Editor’s note: This post was originally published September 15, 2020 and was updated on October 20, 2020. Voting for the People’s Choice Award Winners is open from October 20-25, and the public is encouraged to watch the episodes on detroitdemoday.com and vote for their favorite entrepreneurs. Learn more about the finalists and winners in each category here.
In August, the Quicken Loans Community Fund announced that our annual pitch competition Rocket Mortgage Detroit Demo Day would be returning, with a revised format to better meet the needs of local businesses. This year’s rebranded competition includes new categories meant to highlight innovation borne through the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as sustain anchor businesses in need of funding to weather the uncertainty ahead.
Entrepreneurs were invited to submit applications in the following categories: Start, for companies introducing their product or service to market, or who have pivoted to meet the needs of the new marketplace; Sustain, for businesses that serve a community anchors and are seeking support to persevere through the pandemic, and Build, for established businesses that have grown despite the unusual climate and are looking to expand.
Today, Rocket Mortgage Detroit Demo Day is excited to announce the 17 finalists competing for a share of more than $1M of funding in the fourth annual entrepreneurship competition. These finalists will be judged by nationally acclaimed entrepreneurs from across the country.
The Quicken Loans Community Fund narrowed the competitive field of applicants to 100 semi-finalists, and then a diverse panel of Detroit-based entrepreneurs and business leaders identified the 17 finalists who began recording their pitches for video episodes to be released October 20. 11 of these pitches will receive funding ranging from $30,000 – $200,000 to support their business. Entrepreneur pitches and winners to be announced in episodes released October 20 at DetroitDemoDay.com, and voting for three People’s Choice Grant recipients to continue through October 25.
The following companies will be competing for more than $1 million in funding:
Three winners receive up to $75,000 in grant funding:
- Bon Bon Bon– artisanal chocolate maker
- City Bark– community pet supply shop
- The Kitchen By Cooking With Que– demonstration kitchen and culinary shared space
- Narrow Way Café and Shop– coffee shop
- The Peacock Room– women’s boutique
- Pingree Detroit– socially-conscious design and manufacturing house
- Yum Village– Afro-Caribbean restaurant
The New Format
“This year’s Rocket Mortgage Detroit Demo Day finalists include a diverse set of leaders who have built businesses that are an integral part of the fabric of our community and innovated through the current crisis to offer unique products and services,” said Laura Grannemann, Vice President of the Quicken Loans Community Fund, the philanthropic arm of Rocket Mortgage. “In a time when our entrepreneurial community is at risk, it is imperative that we arm Detroit-based small businesses with the capital they need to persevere and prosper.”
Three episodes – one per category – will be hosted by Plain Sight CEO James Chapman, who co-founded Rocket Mortgage Detroit Demo Day with Rocket Mortgage Chairman Dan Gilbert. Chapman previously served as the Entrepreneur in Residence for the Quicken Loans Community Fund before founding Plain Sight, a mobile app that helps users make connections and support their local business community.
“This year’s Rocket Mortgage Detroit Demo Day finalists embody the type of grit and resilience that you can only find in Detroit,” said Chapman. “We have to continue to band together and lift up small and early-stage businesses across Detroit because they are the cornerstones of the community.”
The 90-second finalist pitches, filmed while observing COVID-19 safety protocols and social distancing, will be judged by Candice Matthews Brackeen, Founder and CEO of Hillman and General Partner at Lightship Capital, Jamie Shea, a Detroit-based entrepreneur who also sits on the board of the University of Michigan Social Venture Fund, and Delane Parnell, Founder and CEO of PlayVS.
Each episode will announce the respective category’s winners, but viewers will once again be an indispensable part of the competition – voting for three People’s Choice Grant award recipients. Voting will open on October 20 on DetroitDemoDay.com when the episodes are published, and will continue through October 25. Each category’s People’s Choice Grant recipient will win $25,000.
We are excited for this year’s Rocket Mortgage Detroit Demo Day and are looking forward to seeing how these innovative businesses pitch to the judges. We invite our team members, community partners and the general public to watch Detroit Demo Day and vote for their favorite entrepreneurs beginning October 20.