The perfect pitch

Business Model Pitch Night Competitions award over $50,000 to new businesses.

If you had four minutes to deliver your business pitch to six judges in a room filled with over 200 people for a chance to win over $15,000 for your new business, would you take the opportunity? This past November, ten new businesses took to the stage at Beards Brewery in Petoskey, Mich., to do just that- explain their new business in four minutes and potentially walk away with thousands of dollars to assist in getting their startup off the ground. 

The NLEA Business Model Pitch Night Competition Grand Event was hosted by Michigan State University Extension partner Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA) and sponsored by Consumers Energy and DTE Energy Foundation. This event was the result after two previous pitch events took place in the NLEA region- GreenLight East Jordan and Invest Cheboygan. The top two competitors from each received automatic bids to the Grand Event and six other businesses in the NLEA region filled the wildcard spots. 

The ten finalists were 221 Main Street, Adventure Sports North, CK Innovate, Explore Cheboygan Land & Water Adventures, Hops-N-Props Boat Works, Michigan Invoice Solutions, Northern Michigan Drum Village, South Arm Market, The Queens Head and Urban Bird & Company. These new businesses went through a coaching session a week prior to the Grand Event and had their presentations reviewed by Sharon Schappacher from the Service Corp of Retired Executives (SCORE) and Tom Erhart from the Small Business Development Center (SBDC). This coaching session ensured that each business put their best foot forward on the night of the event. 

On November 20, after all the pitches took place, the judges selected first, second and third place and the audience voted for the People’s Choice Award. The People’s Choice Award ($2,000) and third place ($3,000) went to Urban Bird & Company, a women’s clothing store located in Cheboygan. Second place ($5,000) went to Adventure Sports North, an annual adventure race that aims to showcase local natural beauty, attract people and businesses to East Jordan and promote a healthy lifestyle. The grand prizewinner went to South Arm Market ($15,000), a delicatessen that sells locally grown meats and area goods, while serving gourmet sandwiches, pizzas, salads and seasonal soups.

This was a great event for the region and we are looking forward to 2018. For more information on the event or to see pictures, please visit

Michigan State University Extension has had a unique relationship with the regional economic development organization Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA) for more than 20 years. Recognizing the strength of combining resources, this partnership focuses on economic development, entrepreneurship growth and community infrastructure throughout a four-county region in the northwest Lower Peninsula, specifically Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan and Emmet counties. As a result, the NLEA utilizes resources offered through MSU Extension as it provides leadership to statewide programs sponsored by MSU Extension.

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