November 23rd, 2021
The Right Place, Michigan Outdoor Recreation Industry Office and MEDC partner on virtual pitch event
The first-of-its-kind pitch competition focused on providing growth opportunities to outdoor recreation small businesses. Entrepreneurs from Oceana, Newaygo, Lake and Mason Counties were invited to submit their ideas for consideration. Seven finalists were chosen to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges via Zoom on October 27. The top five participants received $5,000 worth of business support services to help advance their business idea.
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), The Right Place, Inc. and The Michigan Outdoor Recreation Industry Office partnered last month on a first-of-its-kind pitch competition focusing on providing growth opportunities to outdoor recreation small businesses. Entrepreneurs from Oceana, Newaygo, Lake and Mason Counties were invited to submit their ideas for consideration. Seven finalists were chosen to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges via Zoom on October 27. The top five participants received $5,000 worth of business support services to help advance their business idea.
The five winners and their ideas: (in alphabetical order by last name)
- Theresa Irving, Duneberry Farms in Oceana County. Disc golf course with pro shop to be located on her Silver Lake area U-Pick fruit farm. Opening 2022.
- Tim Liberty, Camp Box in Newaygo County. Rental, delivery, set up and tear down of camping and outdoor recreation supplies. Launching in 2022 with 50-mile service area surrounding Newaygo County.
- Kayleen Moffit, Grip & Rip Disc Golf in Mason County. Only disc golf retail shop in Michigan, providing lessons, tournaments and youth programming. Currently open in Ludington.
- Joseph Neumann, North Rivers Lodge in Lake County. Rustic resort offering flyfishing lessons and a new fly shop on site, expanding to year-round use. Currently open in Luther.
- Mark Robbins, Fishin Freakz in Oceana County. Fishing tackle (floats, lines, hooks) design and sales currently being distributed to 40 stores after only just officially launching in May 2021.
The MEDC provided $25,000 for this event. In lieu of cash prizes, winners received prize packages worth up to $5,000. Local service providers were identified to create the prize packages, including services such as merchandising, photography, and geo-targeted marketing. Each finalist was able to choose the support package that best fits their business. This unique event not only supported budding entrepreneurs, but also supported several local companies, further strengthening Michigan’s supply chain.
The companies providing services to the winners:
- BrandMark Goods: Promotional merchandising
- Rightside Design Group: Brand strategy, graphic design, illustration, web design, videography, advertising and marketing promotion
- The Product Greenhouse: Product development, manufacturing, and logistics
- Fuze Media Group: Geo-Targeted Marketing
- Aaron Peterson Studios: Photography and videography
- David Ollila Co-Founder of 100K ideas will also provide counseling sessions with entrepreneurs
- Maia Turek, Resource Development Specialist, State of Michigan Department of Natural Resources
- Brad Garmon, Director, Michigan Outdoor Recreation Industry Office
- David Ollila, Co-founder, 100K Ideas
- Karen Strough, Partner/Owner, Donnelly-Strough Co., Sales Agency
- Julie Burrell, Newaygo County Business Development Manager, The Right Place, Inc.
- Jodi Nichols, Lake and Oceana County Business Development Coordinator, The Right Place, Inc.
Entrepreneurship continues to be critical to the success of our regional communities, especially as we recover from the pandemic. When people start and grow businesses, they contribute to the economic diversity of their area. These unique local businesses become differentiators for their communities. The counties of Lake, Newaygo, Mason and Oceana boast unique environments, ripe with opportunity for the outdoor recreation industry.
The Right Place’s Julie Burrell and Jodi Nichols partnered with Brad Garmon from the Michigan Outdoor Recreation Industry Office to plan the event, review applications and assemble the review panel.
“Now, more than ever, we need to support both entrepreneurs and existing small businesses, and this partnership with the MEDC, Pure Michigan Business Connect and Michigan Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, was the perfect match. I am thrilled we were able to bring this opportunity to Newaygo, Oceana, Lake & Mason Counties,” said Julie Burrell, Newaygo County Business Development Manager for The Right Place.
“Entrepreneurs and startups are such a key part of our rural economies. The winners of this pilot competition will receive the support needed to help them not only grow their businesses but to also positively impact their local economies. Our communities are very grateful to MEDC for launching this support program in our area where outdoor recreation is a leading industry,” said Jodi Nichols, Lake and Oceana County Business Development Coordinator for The Right Place.
“Michigan has made a commitment to support and grow the outdoor recreation economy,” said Brad Garmon, Director of the Michigan Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, which was created by Governor Whitmer in 2019. “Part of our strategy is focused on helping identify and support the small businesses and entrepreneurs who are constantly innovating new products and services to help people enjoy the outdoors, and we are excited to partner with organizations like The Right Place and the MEDC to leverage resources, services and industry expertise to support them. The outdoors are a powerhouse of not only health and enjoyment, but for our small retailers, designers, suppliers, and manufacturers, who can all benefit from better understanding and access to an outdoor recreation economy that accounted for $689 billion in gross output and 1.8 percent of the country’s total gross domestic product in 2020.”