By Scott Hathcock, president and CEO at Moonshot at NACET
Special to the Chronicle
PAGE – An entrepreneur planning to expand and integrate two very different existing businesses, a geo-tourism company and a high-end private chef service, took first place at the Pioneer Pitch event in Page.
Billy Woods, a chef who has worked in some of the most acclaimed restaurants in the country, plans to expand both Blue Marble Adventures Tourism Company and Red Rocks Culinary and combine them into a new firm called “Canyons and Chefs.”
It would offer guided geology-focused hikes of the Grand Canyon during the day followed by a multicourse meal prepared at the tourist’s Airbnb or Vrbo accommodations.
“It’s a really cool niche that no one else is doing and provides clients with a really interesting and unique experience,” Woods said.
The approach impressed a panel of judges from Moonshot at NACET, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in Flagstaff, which held the Shark Tank-style competition at Coconino Community College’s Page Instructional Site campus.
“Billy articulated an approach that is going to appeal tremendously to both lovers of the great outdoors and foodies,” said Scott Hathcock, the President-CEO of Moonshot at NACET. “Tourism is one of the great drivers of the local economy here in Page and all of northern Arizona. It’s a great fit.”
In addition to a $1,500 prize, the new company will get a business mentorship as an affiliate of the Moonshot at NACET program.
In second place and winning a $500 prize was Nathan Blackgoat. When it opens, his Blackgoat Trading Post will be the only Navajo-owned and operated pawn shop in Page. For Native people and specifically elders, pawn shops serve as a primary money lending service. Blackgoat said that he wants to help broker better exchanges for Native people in Page while also assisting in selling their goods to tourists.
“Tourist customers want to take home a local artisans craft or souvenir of the Southwest,” he said. “I want to inspire people about the community and the state that I love.”
Blackgoat has identified a location for the new shop and is now raising capital for store operations.
In addition to mentors from Moonshot at NACET, the panel of judges also included Page Mayor Levi Tappan.
The Page Pioneer Pitch was presented by Coconino County, and support sponsors included, Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits, SBDC Arizona, Coconino Community College, the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, and Preferred Sales and Leasing.
The statewide Pioneer Pitch sponsor is Arizona Public Service.