It started with a drill and a can of beer.
Now a pair of Gainesville entrepreneurs are among a group of 100 in a national contest sponsored by Fedex for small business grants.
Trevor Abbott and Ty Parker created Spin Chill, a pocket-sized, waterproof device that rapidly cools a canned or bottled drink in less than a minute by spinning it in ice.
Spin Chill, which operates out of Parker’s garage, is the only North-Central Florida business in the contest. The duo have sold more than 3,000 devices since launching the company in May 2013.
Contest winners receive $25,000; more 5,000 businesses applied for the grant. People vote for the top-100 businesses by liking them on Facebook. There were over 1.4 million votes cast in this year’s contest, according to FedEx’s website.
“It’s awesome to be in the Top 100,” Abbott said. “More than anything, it’s the support of people in Gainesville who were willing to vote for us.”
Abbott said he and Parker would use the contest money to improve their marketing strategies, including a better retail packaging, if they won.
Ten grant winners will be announced on March 24, according to FedEx’s website.
Daniel Sarkis, vice president and co-founder of Sarkis Investments, mentored Abbott and Parker during the creation of Spin Chill.
Sarkis met the pair in 2013 at the HackerHouse, a local organization that gives entrepreneurs resources and tools to develop their products, he said.
“People are interested because they’ve blended technology with elements of a party scene,” Daniel Sarkis said.
He said he thinks Spin Chill has been successful because Abbott and Parker have reached an untapped market.
“They have a great entrepreneurial vision, and they make a really great team together,” Sarkis said.
Sarkis believes the FedEx contest benefits small-business owners because the grant enables companies to develop their brands and gain notoriety.
“It’s been phenomenal to watch the business grow and be around their energy and innovativeness,” he said.
Nicole Snow, founder of Darn Good Yarn, a company dedicated to producing recycled-silk yarn products, won the grant contest in 2013.
Snow said the money enabled her to expand. Before the grant, she was able to provide 250 colors of yarn, and now she has 1,700.
“It’s conscientious capitalism at its finest,” Snow said.
Darn Good Yarn, which is based in Maine, helps women in Nepal and India become financially independent by employing them as yarn spinners. The company created jobs for more than 300 families, she said.
Snow said she had people reach out to her during the contest process who said her company inspired them to start their own business. She said she attributes this to the exposure companies receive through their Facebook pages during the contest voting process.
“People want to see you succeed,” Snow said. “People root for small businesses.”