Fort Worth Business Competition Award Goes to Lil Pop Gourmet Popcorn

Husband and wife team, Michael and Sharonda Burnside, founded Lil’ Pop Gourmet Popcorn to teach their daughters about entrepreneurship. Sharonda Burnside had been struggling to return to work after having her two daughters, as she wanted to be an entrepreneur. With Michael’s help, the couple created a business based on their shared love of popcorn. Lil’ Pop Gourmet Popcorn’s menu features handmade, unique flavors, such as cinnamon churros and cookies and cream. Customers can even design their own popcorn with a choice of base and toppings. The family-owned business ships nationally and also sells pop-ups in the Fort Worth area. Recently, Lil’ Pop Gourmet Popcorn won the city of Fort Worth’s annual business plan competition, earning a $10,000 grand prize and becoming the first black-owned business to win in the event’s 12-year history.

Sharonda Burnside is the CEO and founder of Lil’ Pop Gourmet Popcorn, allowing her to balance being a stay-at-home mom while building her business. Her husband, Michael, works full-time in finance and takes on the role of the company’s chief financial officer. In the next five years, the couple hopes to expand the company so that they can both work on it full-time.

Manifest Your Purpose earned second place in the competition with a $6,000 prize. Owner Saria Hawkins created Fine Stationery and Office Her Accessories to fill a void in the stationery industry for black women. The business offers premium stationery that celebrates black women and is sold on Hawkins’ website and Amazon.

Third place went to Narley Vans, a company that produces ADA-compliant passenger car outfittings for individuals in wheelchairs. Owner Brian Frank’s business has made $30,000 in revenue so far and is expected to make $200,000 in revenue next year.

The competition saw an impressive diversity of entrants, with 17 out of 20 companies being minority or women-owned businesses. This was the most diverse competition to date, and it was the first time that the competition included representatives from the City Council. The City of Fort Worth’s Department of Economic Development sponsored the competition with other supporting partners including Frost Bank, TechFW, and HSC Innovates.

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