Rocket Mortgage Detroit Demo Day is an annual pitch competition that invests more than $1 million into Detroit-based, early stage companies with an ambition to scale. Detroit Demo Day is one part of a larger strategy of the Rocket Community Fund to elevate Detroit as a destination for small businesses and high-growth startups by deploying capital and supportive resources.
This past Friday, Rocket Community Fund announced the winners of Rocket Mortgage Detroit Demo Day 2021. This year’s lean and impactful competition featured 15 finalists from a wide variety of industries. In addition to the Start, Pivot, and Scale categories, a new Youth category debuted this year featuring five entrepreneurs between the ages of 8-18.
The biggest winner of the evening was tech platform Athlytic, which also won a People’s Choice Award.
- Athlytic, winner of $125,000 in the “Start” category for companies introducing their product or service. The company was founded by Jared Eummer and Ashton Keys and uses a tech platform to connect athlete influencers and brands for potential marketing deals.
- Soft Goods, winner of $200,000 in the “Pivot” category for companies that have pivoted to meet the needs of the new marketplace. Soft Goods is a custom clothing manufacturer that uses natural and recycled materials. It has done private-label manufacturing for brands such as Shinola/Detroit LLC and Chips Ahoy cookies. It was co-founded by Crain’s 20 in their 20s honoree Josh York.
- Detroit Maid, winner of $250,000 in the “Scale” category for established companies looking to grow nationally. The company is a Detroit-based cleaning service founded by Danielle Smith Parker.
“As a native Detroiter that’s attended every Rocket Mortgage Detroit Demo Day, it’s surreal to be on the other side as a founder,” Athlytic’s Keys said in a statement. “I am thankful for the opportunity to showcase my company and become engrained in the entrepreneur community that is in Detroit. These funds will allow me to expand my business in a way that I have only dreamed.”
The Public was encouraged to vote for their favorite finalists in each category via the People’s Choice Awards on the Detroit Demo Day website. The businesses with the most votes received a $25,000 cash prize:
The competition also featured a competition among entrepreneurs under the age of 18. Those winners were Global Kid Media, $10,000; Carter’s Concessions & Ice Cream, $7,500; and Anansee ($5,000).
Winners of Detroit Demo Day were selected by a panel of entrepreneurs and previous winners. All 15 finalists received an award of $25,000, so every participating business walked away with funding.