Five Local Entrepreneurs Win Business Capital as Pitch North 2021 Finalists
Five local entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas to a panel of judges and an audience of nearly 50 people at the third annual Pitch North competition held Tuesday, June 8th via ZOOM. They were competing for the chance to win over $10,000 in cash and prizes to bring their ideas to life.
Pitch North was designed to spark entrepreneurial change and encourage more small businesses to start in Newaygo, Oceana, and Lake counties. Pitch North 2021 received 33 business idea submissions, from which five finalists were selected by a local committee to pitch at the live event. Each entrepreneur had five minutes to present, and judges had an opportunity to ask questions directly following.
“When times get tough, entrepreneurs create businesses, and that is exactly what each of the finalists did during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each finalist either came up with their idea, or perfected it over the past year, and they each stepped out of their comfort zone to participate in this competition,” said Julie Burrell, Business Development Manager – Newaygo County, The Right Place, Inc. “They showed their passion for their businesses during their pitches, which earned each of them funding to move their business idea forward.”
The first place prize of $4,500 was awarded to Caleb Davis-Dykema, owner of A Garden In The Woods Farm, in Oceana County. Caleb plans to invest his winnings to install a refrigeration station at the farm, extending his shelf-life of products and hire a part time flower harvester. Second place was awarded to Whitney Schornagel with House of Whole in Newaygo County. Whitney is planning to invest in infrastructure which would allow her to increase capacity and expand sales of her cold-pressed juice. . The third place prize went to Eric Carson with Carson Family Beef in Newaygo County, with plans to expand offerings with his newly launched farm stand.
In addition to the following cash prizes, each finalist will also receive a complimentary membership to the Lakeshore FabLab:
1st Place: $4,500 Caleb Davis-Dykema, A Garden In The Woods Farm, Oceana County
2nd Place: $2,500 Whitney Schornagel, House of Whole, Newaygo County
3rd Place: $1,500 Eric Carson, Carson Family Beef, Newaygo County
4th Place: $1,000 Emmaline Woodward, Woodline Landscape & Design, Newaygo County
5th Place: $500 Courtney DeGarmo, Courtney’s Canine Creations, Oceana County
Marie Elliot, Business Consultant with the Small Business Development Center; Rich Houtteman, Community Affairs Manager for Consumers Energy; Melissa Marietti-Evans, Commercial Lender at Northern Initiatives, Nichole Steel Kleiner, Community & Economic Development Director, City of Hart and Tracy Straight, Vice President and Commercial Loan Officer for Shelby State Bank volunteered as judges for the event.
For more information, visit pitchnorth.com or contact Julie Burrell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 231.335.1985
“We are so grateful to our sponsors who, since Pitch North’s inception in 2019, have infused over $27,000 of new business capital into our communities through their generous support of the competition and the 15 new businesses that have launched from it,” added Jodi Nichols, Business Development Coordinator -Lake and Oceana Counties.
Pitch North 2021 is hosted by The Right Place, Inc. and made possible through support from The Adama Family Gift Fund, The Fremont Area Community Foundation, Shelby State Bank, Consumers Energy, DTE Energy, West Shore Community College, The City of Fremont, The City of Newaygo, The City of Hart, River Country Chamber of Commerce, Gerber Federal Credit Union and the Lakeshore FabLab.