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Innovation & Job News

Startup West Michigan builds community one “pitch” at a time

John Rumery

Downtown co-working space, The Factory, was the site of Startup West Michigan's first pitch night of the year.   Five entrepreneurs with predominantly web-based plans had five minutes to pitch their business ideas to an audience of fellow entrepreneurs and business professionals, followed by five minutes to answer any questions about their proposed venture.

For many, it was the first time they have the opportunity to stand up in front of a crowd. For others, it was an opportunity to refine their pitch for future meetings with investors, vendors or possible strategic partners as they advance their business model.

Primary organizers for Startup West Michigan are Aaron Schaap, founder of Elevator Up, and Amanda Chocko, program director for Momentum-MI.  Their hope is that events like this will help promote a "start-up" mentality in West Michigan, as well as to provide individuals with direct, immediate feedback and help them gain experience and confidence in selling their ideas to potential investors and partners.

At this event, the five presenters included:

Joe Meckley, founder of DoneLocal.com.  Meckley began his pitch with a story of frustration in finding a reliable service to get a tree removed from his property.  His idea is to create an online community of service providers that connects their work with individuals needing  that specific service.  

Jenny White is the founder of MomsinTow.com . White pitched an online community for active moms featuring a variety of resources, services and information for mothers and their children.

John Hwang pitched Inspirehq.com .  Hwang presented his vision for an online service that was an alternative to a "spreadsheet" system used by many churches and non-profits to manage their membership directories.

Jess Tomaz, co-founder (along with her husband Al) of JaiPlace, had recently completed the Momentum-MI program and used this opportunity to further refine her pitch as they prepare to secure second-round funding for their online community that promotes healthy and sustainable lifestyles.

Daniel Morrison presented his idea for LetsFondo.com.  Morrison's vision is to create a site where individuals can create and share "to-do" lists with friends and colleagues in a fun and effective way.

Besides the actual pitch and the "Q & A," everyone that attended provided written feedback and voted on who was most effective with their pitch.  On this night, Jenny White of Moms In Tow walked away with a trophy and file full of feedback about her venture.

For information on the next event, you can visit the Startup West Michigan page.  You can also visit the websites of each individual's business for contact information and to learn more about their specific venture.

John Rumery is the Innovation and Jobs Editor for Rapid Growth Media. He is an educator, board member of AimWest, WYCE music programmer, entrepreneur, raconteur and competitive barbecuer living in Grand Rapids, MI.  He can be reached at InnovationandJobs@RapidGrowthMedia.com

For story tips you can e-mail info@rapidgrowthmedia.com

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