MUSKEGON, MI – The Black Wall Street Muskegon Business Pitch, a competition to develop innovative business concepts, has more than 30 entries this year, organizers say.
Black Wall Street Muskegon, an organization formed to support Black and Brown-owned businesses in the area, is hosting the day-long event on November 18 from 5:35 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Stevenson Center for Higher Education at the Muskegon Community College.
Lashae Simmons II, the founder and president of Black Wall Street Muskegon, said she looks forward to bringing the competition back with additional opportunities.
“We did it last year, and yes we were able to provide the money aspect of it, but the educational aspect wasn’t quite there,” she said. “And I think we missed the mark, so we had to come back as an organization and refine some things so we started minimizing the disparities in education and entrepreneurial rates in general for people of color.”
The pitch event looks a little different this year. It is divided into two parts: a six-week Black Business Accelerator program on November 4-8, and the program participants’ business pitch presentations to five judges on November 18.
TIED TOGETHER: Muskegon’s Black Business Expo returns downtown for the second time on Saturday
Simmons II said she noticed that Black entrepreneurs need the foundation or basis of understanding to create a pitch deck or SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis.
With this in mind, Simmons II decided to partner with Muskegon Community College and Fab Lab to provide classrooms for program participants. There Henrietta Hadley from the Infinite Solutions Consulting Group teaches how to present ideas and identify target markets once a week.
The participants in the program then present their ideas to five judges at the business pitch event.
“As the founder of Black Wall Street, it’s struck me that there’s a lot of money out here,” Simmons II said. “But it seems like we’re consistently missing the funding mark. And what I want to do is be a facilitator and give these Black and Brown owned companies opportunities to create a program and fund those dreams.”
On November 18, seven finalists will have the opportunity to network and visit other vendors when doors open at 5:35 p.m. The event then officially starts at 6:45 p.m. with the first pitch presentation.
First place winner will receive $5,000, second place winner $500 and third place winner $250.
Simmons II encourages other aspiring entrepreneurs, even if they shy away from it, to be their biggest advocates and attend future business pitch events.
“You have to be willing to have a conversation with anyone who will listen,” she said. “And you have to know how to get to the point. And it’s scary. But if you believe in yourself and if you believe in your product or service, you have to stand up and do it. You cannot let fear dictate potential wealth.”
Michigan’s Best Local Food: Muskegon’s NOVA Super Natural Bakery’s handmade chocolates and baked goods are gluten-free
NOXX Cannabis Opens Second Store in Grand Rapids Aiming to Bring More Black People into the Industry
A new multipurpose learning center opens in Grand Rapids