Kitsap Bank announces five finalists for small business competition

A Port Orchard business is one of the five finalists in Kitsap Bank’s inaugural edg3 Fund small business competition.

With Respect, along with four others, were chosen by a public vote from a group of 16 semi-finalists and will move on to compete in the final phase of the competition, edg3 Fund Live, at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 10 at Kitsap Conference Center at Harborside in Bremerton.

The finalists, which were announced Aug. 18, will present their pitches before a live audience and an independent panel of judges. The winner will receive $20,000.

According to the company’s Facebook page, With Respect focuses on what it takes to make great students, great teachers, great schools and a great future.

Leah R. Kyaio, education consultant and owner of With Respect, said the first step on the contest was filling out an application with essay questions, plus submitting a video. The 16 semi-finalists then went on Kitsap Bank’s website and the community had to vote for the finalists.

“I am excited, honored and thrilled,” Kyaio said. “As a community to stand behind me and support me, this was my opportunity to find out where I was at. I have huge gratitude to my community who stepped to the plate to provide that voting platform that allowed me to get here.”

Kyaio said she started her company in 2010, but has worked as a trainer for nearly 20 years. Kyaio contracts out her services to school districts, communities and individuals — both online and in person.

“I do a lot of work on things that are not quite right with education,” Kyaio said. “I help build solutions around tools and creating tool boxes for teachers, parents, students and administrators.”

She said her business operates under three primary categories: cultural competence, non-violence and conflict negations.

She also started a book series that deals with “bullying” and is starting a pilot program called “K2K” which gives high school students the skills to become trainers and assist junior high students for anti-bullying, cyber safety and a positive culture.

The four other finalists are Monica’s Waterfront Bakery and Café, Silverdale; Pawzii, Inc., Bremerton; Moonlight Farm, Quilcene and OlyKraut, Olympia.

“We were very impressed with the caliber of businesses represented in our semi-finalist grouping, each truly being a winner in their commitment to bettering our community,” said Tony George, Kitsap Bank president and chief operations officer. “Our finalists who come from this pool represent diverse industries and backgrounds, reaching from the Olympic Peninsula to our State Capitol, each benefiting from very loyal community support.”

The public is encouraged to attend edge3 Fund Live on Sept. 10 and support their favorite finalist. Tickets are available at

“We are honored to have the assistance of three esteemed members of the Greater Puget Sound business community, entrepreneurs and professionals in their own right,” stated George. “These individuals will make the all-important determination of who will be awarded the $20,000 grand prize, and the check will be presented at the culmination of our live event.

The panel of judges will include:

• David Giuliani, co-founder of Washington Business Alliance; co-founder/CEO and chief inventor of the Sonicare company, sold to Philips. co-founder/CEO of Clarisonic company, sold to L’Oreal in 2011.

• John Eisenhauer, founder/CEO and CTO of Kombi Corporation; founder/president of Mercury Online Solutions, Inc. acquired by 3M Corporation in 2005.

• Steve Rice, senior principal architect for LEED AP Rice Fergus Miller Architects.

The mission of edg3 Fund is to recognize entrepreneurs dedicated to growing their community in three ways: economically, socially, or environmentally.

The bank received nearly 70 applications from entrepreneurs throughout Western Washington representing industries ranging from food/beverages and tourism to arts, education and agriculture.


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