Red Wing Ignite hosts a Shark Tank-like pitch event each year to promote local entrepreneurs and startups. Thursday’s event was the first time that the E1 Ignite Cup was online, so it is apt that the winner’s business plan revolves around its website.

After pitches and Q&As with judges and audience members, Shrpa was announced the winner.

According to the pitch video created by the creators of Shrpa, Chris Lukenbill and Andy Vig, the startup is:

“An online platform for locals to share self-guided itineraries like amazing experiences in their community. The platform makes it fun and easy to share what you love about your neighborhood and the best way to experience it.”

Shrpa’s website allows individuals to find activities to do in southeastern Minnesota. The outings, which vary from an evening of fun to a full day of activities, are created by locals.

As the website states, “local has so much more value to everyone involved. We have opportunities to be a tourist in our local community 50 weeks out of the year. Even the two weeks out of the year that we’re traveling to far off lands, we still want the perspective of the locals to experience a community.”

One example of an afternoon of activities is creating an authentic Asian/Taiwanese dish. Destination creators make a list of where individuals should go and in which order.

Those who offer destination suggestions are called “sherpas.” The name (and the name of the company) references members of the Nepalese ethnic group who are skilled mountaineers and are often employed to help visitors safely and successfully climb the Himalayans.

Tiffany, the sherpa for this destination, lays-out four stops:

  1. Choochoocachew.com, where Taiwanese recipes can be found.

  2. The Rochester Farmers Market in Graham Park.

  3. Asian Food Store (1010 Seventh St. NW., Rochester) for any ingredients that were unavailable at the farmers market.

  4. Your home to create the new dish.

Lukenbill and Vig will next take Shrpa to the Minnesota Cup to compete with startups from around the state. In 2019 division winners received $30,000 and the ability to present to the Grand Prize Review Board. The grand prize winner received $50,000 on top of the $30,000 won as a division winner.