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Regional entrepreneurial pitch contests

Events throughout Northeast Wisconsin set for Nov. 14-18

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October 19, 2022

NORTHEAST WISCONSIN – Those in the entrepreneurship world will tell you that learning how to pitch your idea is one of the most important skills a founder needs to develop.

Having an idea for a product/service/solution is one thing.

Having the capital to develop that idea into a business, is another.

To help entrepreneurs get a jumpstart in their startup journey, New North Inc. – a regional economic development nonprofit – is again hosting local pitch contests in five Northeast Wisconsin counties from Nov. 14-18.

Barb LaMue, president and CEO of New North, said the nonprofit believes that a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem is vital to the success of the regional economy.

“We asked ourselves, ‘how can we help get more business startups to become more successful and what resources they need?’” she said. “These startup events give them more visibility.”

In its third year, LaMue said the events – which are supported by the NEW Launch Alliance of New North Inc., along with Wisconsin Business Development Inc. – are a great way to get the community involved, while at the same time giving budding entrepreneurs a leg up.

“We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from our past campaigns,” she said. “We thank Wisconsin Business Development Inc., for its sponsorship of the local and regional events and the Greater Green Bay Chamber for hosting the application website.”

Ron Franklin, Startup Hub manager for the Greater Green Bay Chamber, said this is the first year the chamber has supported the contest through its website.

“It’s been a pretty big lift from the team and has been in the works for about four or five months – it’s been lots of work,” he said.
LaMue said the NEW Launch Alliance was formed to create a more robust and productive entrepreneurial ecosystem across the 18 counties of the New North region, connecting entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, educators, accelerators and other resources.

Franklin said supporting startups through pitch events like these is important because most entrepreneurs, often risk-takers, are going at it alone.

// Foster making a pitch for his startup – Brat Wave LLC – at the 2021 New North pitch competition. Foster placed third. Jeff Blumb/New North Inc. Photo

“The key to success is collaboration,” he said. “It’s all about networking and engaging like-minded people.”

Contestants – who must be at least 18 years of age – are encouraged to sign up for the pitch event closest to them.
Startups must have generated less than $300,000 in either capital raised and/or revenue received to qualify for the events, and winners from the past two years are not eligible to re-apply.

“If you think of that 18-30 (year old) crowd, they are just starting to figure out what they want to do when they grow up,” Mary Rhode, director of marketing for the Greater Green Bay Chamber, said. “If they’re heading down this entrepreneurial track, to come to an event like this, it can be a massive learning environment for them and help them network.”

Franklin said the events give businesses an opportunity to be noticed by the community and potential investors.

“It’s not about how big of a prize it is – it’s about honing their pitch speech and teaching them the skills they need to collaborate with like-minded people and investors,” he said. “An investor doesn’t want to come in and hear a 30-minute speech – they want to ride the elevator down 30 floors with you and at the end say, ‘I need to speak with you more because this is something we can go forward with.’ We’ve had plenty of successes over the years.”

Prize money
The top two winners from each local contest will receive prize money – $1,000 cash for first place, $500 for second place – with the top winners advancing to the regional competition set for Thursday, Dec. 1, where they will compete for additional funding for their business ideas and broadened their investor visibility.

LaMue said prize money at the regional event is $2,000 for first place, $1,000 for second place and $500 for third place.

“Once people get the attention of going through the local competitions and advancing, we encourage them to compete statewide,” she said.

LaMue said winners will also be invited to give an update on their startups at the New North Summit June 8, 2023, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.

Pitch contests (see sidebar for more details) are open to all residents located in Northeast Wisconsin, or those looking to launch a business in the New North region.

The deadline for entry by uploading pitch ideas to is Oct. 31.

LaMue said pre-pitch workshops will be held for all applicants.

2021 winner
The winner of the 2021 pitch event was 20-year-old entrepreneur Emilee Rysticken, a Two Rivers native who owns multiple Northeast Wisconsin businesses.

// Rysticken, owner of The High Lift LLC, won the 2021 New North pitch competition. Jeff Blumb/New North Inc. Photo

During last year’s event, Rysticken pitched her idea for High Lift LLC coffee shop – a coffee and community space located in a former car wash in her hometown.

The space is currently under construction and will include two, 52-foot murals on both sides of the tunnel, glass garage doors, outdoor seating with picnic tables and a fenced-in dog area.

LaMue said Rysticken has a “can-do attitude.”

“When she bought the real estate in Two Rivers, it was a service station, and she kept the hoist used to lift cars,” she said. “She wanted to retrofit this building herself, so she took a welding class at NWTC (Northeast Wisconsin Technical College). She did some tiling and has been working on the electrical system and the plumbing – she’s dynamic.”

Rysticken also owns and operates two Scream ‘N Conuts ice cream shop locations – one in Two Rivers and the other in Suamico.

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