A soap company with a one-for-one donation program took home the top prize at the entrepreneur-centered NEXT Accelerator Boot Camp Pitch-Slam at Expo West last week. Among 17 contestants and three finalists, SoapBox Soaps was named winner by a panel of four judges after a night packed with amazing product pitches, networking and some good-hearted competition.

So what's the story behind the night's winner? Mission-centered SoapBox Soaps donates a full bar of soap for every bar sold and also donates soap, fresh water and vitamins, both domestically and internationally. It's a model that empowers its customers with the ability to make the world a better place through everyday, quality purchases of soap. In its two year history, SoapBox Soaps has already donated soap to a number of countries on four continents including Haiti, Ecuador, Honduras, Canada, Kenya, Uganda, Thailand, India, South Africa, Zambia and the United States.  In addition, SoapBox Soaps have also donated soap to struggling families at homeless shelters, women’s shelters, and nursing homes in the United States.

The Pitch-Slam is a fun, fast-paced event that lets entrepreneurs pitch their natural product idea to a panel of leading investors and branding experts, and receive expert suggestions for improving their idea. This year, the prize package for the winner of the Pitch-Slam was worth nearly $30,000 in goods and services including a free booth at Natural Products Expo West 2015, branding and marketing consulting services from Sterling-Rice Group and MetaBrand Corporation, social media consulting from VOCO Creative, a copy of Bob Burke’s Natural Products Field Manual, an invitation to present at Nutrition Capital Network’s Investor Conference, a copy of The Natural Products Industry Forecast 2014, and free membership to the NEXT Accelerator.

The expert judges panel included industry experts Eric Schnell, CEO of MetaBrand Corporation; Grant Ferrier, CEO of Nutrition Capital Network; Nick McCoy, managing partner at Silverwood Partners; and Buddy Ketchner, president at Sterling-Rice Group.

Together, the judges selected the three finalists including Dr. John Taylor from NWC Pet Supplement Company; Audrey Darrow, founder of Righteously Raw; and Daniel Doll and David Simnick of Soap Box Soaps.

NWC Pet makes enzyme and probiotic pet supplements designed to extend the life of your furry friends. Taylor has been formulating and selling these all natural pet supplements, probiotics and enzymes for healthy pets for 11 years.

Righteously Raw founder Audrey Darrow was inspired to launch her line of raw chocolate products on her successful journey through cancer toward healthier eating. An eight-year survivor of breast cancer, Audrey discovered that the after effects from chemotherapy and radiation treatments were devastating to the body and difficult to overcome. It became her mission to learn about healthy, high frequency foods and then educate the world about them.

"I felt the quality of the applicant pool was a very encouraging sign of more positive business models to birth in our natural products industry," said Pitch-Slam judge Eric Schnell. "Seeing so many Triple Bottom Line-centric brands with a focus on giving back was extremely exciting for me.  I think if this path continues, proves successful and becomes the norm, we will eventually evolve into what I would coin the Conscious Products Industry.”

Pitch-Slam is part of New Hope Natural Media’s NEXT Accelerator, an online tool for the large population of entrepreneurial manufacturers in the natural products industry. The solution is targeted to the entrepreneur who has a good idea, but who needs insight, experience and tactical know-how to take their business to the next level.  The NEXT Accelerator connects manufacturers with the information, expertise, advisors, service providers and partners to ensure their product launch success and provides year-round mentoring and education to meet an identified need. www.nextaccelerator.com