November 15, 2018 might seem likes ages ago now, but it’s a night that left a lasting impact on Kitsap’s growing entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Here’s the scene: the night is young and restless at the Kitsap Conference Center. A glorious spread of appetizers bejewels multiple tables. The crowd, alive with energy, cozies up to competitors for the Kitsap Bank edg3 FUND Live competition. Vibe member Janet Silcott, Kitsap Bank’s Assistant Vice President, Senior Marketing Officer, meets and greets everyone gathered to celebrate local entrepreneurs. “It’s inspiring learning about the great things people are doing in our own backyard,” she says with a smile.
Established 5 years ago, the Kitsap Bank edg3 FUND is the region’s only small business competition to date that supports triple bottom line startups and small businesses—founders who demonstrate a proven commitment to people, profit and planet.
So what makes this edg3 FUND celebration such a happening hangout? Think Shark Tank with a community-wide spin. During the live event, five finalists, whittled down from over 60 applicants, pitch their small businesses to a panel of judges for a chance at a $20,000 grand prize. From composting innovation and urban maps for people with handicaps, to insect-repelling handmade jewelry and a farm-meets-food-forest cooperative, the night brings together some of Kitsap’s brightest and best. An independent panel of judges (including Vibe’s Alanna Imbach) then deliberates and announces the winner to a packed house of family, friends, colleagues and community members.
“Competitors—and the competition is tough—have to demonstrate how the $20,000 prize money will have a significant impact on their mission of making this world a better place,” Janet explains. “It’s open to Western Washington entrepreneurs who align with Kitsap Bank’s core values of people, profits and planet. We believe that growth starts right here at home, and we are invested in supporting our neighbors, giving back to those who need it most.”
Last November, the grand prize award went to Sequim Bee Farm in Port Angeles. An internationally-recognized small business apiary dedicated to the practice of sustainable bee-keeping and stewardship, Sequim Bee Farm provides the local community with all-natural honey and bee products. The farm’s founders are now using the edg3 FUND award to scale the business, by automating the manufacturing of the all-organic, naturally-grown products from its harvests. Kitsap Bank awarded an additional $5,000 “Community edg3” prize to Dragonfly Cinema in Port Orchard for their embodiment of the spirit of community.
To say that the edg3 FUND competition is inspiring is an understatement. Lucky for us, the Kitsap Bank edg3 Center calls Vibe Coworks home, making it uber easy to pop in and chat with Janet Silcott to learn more about her, the edg3 FUND competition and Kitsap Bank’s larger vision for what our region’s entrepreneurial future holds.
How did the judges make their selection for the grand prize winner at the edg3 FUND? Each of the finalists were so compelling.
Janet: They did a great job of making sure there was alignment of mission and how the award would be transformative to that business and for its community. Who’s going to have the greatest impact right away? Sequim Bee Farm did a great job of making a case for that, primed with their strategic planning to purchase equipment and scale their production quickly. They also had an allocation for upgrading their website and marketing materials.
A lot of people are surprised to see that a bank has a physical presence at a coworking space. Why did you and the Kitsap Bank team decide to become part of the Vibe Coworks community?
Janet: It’s an extension of what we’ve been doing with the edg3 Fund. Here at Vibe, we are part of a larger community of professionals who are sharing ideas, resources and knowledge. It’s a space for innovation and creativity that fosters meaningful connections and encourages entrepreneurship—the very things that we value and hope to encourage in the communities we call home.
To that end, a few of us are sharing office time in the edg3 Center office. You may see some other Kitsap Bank faces from time to time, but those of us here on a regular basis include myself, Alan Crain, our Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, and Senior Vice President, Director of Municipal & Specialty Banking, Rich Martinez.
We’re honored to be here, and love getting to know everyone. Don’t hesitate to stop by and say hi!
Tell us more about your day job.
Janet: We have a mighty team of three in the Marketing Department, and I have the opportunity manage our advertising, website, social media, and do the bank’s graphic design work. Kitsap Bank just rebranded this past August in honor of our 110th birthday, which has been an amazing project to be part of. It was time for a bit of a facelift—we hope you like it!
You have strong ties to North Kitsap.
Janet: My husband and I have lived in Poulsbo for 14 years and have two boys in 4th and 7th grades. I’ve been making the commute to Port Orchard (Kitsap Bank’s headquarters) for 14 years, so to say that I’m excited to have access to a part-time office space in Poulsbo is an understatement! You’ll primarily see me at Vibe on Mondays. Our oldest is involved in a service club at Poulsbo Middle School that meets on Mondays, so this puts me close by to be his chauffeur.
If you could take 5 things and/or people with you to a remote desert island, what / who would that be?
Janet: My two boy s and my husband, so that’s three. I would definitely take a good book… My favorite book is Little Women. I can read that one over and over again. Maybe some kind of shelter, a tent or something? That’s what we’d need. And water!
What’s your favorite pastime?
Janet: Just going to all my kids’ events. My oldest is a swimmer my youngest plays baseball. Being at all of their events and being the typical soccer mom, I guess.
Do you have a favorite story or teacher from your grade school years?
Janet: My parents are both teachers. I actually had my dad as my math teacher at Rochester High School, just south of Olympia. But my favorite teacher, besides my dad, was Mr. Bartley, who taught English. He inspired me to go on and get my degree in English. I have a degree in Technical Writing, and he encouraged me to go that route. I thought I was going to doing software documentation, and here I am doing marketing. So you never know.
Which artist or cultural icon most intrigues you?
Janet: Oprah. Just her ability to inspire people and take her career in so many different directions. Even after being on TV, she’s really got her arms wrapped around so many different things, touching people in so many different ways. I real admire that.
What are your top ingredients for the perfect beach picnic?
Janet: Ooh. You’ve gotta have a good sandwich. I would do ham and Swiss, brownies and pink lemonade.
If you could live in another country, where would you live, and why?
Janet: I would choose either Norway or Sweden, just because that’s where my ancestry is from on my mom’s side. I just think it’s very progressive in that part of the world. Beautiful. Actually, a lot like here with all kinds of rugged mountains, water, forests.
What’s your motto for customer relations?
Janet: It’s not necessarily a motto, but just putting the relationship first. It’s not about selling products or services. It’s about the long-term and building trust. I aim to meet their needs not just for now, but also in the future. It’s about being a partner.
If you had only $10 to your name, what would you spend it on?
Janet: I’d probably put it in my savings account. I’d invest it. I would try saving and hopefully it would grow over time. I’m not very risky.
When do you like to take risks?
Janet: Change is inevitable. I’ll take risks when I believe in something—a cause or a purpose where I can see there’s a long-term benefit to taking some risk.
What was your very first job?
Janet: My very first job was helping my uncle out with his Christmas wreath business. That’s what he did after retirement. And my job was to make the bows that go on the wreaths.
Meet the author: Vibist Susan O'Meara is a Poulsbo-based freelance writer, editor and journalist with global experience. Back in the day, Susan did event marketing for the electrified Don King, boxing’s bad-boy biz whiz. Then she got roped into writing and producing TV spots for Love Boat: The Next Wave, the ‘90s reboot, and nonfiction programming for Showtime (e.g., Roswell: The Real Story). She's not sure which was more surreal—going with the flow of those Hollywood highs, so to speak, or navigating Nairobi’s magazine scene. Susan has worked in the US and abroad for the likes of Bloomberg Media, Deloitte, Discovery Communications, and the United Nations. She's obsessed with wrangling language and messaging that helps brands, businesses, and individuals to grow and shine. Except when it comes to Don King's hair.