Five Entrepreneurs Compete for $5,000 at Lakeshore Fab Lab on May 30

5x5 Night logo

StartGarden’s exciting monthly 5×5 Night competition for a $5,000 prize comes to the Lakeshore Fab Lab in downtown Muskegon on Wednesday, May 30, when five entrepreneurs will be allotted only five minutes each to pitch their ideas to five judges. Free and open to the public, doors open at 5 p.m.

The presentations, which begin at 5:30 p.m. in the adjacent MCC Sturrus Technology Center Lounge, will be followed by a reception for participants and visitors in the Lakeshore Fab Lab while the judges tabulate their votes. Following the announcement of the winners, visitors are encouraged to take a guided tour of the facility.

The five finalists and their ideas for StartGarden’s May 2018 competition in Muskegon are:

  • Tacitus – the Abeshi FYAH Truck, a food truck serving downtown Muskegon with authentic West African cuisine based on his grandma’s West African recipes.
  • Tom Kinczkowski – Just Duckin’ Hunting chairs that feature a backrest for hunters.
  • Emily Austin – Elemental, LLC, creating thermal bras designed with the needs of breast cancer survivors in mind.
  • Jhaelynn Elam – Food Feels Flava (FFF), an organization that offers group travel centered on food experiences instead of food being the accessory to a trip.
  • Destinee Keener-Sargent – Kuntry Cookin’, adding a food truck and new equipment to a Muskegon home-based business that offers ever-changing and unique food choices.

The 5×5 Night competition traces its origins to 2012, when Grand Rapids businessman and philanthropist Rich DeVos provided $15 million to launch StartGarden and its then-weekly 5×5 events. By 2015, the successful concept produced more than 70 prize winners. 5×5 Night underwent a transformation with funding for the now-monthly events coming from a variety of local sponsors.  StartGarden merged with the non-profit E-merge to oversee the competitions.

While 5×5 Night has been held in Muskegon before, this marks the first time for the event at the Lakeshore Fab Lab, which officially opens its doors on June 1.

Laurie Supinski, the StartGarden program manager, sees the importance of the 5×5 Night as more than new businesses receiving vital early stage capital.

“It’s about getting on a stage and explaining what your idea is, what the problem is, and how you are going to address it,” she said. “It’s empowering. It’s real.”