North Alabama’s Singing River Trail is much more than a greenway—it is a community builder that strengthens regional bonds while offering educational, economic, tourism, and entrepreneurial opportunities. The 200+ mile trail system will offer a myriad of benefits and opportunities to North Alabamians. 

One such opportunity is Singing River Trail’s Launch Tank, a Shark Tank-style competition for new and existing North Alabama entrepreneurs. The ultimate goal is to amplify and empower North Alabama’s entrepreneurial ecosystem; business owners are given the chance to make a live pitch to an audience of business leaders, public officials, and ecosystem stakeholders. Finalists receive non dilutive funding and direct introductions to programs and resources from the ecosystem tailored to support their business needs.

Meet three finalists whose lives and businesses have been immeasurably impacted by Singing River Trail’s Launch Tank.

Sherry Jefferson, Flirty Flame Candle Co.

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“Fragrances have a way of bringing back special memories from the past,” Sherry Jefferson explains. She vividly remembers sitting on her grandfather’s lap as a child and smelling his sweet pipe tobacco while he watched Alabama football on the TV. She also recalls the fragrant honeysuckle in her grandmother’s backyard, and the smell of birthday candles, sometimes on a cake and sometimes on a Moonpie, that her mother always made sure she had.

Candle-making came naturally to her through her love of scent and its direct correlation to memory. “I want people to feel the same way I do, to allow scent to transport them. That’s what aromatherapy can do—it can ignite memories and emotions that were maybe long forgotten.”

Through the encouragement and support of her daughter, Jefferson pitched the idea of a mobile candle bar at this year’s Launch Tank, and to her surprise and delight, took home first place. Since winning, she has invested in better equipment for her candle business, but is perhaps most thankful for the support of the Athens community and the new relationships the competition has forged.

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“Athens is a very loyal town, and people always stop and say hi,” says Jefferson, who is now affectionately known as the “candle lady.” Jefferson’s mobile candle bar is available for weddings, team-building events, or a fun night out with friends. 


Tiffany Kirby, Oak Queen Co.

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Tiffany Kirby was inspired by the natural elements around her to create a resin jewelry business, to preserve those natural elements for someone to enjoy for years to come. She forages all her own pieces—from flowers and plants to butterflies and bugs—and creates treasured pieces such as necklaces and table art.

The Singing River Trail Launch Tank was not originally in her sights, but friends and family encouraged her to pursue the competition. She even got a message from the mayor of her town of Courtland, who reached out to offer her support. “At first I thought, ‘there’s nothing groundbreaking about a jewelry business,’ but so many encouraged me and reminded me that what I’m doing is truly special.”

She was overjoyed by her fifth place win, and has since used the prize money to purchase a bubble remover for her resin pieces. With her new equipment, Kirby is now able to offer memorial pieces to commemorate and remember loved ones who have passed.

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The Launch Tank process brought her so many connections, friends, and potential business contacts; additionally, Kirby explains that the entire experience allowed her to gain invaluable knowledge as a new small business owner. “The Launch Tank really highlighted the community-building aspect of what we do,” she says. “You have to market your business and make those connections. You can’t do it by yourself.”


Nathan Tucker, Rocket City eBikes

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Huntsville native Nathan Tucker began Rocket City eBikes with co-founder Ash Moorer in 2022, with the original intent to have a simple rental business. North Alabamians loved the concept and today, they are North Alabama’s premier ebike business and offer bike sales, rentals, team-building activities and scavenger hunts, along with date nights and custom tours. 

Tucker took home first place at last year’s Launch Tank, and was immediately overwhelmed with community support. “We’re incredibly grateful to Singing River Trail, and we love the community building they’re doing,” Tucker says. “After winning, we were put in touch with community leaders across the state and given a lot of publicity. We really can’t say enough good things about the experience.”

In addition to the prize money and networking opportunities, Tucker cites that one of their greatest wins was business coaching with Entrepreneurial Operating System expert Mark Waters. “His teaching has really been invaluable to us,” Tucker says. “He has worked with us for many months on how to focus our goals and shoot arrows in the direction we want.”

Through the business coaching, the prize money, and even after hiring their first full-time employee, Tucker looks back on the Launch Tank experience with gratitude for its platform. This year, in a full-circle moment, they were asked to come back and speak to the 2024 contestants and offer up encouragement.

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“Anyone who has started a small business understands things that no one else understands,” Tucker says. “It puts us in an exclusive club with each other. It’s us who truly builds the character and personality of a city—and it’s us who drives more localized economic growth. It’s something we’re really proud of.”