The Right Place selects MIpitch competition winners

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From left: MIpitch winners Jessica Deshane, Deb Brimmer, Kim Williams, Cari Scholtens and Isaac Blough Courtesy The Right Place

The Right Place selected winners of a new entrepreneurial competition, MIpitch, held Tuesday, Sept. 22 at Candlestone Golf Resort in Belding.

The event is designed to inspire and create entrepreneurial growth in Montcalm and Ionia counties. Finalists presented their pitches to compete for cash prizes to help bring their ideas into fruition.

Jessica Deshane, of Portland, placed first with her idea, iDrive Academy, a driver education business focused on building young driver confidence and situational experience by incorporating virtual driving simulation technology in addition to the traditional, on-the-road experience. Depending on when and where the student takes traditional driver’s education, they aren’t exposed to as many real-world driving elements as they will be when fully licensed. Examples: no experience driving on snowy roads if they take class during the summer, and no experience in busy, metropolitan environments if class is based in a rural community. The incorporation of this new technology is designed to allow students to gain experience in these environments before actually getting behind the wheel.

Final standings

  • First: Jessica Deshane, iDrive Academy — $5,000 prize
  • Second: Cari Scholtens, Drk Chocolates — $3,000 prize
  • Third: Deb Brimmer, Studio 55 — $1,500 prize
  • Fourth: Kim Williams, T.R.A.I.N. 24/7 — $1,000 prize
  • Fifth: Isaac Blough, Kingdom Woodworks — $500 prize

Event steering committee

  • Amber Rood, The Daily News/Belding Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Linda Curtis, Ionia Downtown Development Authority
  • Kat Reed, Ionia Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Gae Donovan-Wolfe, Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Tina Conner Wellman, city of Portland DDA
  • Ryan Wilson, Ionia County Economic Alliance Board of Directors
  • Dave Seppala, Isabella Bank/Montcalm Economic Alliance chair
  • Dan Mitchell, Mercantile Bank
  • Harmony Nowlin, Consumers Energy

Competition judges

  • Julie Burrell, The Right Place
  • George Fotis, Michigan Small Business Development Center
  • Rob Spohr, Montcalm Community College
  • Rodney Hensley, Sozo Coffee Roasting, Ionia
  • Jessica Tramontana, Consumers Energy

 Event sponsors

  • Presenting sponsor: Consumers Energy
  • Partner sponsors: Isabella Bank, Michigan One Community Credit Union
  • Community partners: Ionia Area Chamber, Belding Area Chamber, Greenville Area Chamber
  • Community sponsors: Mercantile Bank, Candlestone Golf & Resort, city of Ionia DDA, Ionia County Community Foundation, Montcalm Community College, United Way of Montcalm & Ionia Counties

More information about the event is online.

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