What is Quicken Loans Detroit Demo Day?
As the closing event and party for Detroit Startup Week, Detroit Demo Day features entrepreneurs from across the region as they pitch for a share of the $1.2 million from Quicken Loans. This year, over 500 companies applied and 15 got to pitch. During and immediately after the 90-second pitches for each category, the audience was able to vote via the Detroit Demo Day app. It was a free, engaging, uplifting and impactful evening! There was also a guest performance by Common, which was incredible.

Here is a brief recap of the first place winners from each category (descriptions from the Detroit Demo Day App):

Start: for companies introducing their product or service to market
Lush Yummies Pie Company was built on the founder’s best loved “Lemon Butta Pies” passed down from generation to generation. Lush Yummies Pie Company now fresh bakes Lemon Butta Pies in Detroit with local ingredients and a fourth generation recipe.

Jennifer’s story lifted everyone’s spirit. She was wearing a bright yellow dress with an apron as she explained how her Granddad taught her how to make the family recipe, and how she would expand her business further if granted the $100,000 award. I’m excited to try the lemon butta pie!

Grow: for more established businesses looking to expand locally
The TEN Nail Bar is Detroit’s first premium nail bar experience! The TEN elevates the experience of a routine beauty service in a customer-centric, modern environment for the redeveloped, underserved, city of Detroit. The TEN offers healthy nail care services, complimentary bubbly with each service, and a level of customer service that is absent amongst conventional local nail salons.

The co-founders, Kelli & Anika, pitched the TEN Nail Bar by describing the experience for the typical visitor and defending their business model. As they explained: they are working to meet the high demand of this type of business, are unique because the majority of their staff are women of color, and have an impact as they serve to help everyone feel their best. They received $250,000 to open up new locations. I know where to go for my next pedicure!

Scale: for more established businesses looking to expand nationally
From their facility in Detroit’s Eastern Market, Michigan Farm to Freezer creates frozen fruits and vegetables, harvested fresh from Michigan farms. They serve people who want hearty, flavorful food that is locally grown and minimally processed.

This pitch was particularly persuasive as the owner opened with a personal story: he met a 14 year old in school who’d never eaten a blueberry and did not know how to describe the taste. This business helps ensure that all children, and people more generally, have access to fruits and vegetables. They have a large freezer in Eastern Market and would utilize this money to fill in with more berries from around the state. This business has so much potential to expand their reach given the $300,000 award, as they’ll continue to provide frozen fruits and vegetables to schools and communities!

Detroit Food Academy is a program that works with local educators, chefs and business owners to inspire young Detroiters. De’Shawn Lindsay pitched PopShop, a company that makes handcraft gourmet popsicles in delicious & unique flavors. They won $50,000 to continue to expand their business, using more imperfect produce – that might otherwise be wasted – to create popsicles.

I was super impressed with this pitch and glad to see this program win. I’ll keep an eye out for the PopShop around town.