Economic Development, Nonprofits, and Small Business & Startups

Entrepreneurs win Start Garden cash

July 16, 2018
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Start Garden Demo Day 2018 winner checks
The 2018 Demo Day winners. Courtesy Start Garden

Ten entrepreneurs claimed $20,000 each through Start Garden’s 100 Ideas initiative.

Leaders of Start Garden’s Demo Day recently announced the 10 winners at an event at 20 Monroe Live in downtown Grand Rapids.

The winners were selected from a pool of 621 aspiring entrepreneurs who submitted their business ideas via a 100-second video in January.

In April, 100 finalists were selected by Start Garden to win $1,000 each to invest in their business ideas and compete in Demo Day. To prepare for the event, Start Garden offered sessions where competitors could meet with experienced entrepreneurs in West Michigan for mentorship and guidance.

“We wanted these entrepreneurs to know they had the support they needed as they prepared for their Demo Day presentation,” said Paul Moore, director, Start Garden.

The 100 entrepreneurs are 56 percent male, 44 percent female, 53 percent minority and 47 percent Caucasian, according to Start Garden.

The ideas include 28 startup tech companies, 27 physical products, 18 new service providers, 15 food entrepreneurs, seven social initiatives and five retail concepts.

The 10 business ideas that were selected to win $20,000 were:

— The Only Bean: Kristine Yang

— Adoraa Company: Ariana Waller

— Public Thread: Janay Brower

— Squish & Scrub: Bobby Johnson

— SLP-TEK Cot: Justin Gauvin

— Soldadera Coffee: Gabriela Rodriguez

— Kings Brewing Company: Terry Rostic

— Muse GR: Stephen Smith

— Hoodini: Liz Hilton

— Payload CMS: James Mikrut

Cuddle Buddy’s Amanda Morton received the People’s Choice award — voted on by Demo Day attendees — and received a $2,500 award.

The initiative was funded by banks and community entrepreneurs, including Bank of America, Chemical Bank, ChoiceOne Bank, Economic Development Foundation, Fifth Third Bank, Flagstar Bank, Huntington Bank, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Macatawa Bank, Mercantile Bank and PNC. A grant from the Grand Rapids Community Foundation provided administrative support for the project.

“Just like the financial institutions who funded this initiative, we hope the Grand Rapids community will realize how important this initiative is and will do its part in supporting these 10 new entrepreneurs in whatever way possible, be it through intellectual, social and/or financial capital,” said Jorge Gonzalez, director, Start Garden.

“This kind of energy, creativity and commitment deserves as much.”

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