The Startup Chippewa Valley week is a celebration of everything entrepreneurial, highlighting the importance of entrepreneurship and the organizations and people working to develop and shape the valley’s thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem. Held during the month of November, at the heart of Startup Chippewa Valley, is CCEDC’s Honeycomb HATCH21 Pitch Competition. This well attended Shark Tank – like business pitch competition brought some of Wisconsin’s top entrepreneurs to the stage to compete for a cash prize, and a package made up of in-kind services and products. Eight entrepreneurs presented their sweetest business ideas, products, or plans to a panel of judges while over 100 attendees encouraged them and voted for their favorite.

Knowing that entrepreneurs are not alone, they have a network of supporters to encourage them and listen to their ideas can make all the difference. Honeycomb HATCH21 provided participants- before their pitch- the opportunity to engage and connect with many of the Western Wisconsin’s leading financial institutions, investors, and like-minded individuals at a VIP Honey Reception.

Since its inception in 2018, the Chippewa Valley HATCH Pitch Competition has assisted many entrepreneurs throughout the Chippewa Valley in improving their pitch, introducing them to capital sources, and mentoring them for the next stage of their development journey.  By pitching to a panel of experienced judges during HATCH, these entrepreneurs got the exposure they needed, a chance for capital, and an opportunity to make valuable connections with the buzzing bees in the local business world. Dr. Drew Gintner, D.C. (Midwest Chiropractic Neurology) was chosen by the judges as the winner of the Honeycomb HATCH21, and was awarded $5,000. Gintner plans to release his product, the Hyper-Holster, once he identifies the right manufacturing partner.

Par our HATCH traditions, we also extended the power of choice to the audience. Audience members were able to vote for their favorite via an internet poll, and the winner, Rebecca Denney, received a free 3-month flex membership to CoLab and a $500 certificate to Badgerland Printing. Denney is the owner of Raybay’s Donut Co., a luxury donut experience here in the Chippewa Valley. She says that her secret of success is in the rich, buttery brioche yeast dough.

Several new additions were added to HATCH21; namely an interlude program called Honey Highlights. This was a five-minute presentation from a successful entrepreneur that was able to find success in the Chippewa Valley with the CCEDC’s help. Both of the speakers were in fact past participants of HATCH! In addition, samples from local food entrepreneurs were distributed among the catering that brought variety and excitement to the table. Fast Fuel (Eau Claire), last year’s winner, provided their Energii Balls, Yellowstone Cheese (Cadott) provided cheese curds and cheese trays, and the Red Cedar Honey Farm (New Auburn) provided honey sticks and lemon honey water. They also provided beekeeping decorations that truly set the stage for Honeycomb HATCH. One of the presenters, Andrew Gehrke, even had his debut product, Old Fashioned cocktail syrup, available for attendees to try.