Skip to main content

Hang 10 Poké wins 2022 NEW Launch Alliance Pitch Event

AntiMussel, Starr Merrie Native Gifts take second and third, respectively

share arrow printer bookmark flag

December 5, 2022

ASHWAUBENON – That’s a wrap for New North, Inc.’s 2022 pitch contests.

Eight finalists from four qualifying events throughout Northeast Wisconsin – Audible, Fast Pitch, LevelUp and Accelerate Sheboygan County – pitched their business concepts one last time at the NEW Launch Alliance Pitch Event, held Dec. 1 at TitletownTech in Green Bay.

“We have so many great new business ideas – across a wide number of industries – underway here in the New North region,” Barb LaMue, president and CEO of New North, said. “We have held the pitch competition for several years, and I have to say each year the range of business ideas and quality of the presentations continues to get stronger.”

Fond du Lac Entrepreneur Kean O’Brien, the brains behind Hang 10 Poké – a restaurant offering a variety of fresh poké bowls that cater to different tastes and provide a fresh alternative to fast-food and grab-and-go options – took home first place and the top prize of $2,000.

“Winning the NEW Launch Alliance pitch competition and the prize money that comes with that will let me nail the first impression in my new location,” O’Brien, who has spent seven years in the food-service industry, said. “I can create the feel we’re looking for. It will help my vision come true.”

That vision – a permanent Hang 10 Poké location – is set to open the week of Dec. 5 at 74 S. Main St., Suite 104, in Fond du Lac.

O’Brien said Hang 10 Poké has historically catered primarily to a lunch crowd but said it will expand more into dinner hours with its new location.

More information on Hang 10 Poké can be found at,

Second place
Second place and $1,000 in prize money went to AntiMussel.

Presented by Tyler Rezachek, AntiMussel is a pre-seed, prototype-stage company that is dedicated to removing invasive mussel species from public and private waterways and converting them into the world’s only source of renewable calcium carbonate, which is used in products like paper, paint, pharmaceuticals and plastics.

A lifelong fisherman, Rezachek said he “saw a problem and developed a solution.”

He said he’s appreciated the exposure the pitch contests have provided him and his company.

Rezachek said AntiMussel will carry out a pilot program in spring 2023, conducting a full-scale cleanup of a mussel infestation.

He said the work will provide a real-life case study to help attract future engagement and investment.

Third place
Entrepreneur Eliza Skenandore Starr Merrie Native Gifts ended the evening in third place.

The minority-owned small business is headed up by Skenandore and her husband Shawn – both of whom are currently studying entrepreneurship at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

“We are a minority-owned business run by a husband-and-wife team,” Skenandore said. “We are both Oneida, grew up on the Oneida Indian Reservation and went through the Oneida Nation School System. We want to share our culture with others and help those who didn’t grow up surrounded by the culture have a better understanding of who they are.”

Skenandore said Starr Merrie Native Gifts offers culture presentations for institutions seeking diversity programming for its students, staff and/or patrons.

She said its services can be provided through web-conferencing tools or in-person learning with hands-on displays. 
Starr Merrie Native Gifts also sells products through social media and in the community to help Native Americans looking to make regalia and contemporary art.

Skenandore expects to launch an E-commerce website and a physical location in Green Bay in early 2023.

She said winning the $500 prize from the NEW Launch Alliance Pitch Event will enable her to place a larger wholesale order the next time she orders supplies, helping her margins.

Broader reach
Along with receiving prize money, the three winners will be invited to give an update to an even wider investor and business audience during the New North Summit, scheduled for June 8, 2023, at Lambeau Field.

Others making entrepreneurial pitches at the competition were: E-PT Solutions (presented by Fue Moua), GlobaLASEReach (presented by Diedre Cahill on behalf of Nolan Hetz), Nature Packaged (presented by Dan TenNapel), ReBOOK Travels (presented by Cody Kirchman) and The Honest Cannabis Company (presented by Joshua Dudley and Brittney Renee).

Judges for the pitch competition were Mark Burwell of Evolutions, Jake Erbs of WBD, Israel Squires of Midpoint Ventures, Anna Steinfest of AFF Research and Nischal Thapa of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

A total of 34 entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas at the local qualifiers during Startup Week in Wisconsin, held Nov. 14-18.

share arrow printer bookmark flag

Trending View All Trending