The Pittsburgh Penguins and First National Bank, the largest subsidiary of F.N.B. Corporation, have chosen Worm ReturnPyramid PGH | Marketing & Advertising and Hernandez Heating and Cooling, LLC as the winning Pittsburgh-based small businesses of the FNB Small Business Development Camp. The winners were announced today by Penguins President of Business Operations Kevin Acklin.

At the end of the six-week development camp, each of the five participating businesses presented a pitch to an expert panel of judges, with the top three groups receiving a share of a $50,000 grant towards their operations, and all five companies will receive marketing opportunities with the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

Finalists were challenged to take their business learnings from the program and present to judges about how they will effectively grow and scale their businesses to $2 million in annual sales by 2025 with the help of the potential capital and marketing assets. They were judged on their strategic approach to their business plan and their growth's overall impact on their community. 

Worm Return, the recipient of a $25,000 grant, is a female-owned, socially responsible organic material diversion company providing composting services to the Greater Pittsburgh Region and beyond. The company aims to educate the public on food diversion and keep food scraps out of landfills, creating highly nutrient soil amendments and valuable microbial life.

Pyramid PGH | Marketing & Advertising, the recipient of a $15,000 grant, is a local marketing and advertising firm whose mission is to deliver quality services tailored to its clients' strategic communication, project management, and brand development needs. Founded in 2015, the firm leverages digital media, graphic design, and branding to change how brands communicate with customers and elevate their business.

Hernandez Heating and Cooling, the recipient of a $10,000 grant, has more than 20 years of experience in the HVAC industry. When owner Wernier Hernandez moved to Pittsburgh from Puerto Rico, he aimed to provide his customers with quality work and a high standard of service.

The other two participating businesses, Two Ugly Mugs Salsa and Leon's Caribbean Restaurant, will receive marketing assets at Penguins games throughout the remainder of the 2023-24 season to help aid brand awareness in the region.

The judges selected the five Pittsburgh-based small businesses to participate in a six-week training program consisting of educational speakers, workshops, and classes providing guidance and insight on sustaining, scaling, and advancing their businesses. Participants had the opportunity to learn from and work directly with executives and experts at FNB, the Penguins and Riverside Center for Innovation (RCI).

As part of the six-week program, industry experts covered various topics, including financial services and resources available to small businesses, pricing models, general marketing, finding and attracting investors for businesses, building and managing a team, and general pitch preparation.

Additional details on the overall program, including business eligibility and prizing, can be found here.