Mud in their eye at i-hamptons’ “Riptide III”

Mud season: Co-founder Collin Kavanagh makes a winning case for environmentally sensitive sunscreen Montauk Mud in the "Riptide III" finale.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

A sunscreen with an ecological nature and an unmistakable Long Island ID took top honors at the third-annual “Riptide: $ink or $wim” business competition.

The Montauk Mud Co., a 2019 LLC founded by Islanders Collin Kavanaugh and Elias Van Sickle, won the i-hamptons-hosted pitch-a-thon, collecting $20,000 in business-development grants and goodies, including radio ads with Long Island Broadcasting and gratis membership in The Spur, the part co-working space/part members-only “entrepreneur’s club” founded by Ashley Heather in 2017.

The mud men were among five finalists competing Nov. 9 for the top spot in the annual competition, part of i-hamptons’ ongoing mission to support East End entrepreneurs.

Ashley Heather: Rising tide.

Their product – an “elemental sunscreen” that “looks good, feels good and is good for you and the environment,” according to the Montauk Mud website – most impressed the panel of expert judges, including Tate’s Bake Shop founder Kathleen King, Columbia Business School Entrepreneur-in-Residence Barbara Roberts, Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman and long-experienced VC Brian Halweil, publisher of the “Edible” family of regional food websites.

The response to the Riptide III competition most impressed Heather, who noted “a growing interest from local innovators and startups to join this platform.”

“The Riptide event demonstrated that the East End is alive with entrepreneurial spirit,” he added. “We look forward to seeing the community continue to grow in the coming few years.”

Also impressive were the runners-up in the 2019 contest, including audience-selected second-place finisher Kombat-Cha, a Southampton-based LLC that brews up kombucha – a fermented bacteria, yeast and sweet-tea blend – to battle toxins.

The crowd-pleasing startup, launched earlier this year by founders Charity Joy Robinson and Romi Sloan, snagged a $10,000 biz-development package with its silver medal.

Cha-cha: With the help of a familiar face, Kombat-Cha’s founders do their song-and-dance.

All told, 47 regional entrepreneurs submitted business ideas for Riptide III, with 23 semi-finalists – selected by an in-house panel of i-hamptons judges – chosen to present pitch videos on the i-hamptons website.

The People took it from there, with 6,000-plus online votes selecting the five finalists for the Nov. 9 standing-room-only finale at the Southampton Arts Center. Among them: PeKANT Tea, a line of chili-infused iced teas; Rena’s Dream Patties, a spin on the Jamaican beef patty; and The Tick Ball, a biodegradable backyard weapon in the war against disease-spreading buggers.

All of the finalists will receive “valuable support and mentoring from the experienced panel of judges and Spur mentors,” according to i-hamptons.

“We are excited to help mentor them … over the next year, helping to build a strong entrepreneurial community on the East End,” Heather told Innovate LI. “This is a critical initiative in our ongoing push to a build diversified, all-year-round business ecosystem.”

Also excited is Kombat-Cha, which has been energized by its popularity among the Riptide III crowd, according to cofounder Robinson.

“We are thrilled to have received the audience vote,” the entrepreneur added. “Kombat-Cha coming at ya – on the East End and beyond!”