A giant check for the AOA Startup Grant winner

startup2014 giant check

From left to right: Dan Ciampino from Staff Ciampino; Heather Lashway, Berkshire Bank senior VP of product and designs; Sara Mae Hickey from Puzzles Bakery & Cafe; Mary Darcy from AOA; Justin Priddle, Berkshire Bank VP, Relationship Manager; Karen Mason, Berkshire Bank branch manager.

You know what's fun? Giving someone a giant check.

Sara Mae Hickey from Puzzles Bakery & Cafe -- the winner of this year's AOA Startup Grant -- was awarded the giant check for $1,500 today from the sponsors of the contest, Berkshire Bank and Staff Ciampino & Company P.C., Certified Public Accountants. (She also got smaller, actual check so she wouldn't have to try to deposit the giant check -- though, you know, that could be fun, too...)

And there was a bonus prize! Staff Ciampino also awarded Puzzles a year of free consulting and accounting services!

It was great to see Sara Mae and hear about the progress on Puzzles. She said they're currently finishing off some construction work and waiting on some kitchen equipment. The bakery/cafe on State Street in downtown Schenectady is aiming for a soft open this July.

Speaking of bonus prizes... The Albany Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region both stepped in after this year's finals to offer the two runners-up -- Raya's Raw and Cultured and The Rise and Shine Company -- entrepreneurship classes. Thanks to those two organizations!

Thank you to everyone who helped out with this year's contest, including Janet Tanguay at the Chamber for her coaching services, and our judges -- Lissa D'Aquanni from the Community Loan Fund, Blake Hanan from Mealo, and Rhea Drysdale from Outspoken Media. And thank you again to this year's contest sponsors Staff Ciampino & Company P.C., Certified Public Accountants and Berkshire Bank.

startup contest 2014 sponsor ad staff ciampinoStartup2014 Berkshire Bank in-post ad

The Albany Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce advertises on AOA.

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