Michigan Women Forward selects pitch competition winners


Michigan Women Forward selected the first-place winners of last week’s virtual WomanUp & Pitch competition.

Michigan Women Forward (MWF), a statewide organization focused on creating an inclusive economy for the state of Michigan so that all women and girls can reach their full potential, hosted the Virtual WomanUp & Pitch Competition on Thursday. The event featured eight women entrepreneurs from West Michigan presenting their business plans to a panel of business leaders and an audience of community leaders, business owners and potential investors.

The first-place winners of the Grand Rapids competition were:

  • Lifestyle category — Felisha Rodriguez, Wear Your Curls, who received $10,000, plus $1,000 as the audience choice winner
  • Growth category — Eva Marie Gugino, Goo Genius Draw Club Online, who received $10,000

“The WomanUp & Pitch event … hones the business and presentation skills of participants, fosters cooperation and collaboration, and draws well-deserved attention to the incredible wealth of talent and creativity of Michigan’s women entrepreneurs,” said Carolyn Cassin, president and CEO, Michigan Women Forward. “We’re very proud to do what we can to help these … women build businesses that benefit their communities.”

The WomanUp & Pitch virtual event was sponsored by the Consumers Energy Foundation.

The West Michigan judges were Lauren Youngdahl Snyder, vice president, customer experience, Consumers Energy; Brad Kessel, president, Independent Bank; and Diana Sieger, president, Grand Rapids Community Foundation.

Prior to the pitch competition, MWF paired each finalist with a coach and mentor. The coaches worked with the finalists to develop their comprehensive business plan and practice their pitches.

The six other Grand Rapids growth and lifestyle category finalists were Happy Bar Services, Hey Sugar, Live Your Song LLC, Jessica Ludlow LLC, Local Barter Market and Mogo Fuel LLC.

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