacing system — to market by 2007. The company’s innovative device is helping actor Christopher Reeve and others breathe easier by electronically restoring normal signals to the brain.


Cavanaugh Photography, Parma — A photography company that specializes in offering a studio-quality experience on location. Cavanaugh Photography is a one year-old photography studio with a unique concept, state-of-the-art equipment and Internet savvy.

Minority Business Enterprise

S&A Consulting Group LLP, Cleveland — A consulting firm that brings its clients into the global economy with counsel on financing, information technology, management, marketing and business planning.

Female Business Enterprise

The Littlest Heroes, Chesterland — A social services agency providing for the needs of families of children undergoing cancer treatment, from meal preparation to wheelchair ramps.


Rutledge Insurance Agency, Cleveland — An independent insurance agency that plans to introduce tax preparation services to its repertoire. The agency experienced tremendous growth when it relocated to Cleveland’s Buckeye neighborhood from a suburban office building — and it’s still growing.


iACTIV, Cleveland — A manufacturer that finds new and improved uses for already-established technologies. iACTIV is incorporating high-tech innovations to serve traditional industries such as aerospace and drug production.

30 & Under

Stack LLC, Cleveland — An online publication that gives expert advice on proper conditioning and nutrition for the still-developing bodies of young athletes. The company hopes to branch out and introduce a print version as well.


Stanton Advanced Ceramics LLC, Cleveland — A patent-pending ceramic matrix composite with the potential to last up to 20 times longer than traditional ceramics. By innovating ceramics used in the production process, Stanton Advanced Ceramics is working to save time and money for steel, aluminum, quartz and glass manufacturing.

Each of the category winners was awarded $15,000, and the Best of Show winner received an additional $35,000 ($50,000 total). Category winners also will receive a range of valuable business support services, including business technology consultation, cellular phone service and financial planning.

In addition, eight companies received $3,000 as Second Place Category Award winners. They are AQUI Systems Inc., Technology; ACE for the Cure Hole in One Monitoring Systems, Start-up; Cam-Lem Inc., Manufacturing; Etactics Inc., Innovation/Growth; Faithful Companions Inc., Female Business Enterprise; The Spiritual Spa, Minority Business Enterprise; Zolten Wood Design, Arts; Blue Moose Co. Inc., 30 & Under. How to reach: COSE,