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NewsPitchabaloo Makes a Return to VGM

In 2019, VGM introduced Pitchabaloo, an exciting and friendly competition giving employee owners the chance to bring their ideas for the company to life.

The event was put on hold in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During this break time, VGM's Women in Leadership (WIL) group invested in bringing Pitchabaloo back. A committee was created, and work began on rebranding the concept.

“This was such a great idea when initially conceived,” said Jamie Schmitz, an employee owner with VGM Insurance and a member of WIL. “Due to the pandemic, we’ve missed two years of potentially amazing ideas. Once everyone started coming back into the office, we knew we needed to bring Pitchabaloo back.”

Some members of WIL took the role of sponsors and helped employee owners interested in pitching an idea work through the creative process. Sponsors included Paul DiMarco (Human Capital), Sarah Conger (VGM Fulfillment), Tim Brenden (Strategic Imaging), Mike Isaacson (VGM & Associates), and Cassi Price (Management Services).

Twelve employee owners developed their concepts and presented their ideas in a preliminary round to five judges, Paul DiMarco, Linda Braden (VGM Insurance), Tera O’Hare (HOMELINK), Kelsey Burke (Human Capital), and Jay Bracken (IT). Of initial presenters, four received a “golden ticket” to move on to the finals.

“Every single idea was incredible,” said Tera O’Hare, senior vice president of HOMELINK. “It was not easy choosing who should advance, which goes to show the great minds we have at VGM.”

Receiving the golden ticket were Jen Gilbert, senior copywriter with Moxie, with her idea of establishing a committee for marketing and PR to get regular donations toward VGM’s Family Fund; Dax Oliviera of VGM IT for his “Code Bootcamp” to address an HR recruitment challenge for hiring developers; Sarah Weiland, business developer with Moxie, for a sales referral system across all VGM companies; and Jesse Farris, director of business technology at Forbin, for his system to connect program members to one platform he called “VGM Connect.”

These four gave their final presentation on Sept. 20 in front of six judges: Mike Mallaro (VGM Group), Sergio Galindo (VGM Fulfillment), Sara Laures (VGM Group), Shanon Eckhardt (HOMELINK), Emily McCormack (VGM Insurance), and Shane Rogan (VGM & Associates).

Winners were announced during the Pitchabaloo celebration later that day. Dax won first place and was awarded $1,000. Jen came in second and received a cash prize of $500. Jesse and Sara tied for third place and received $250 each.

“Everyone did outstanding,” said CEO Mike Mallaro. “I would encourage any of our employee owners that if you have an idea, bring it forward. Own your ownership and embrace change to help VGM continue to grow.”