Got a business idea? You could receive $50,000 through the Momentum competition.

May 22, 2017

Got a business idea? You could receive $50,000 through the Momentum competition. 

PERE MARQUETTE TOWNSHIP– One lucky entrepreneur with a viable business idea or with less than $100,000 in sales annually will win $50,000 in prize money in a “Shark Tank”-style competition in front of a live audience Sept. 15. And the only catch is the winner must start or relocate the business in Mason County.

Administered by the Ludington & Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Momentum Business Plan Competition is in its third year of offering a $50,000 cash prize to an eligible independent for-profit or non-profit venture with a viable business idea, plan or invention; or an existing organization or company with less than $100,000 in sales or revenue annually. The winner also receives advising from the Momentum board of directors comprised of local CEOs and business leaders, as well as the 2016 winner. New this year is a second prize of $5,000 provided by the Mason County Growth Alliance. Eligible contestants can upload a business plan to momentumstartup.org until July 31. Entrance requirements and rules also can be found on the contest website, momentumstartup.org.

“We’re thrilled to open our third year of this competition that has helped launch two successful businesses in Mason County and hopefully many more to come,” said Ludington & Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Kathy Maclean. “The Momentum competition is all about fostering the entrepreneurial spirit and giving small business owners the resources to succeed while showcasing how regions like Mason County are ideal innovation incubators.”

Interested applicants should submit business plans according to the format on the website by July 31. (Applicants needing initial assistance in creating a business plan can contact Tom Hinman at the Ludington and Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce at [email protected] or 231-845-0324.) On Aug. 7, a selection committee will shortlist applicants to ten candidates. Five finalists will be selected Aug. 21, who will receive the opportunity to meet with a mentor from the Ludington & Scottville Area Chapter of SCORE (national nonprofit that helps small businesses and entrepreneurs) for coaching and feedback. Based on that feedback, the finalists can improve their plans and submit revised versions by Sept. 11, ultimately pitching their ideas in person before the Momentum board and public audience on Friday, Sept. 15, 6 to 8 p.m. at West Shore Community College, 3000 N Stiles Rd., Victory Township. Past Momentum contestants are allowed to reapply.

The Momentum Business Plan Competition again will coordinate with Startup Weekend Ludington July 28 – 30 at Camp Douglas Smith on Hamlin Lake in Ludington, part of a global grassroots movement for entrepreneurs. The winning idea from Startup Weekend Ludington will receive an automatic slot in the Top 10 of the Momentum Business Plan Competition as long as the submitting team complies with the Momentum application requirements.

“The Momentum Business Plan Competition has done exactly what we hoped it would do – create an entrepreneurial spirit in Mason County and build a support network for them,” said John Wilson, chairman of the Momentum board, CEO of Western Land Services and chairman of the Pennies from Heaven Foundation that funds the contest award. “We are also excited this year to get additional prize money from the Mason County Growth Alliance to help more entrepreneurs overcome financial hurdles that could keep them from launching their businesses – plus the continued support of the Chamber and SCORE in conjunction with West Shore Community College.  The team is working well together!”

2016 Momentum Winner Thriving

Last year’s Momentum winner was Kandy Potter who pitched her Riverton Township goat dairy farm, KandyLand Dairy & Creamery. A fourth-generation Michigan farmer, Potter started making cheese and yogurt in 2008 with three rescue goats, which is now a herd of 100. She and her fiancé, Steve Volkers, bought a 45-acre farm in Scottville in 2013, spending two years building a pasture, parlor and milk house and pursuing a creamery license to make cheese and yogurt. They obtained their license in 2015, making KandyLand the first and only Grade A-licensed goat creamery in Michigan. Until the Momentum competition, Potter had been processing cheese and yogurt at The Starting Block non-profit kitchen incubator in Hart.

With the 2016 Momentum grant, Potter and Volkers built an on-site creamery at their farm to produce cheese and yogurt locally and in larger quantities, as well as installed a pasteurizer, bottle filler, milk chiller and bottling line. They also built an aging room with viewing area for visitors to see the pasteurizing, cheese making and milk bottling processes. Additionally, they added a retail area slated to open Memorial Day weekend where people can buy goat cheeses (soft goat cheeses, feta, Gouda, Camembert and Bucheron) plus vegetables and eggs. Bottled goat milk and yogurt will be for sale in the near future – and once that happens, it will be the only goat farm in Michigan selling bottled milk and drinkable yogurt.

“None of this would have been possible if it weren’t for the Momentum Competition,” said Potter. “We’re way ahead on our planning. It would have been a whole lot of bank financing if it weren’t for Momentum. This is a godsend for us.”

In addition to business improvements, Potter partnered with 2015 Momentum Business Plan Competition winner, Andy Thomas of Starving Artist Brewing, on a beer- and cheese-pairing dinner at downtown Ludington’s Blu Moon Bistro, and they are planning a farm-to-table dinner this summer at her farm along with Manistee’s Iron Works Café for catering. She also started “Yoga with Goats,” a yoga class that pairs yoga with roaming baby goats. Her next class is May 31 from 5 to 7 p.m. and will continue on Wednesdays in June. Interested participants can pre-register for each $20 class by calling 231.578.5339. Events, visiting hours and other business updates are posted at Kandyland Dairy & Creamery on Facebook.

Competition Background

The Momentum Business Plan Competition was spearheaded in 2015 by Pennies from Heaven founder John Wilson to foster and grow the entrepreneurial spirit of Mason County where he made his business mark. The Momentum Business Plan Competition board of directors is comprised of local CEOs and business leaders from Mason County.

The Ludington & Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce administers the program to encourage a new business to come to Mason County through the competition and to demonstrate that small towns like Ludington and Scottville are ripe environments for small businesses to grow and thrive. A case in point – approximately 40 percent of the 500 Chamber members are small businesses with less than five employees. Since 2015, the Chamber has seen 46 small businesses open in the downtown district alone.

About the Momentum Business Plan Competition

Launched in 2015, the Momentum Business Plan Competition awards one business entrepreneur a prize of $50,000 to start or move an early-stage business to Mason County. A collaborative effort by Pennies from Heaven Foundation, Floracraft, Ludington & Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce, Ludington Daily NewsMetalworks, West Shore Bank and Western Land Services, the competition is meant to assist business formation in Mason County by providing financial resources and mentoring to expedite the startup phase and increase the likelihood of success. Prize money and in-kind support is provided by the previously-mentioned organizations who share a passion for entrepreneurism and for the Mason County community. More information, including rules and eligibility, is available at momentumstartup.org and facebook.com/momentumstartup.

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