5 Detroit women entrepreneurs among 10 finalists to vie for piece of $36,000 in virtual competition


Michigan Women Forward will host the Virtual WomanUp & Pitch competition on February 16, where 10 women entrepreneurs from Southeast Michigan share their business plans with a group of business leaders and an audience of executives, business owners and potential investors.

The 10 finalists in the Growth and Lifestyle Category in Southeast Michigan are:

Ange Zelenak, InkCourage: Selling temporary tattoos, cards and other items with words of encouragement.

Anna Sadovnikova, LiquidGoldConcept Inc, Ypsilanti: Offers health professionals and trainees personal and virtual simulation training in all subjects of mother-child care.

Kayla Laird, Lord Laird’s Premium Lemonade, Flint: Natural and holistic drinks in bottles in different flavors.

Sally Moore, Parker Avenue, Detroit: A relaxing local yarn store that gives Detroiters a rejuvenating sense of comfort and community.

Ashley Williams, RIZZARR, Inc., Detroit: A technology-driven content marketplace where brands can partner with Millennial and Gen Z content creators. RIZZARR acts as an intermediary for brands to find, connect, and work with content creators to leverage their marketing efforts.

Rebecca Altounian, Saliva Systems, Port of Keego: Saliva Systems offers patients a long-term, sustainable and user-friendly solution for oral secretion management.

Lauren Daniels, Sumptuous Spirits, Detroit: A full-service mobile bartender company for social, corporate events, celebrations, and private parties in Metro Detroit.

Sue Kinch, Tangico, Pontiac: A Michigan Custom Gift Maker: Wine Stops, Ornaments, Bottle Openers, Cutting Boards, Key Holders, and Snapi the Single Handed Server.

Jordan Yagiela, Team Yagiela, Detroit: A joinery and housing construction company headquartered in Detroit’s Northweest Goldberg neighborhood, serving primarily Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.

Jeana Harper-Kirkland, Johnson and Harper Creations, LLC (Torso Sweatband (TSB), Detroit: Provides a product based on convenience and solutions to breast care complications.

“The WomanUp & Pitch event is about so much more than a simple pitch competition,” said Carolyn Cassin, president and CEO of Michigan Women Forward, a nationwide organization dedicated to creating an inclusive economy to create in Michigan. “It improves attendees’ business and presentation skills, fosters collaboration and deserves attention to the incredible wealth of talent and creativity of women entrepreneurs in Michigan. We take great pride in doing everything we can to help these 30 women build businesses that benefit their communities. “

In addition to Detroit, virtual pitch competitions were held in Grand Rapids on January 28 and in Jackson on February 4. Each competition consists of 10 finalists with a total of 30 entrants across the state.

Prize money of $ 36,000 will be awarded in each market. Winners in each category and from each region will receive cash prizes: two first prizes of $ 10,000 per location; two second awards of $ 5,000 per location; two third awards of $ 2,500 per location; and one Audience Choice winner of $ 1,000 per location. The general public is invited to attend the event and vote for the Audience Choice winner. The competition will be broadcast live on MWF’s Facebook and YouTube pages from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. To register, click here.

The WomanUp & Pitch event is made possible through sponsorship from the Consumers Energy Foundation, which has been providing $ 850,000 for MWF entrepreneur programs since 2015, including $ 115,000 for this year’s competitions.

“Consumers Energy donated nearly $ 2.5 million to small businesses in Michigan during the COVID-19 pandemic, including $ 200,000 in MWF for the Michigan Entrepreneur Resilience Fund. We strongly believe that helping Michigan’s startup companies and communities is more important than ever, ”said Carolyn Bloodworth, Secretary / Treasurer of the Consumers Energy Foundation, in a press release. “We are excited to continue supporting Michigan Women Forward and this year’s WomanUp & Pitch competitions to provide opportunities for these entrepreneurs.”

Judges in southeast Michigan are Tonya Berry, Vice President, Gas Operations, Consumers Energy; Meredith Freeman, Director, Alignment and Impact Investing, Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation; and Michael Moco, Director, Wealth Management Risk, Comerica Bank.

Before the pitch competition, MWF matched each finalist with a trainer and mentor. The trainers worked with the finalists to develop their business plan and perfect their pitches.


Dusty Kennedy