New and growing businesses win cash at WCC’s Pitch Contest

Judges of the Pitch@WCC competition from left: Alan Newman, Rosemary Wilson, Amanda Edmonds and Peter Leshkevich. Evans Koukios | Washtenaw Voice

Judges of the Pitch@WCC competition from left: Alan Newman, Rosemary Wilson, Amanda Edmonds and Peter Leshkevich. Evans Koukios | Washtenaw Voice

By Jenee Gregor

Staff Writer

 

The entrepreneurship center has a broad range of help and resources available to anyone who wants to start their business or to grow it.  They hold workshops and trainings to provide people with the information about what is needed to be successful.

Grow-Winner Karen Driggs receives the largest award of the competition from Millicent Chu, $1500 for her company Sleepy Cricket Healthy Vending. Evans Koukios | Washtenaw voice

Grow-Winner Karen Driggs receives the largest award of the competition from Millicent Chu, $1500 for her company Sleepy Cricket Healthy Vending. Evans Koukios | Washtenaw Voice

The pitch contest consisted of eight different businesses in two categories: Start and Build, and Grow.  Different prizes were set for the winners of each category, with up to $1,500 for the winner of the Grow category.

The businesses were submitted by late January, and had to go to a certain amount of workshops to make it to the pitch contest finale.  There were 26 businesses that began the journey and eight now pitch at the end, mentioned Dean Kim Hurns, who originated the idea for the pitch contest.

“These people have spent all semester working on their businesses, growing and thinking about them,” Hurns said.

The Entrepreneurship Center is helped by three coaches: Millicent Chu, Shawn Preissle, and Kory Schriber. They work with the Small Business Development Center, also known as the SBDC, that helped these businesses along their journey to the contest and all the steps in between.

“It’s not just going for help, but actually doing what they tell you,” said Kristen Gapske, the Entrepreneurship Center manager.

The winners of the contest heeded the words of the coaches and took home some prize winnings for their hard work and ideas.

Tess Adams pitches "Destiny House", a non-profit organization promoting foster care kids. Evans Koukios | Washtenaw voice

Tess Adams pitches “Destiny House”, a non-profit organization promoting foster care kids. Evans Koukios | Washtenaw Voice

The Start and Build category businesses were broad ranging.  In My Own Time LLC is run by Jan Abraham as a tutoring and reading readiness program.  The Washtenaw Wool Company run by Carol Ullman, works to provide yarn that sources wool from local businesses and dyes the wool. Destiny House, a transitional foster care for older children, is developed by Tess Brooks.  Double Take 2, is a proposed print publication that is for twins, by twins magazine, created by Bernadette McClair. MicroHub is a life management and coaching digital interface and media platform is created by Ann Marie Pintar.  Moonlight Games is an indie video game development business, established by Matt Beadle and Travis Wiley.

The Grow category had two presenters, being at the level of having a standing business and looking to make progress.  Nirmal for Disruptive Eating is an Indian food brand geared toward reduction of obesity in lower income population and is owned by Navnita and Priya Dass.  Sleepy Cricket Healthy Vending, owned by Karen L. Driggs, is a vending machine company that owns vending machines and can distribute healthier options for on-the-go snacks.

The runner-up in the Start and Build category was Washtenaw Wool Company, and they also won the audience choice award.  Moonlight Games took home the $1,000 prize for taking their business to the next step.

Twins Antoinette and Bernadette pose with their proud mother after pitching their twins’ magazine, DOUBLETAKE2. Evans Koukios | Washtenaw Voice

Twins Antoinette and Bernadette McClain pose with their proud mother after pitching their twins’ magazine, DOUBLETAKE2. Evans Koukios | Washtenaw Voice

The winner of the Grow category was Sleepy Cricket Healthy Vending with the $1,500 first place prize.  Nirmal for Disruptive Eating came in as the runner-up.

“This is wonderful and terrific!  This is attributed to all the people in the SBDC and the Entrepreneurship Center.  They gave me all the help I needed,” Driggs said.

The Pitch Contest will be taking place again next year, and in the meantime the Entrepreneurship Center offers many classes and workshops to people at all levels of business needs.

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