GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Ten entrepreneurs were awarded $20,000 each Tuesday through a competition run by Start Garden, a West Michigan-based organization that backs new business ideas.
The grand prize winners in Start Garden’s 100 Ideas Initiative, which were chosen by judges, are:
- The Only Bean
- ADORAA Company
- Public Thread
- Squish & Scrub
- SLP-TEK Cot
- Soldadera Coffee
- Kings Brewing Co.
- Payload CMS
The $2,500 People’s Choice Award, which was chosen after more than 2,100 public votes were cast, went to Cuddle Buddies.
Before the winners were announced Tuesday evening at 20 Monroe Live in downtown Grand Rapids, the 100 finalists presented their ideas in a public event. They included 28 tech-related ideas, 27 products, 18 services, 15 food-related ideas, seven social impact initiatives and and five retail ideas.
They were among more than 600 people, the bulk of them from Michigan, who pitched business plans, inventions or ideas to the competition. The finalists were selected in April and each of them received $1,000.
The competition was geared toward entrepreneurs who would have trouble getting investment through tradition means, so many were women or members of minority groups. Forty-seven percent of the ideas came from Caucasian applicants, 33 percent from African-Americans, 13 percent from Latinos and the remaining 7 percent from people of other races or nationalities. Fifty-six percent of the entrepreneurs were men and 44 percent women.
Participants told 24 Hour News 8 that even if they didn’t win, the competition was a great opportunity to network and get feedback.
Start Garden intends to hold the 100 Ideas Initiative again next year. It will begin in January.
>>App users: Watch the announcement of the winners