It could be said that 2016 is the Year of the Woman – our first female Presidential candidate; women topping the Best Sellers list; women gaining new ground in the business world.
Maybe that is why the Michigan Women’s Foundation (MWF), a non-profit organization that for 30 years has been working to achieve social and economic equality for Michigan’s women and girls, has had such a rich number of finalists for its 2016 Dolphin Tank and the organization’s fifth annual Entrepreneur YOU Pitch Competition.
The contest for Michigan-based female entrepreneurs is presented by MWF in partnership with Springboard Enterprises and sponsored by Consumers Energy Foundation. More than 160 female entrepreneurs submitted their business plans for consideration.
Twenty finalists (10 in SE Michigan; 10 in West Michigan) have been chosen to present in the Dolphin Tank – a kinder, gentler version of the popular television show Shark Tank – where a panel of “dolphins,” comprised of leading female business leaders, will provide feedback, advice and connections for their businesses. All finalists also will compete in the Entrepreneur YOU Pitch Competition, where a select panel of judges will award cash prizes totaling $70,000, as well as pro bono support services and technical assistance for their growing businesses.
Winners will be selected in two categories – growth and lifestyle – and awarded $10,000 for first place, $5,000 for second place and $2,500 for third place. New this year, the audience will be invited to vote for “Best in Tank,” a $1,000 prize.
The live presentations are free and open to the public. The 2016 Dolphin Tanks and Entrepreneur YOU Pitch Competitions will take place: SE Michigan Wednesday, Nov. 9, at 5:30 p.m. at the Detroit Opera House; and in West Michigan Thursday, Nov. 10, at 12:30 p.m. at Grand Valley State University
“I don’t envy our competition judges and the decisions they will have to make, because every year the level of talent, passion and ingenuity we see from our entrepreneur contestants is just so impressive,” said Carolyn Cassin, CEO of MWF. “I am always inspired by the vision of Michigan’s female entrepreneurs and what they have to bring to the table.”
The 10 finalists for the SE Michigan 2016 Dolphin Tank and Entrepreneur YOU Pitch Competition are:
· Clare Fox (age 41; Ferndale) of Mutual Adoration – A design house and experimental craft workshop based in Detroit that focuses on transforming locally sourced reclaimed wood into handcrafted furniture, frames and housewares. www.mutualadoration.com
· LeeAnn Hamilton (age 32; Novi) of Grace Production Services – Manufactures and markets small injection molded and chrome plated parts, ranging from small intricate parts, such as gears or clips, to larger functional decorative parts. www.graceproductionservices.com
· Deidra Hogue (age 42; Sterling Heights) of Traveling Pants Company – A mobile fashion boutique operating in the cargo area of a refurbished 10 x 20’ retired Fed Ex step van. It is fully equipped with a dressing room, full-length mirrors and traditional boutique decor. www.travelingpantsco.com.
· Jane Larson (age 32; Detroit) of Sfumato Fragrances – A fragrance company that makes all-natural, small-batch scents in Detroit, sold through retail boutiques and its online shop. www.sfumatofragrances.com.
· Katie Mann (age 29; Livonia) of 4th Wall Theatre Company – A mobile theatre for people with disabilities, 4th Wall goes to student venues (school, library, etc) and teaches singing, acting and dancing before putting on a final showcase for family and friends. www.4thwallkids.com.
· Kimle Nailer (age 53; Detroit) of Nail-Rite Construction – A women-owned construction company that provides sub-contract services for both residential and commercial projects from hospitals, casinos and office complexes to newly constructed residential and re-habbed projects. www.nailrite.com
· Natalia Petraszczuk (age 37; Sterling Heights) of VizBe – A SaaS (Software as a Service) and employee engagement program. VizBe is a goal-setting platform and resource center that helps employees achieve personal and professional success with the proven power of visualization. www.vizbe.co
· Tami Powell (age 49; South Lyon) of Oxford Recovery Center – A world-renowned functional therapy facility located in South Lyon and Troy, which features a combination of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, intense neuro-physical therapy, nutrition coaching and neurofeedback. www.oxfordrecoverycenter.com
· Lisa Rockwell (age 48; New Hudson) of ADA Candy Florist – ADA Candy Florist combines two popular products into one unique product: chocolate and flowers. www.ada-candy-bouquet.com.
· Sandy Stolkovski (age 42; Northville) of iServe, Inc. – A soft-serve dessert making system for the home, which combines premium ice cream/frozen yogurt and single-serve technology for dispensing machines and pods. www.iserve.cool