As Comerica Hatch Detroit starts voting, last year's winner ready to set up shop
While online voting opens Monday for 10 semifinalists in the 2012 Comerica Hatch Detroit contest, last year's inaugural winner says winning has been "invaluable" as he prepares to open his Midtown shop in October.
Among the 10 businesses vying in this year's contest for $50,000 to help launch or expand their business are a vegan café, wine bar, cosmetics maker, fashion designers and a water sports partnership.
Meanwhile, 2011 winner Joe Posch, a 43-year-old merchandising consultant, is preparing to open a Midtown home furnishings shop by late October in the new Auburn Building residential-retail project at Cass and Canfield.
Last year's $50,000 award instantly made him "a credible tenant for my landlords," Posch said. "It also makes a huge impact on the scope of inventory I am able to bring into the shop -- a good variety of items at varied price points. The contest has also been invaluable in terms of advance publicity."
The 10 entrepreneurs in the semifinal emerged as nominees after reviewers considered more than 250 business plans. Daily online voting at hatchdetroit.com opens at 10 a.m. Monday and runs for a week.
The contest is conducted by Hatch Detroit, a nonprofit that supports independent local retailers with education, exposure, mentoring and this second year of competition for a prize from Comerica Bank.
Some applicants have run home-based businesses or "pop-up" temporary sites and feel ready for the next level. Others want to apply corporate experience in their own operations.
Those vying to be leader of the pack this fall include Kim Dao Waldis, a 1979 immigrant who runs a Vietnamese restaurant in Clawson and envisions a second one in Midtown. She earned a business management degree from Adrian College in 1992, and said in her submission she has "realized the American Dream and wants to share it with people in Detroit."
Three young partners in Detroit River Sports want to rent kayaks, canoes and paddle boards at the Creekside neighborhood and guide river or canal explorers.
Another entrant, globe-trotting Emily Miller, proposes a craft beers retail shop and tasting location called the Collective Tap. She aims at "customers in the 21- to 40‐year‐old age range who value community involvement, quality and an easy access point to culture.
"The 21‐year‐old Wayne State student, the 30‐year‐old Detroit City Futbol League participant, and the 42‐year‐old father will be our base," Miller said in her submission.
Other semifinalists propose a West Village beer garden, a Midtown tapas wine bar with a chef from Spain, a Midtown vegan soul food café, a specialty denim retailer, a pie company with offbeat flavors, a boutique with U.S.-made fashions and a shop with "handmade luxury cosmetics for professional makeup artists and women of all walks of life."
Each entrant spreads the word via social media, e-blasts, business websites and the clever campaigns you'd expect from imaginative entrepreneurs. "People are really voting on the idea more than the person," says Vittoria Katanski, 40, executive director of Hatch Detroit since March.
The top four finalists will be announced Sept. 19 and interviewed by judges Sept. 26. Public voting reopens from 8:30 p.m. that evening until noon Sept. 27 – five hours before the $50,000 winner is announced, based on web votes and a judging panel.
The nonprofit Hatch Detroit was founded by Ted Balowski, an account executive at CareTech Solutions Inc., and Nick Gorga, a partner at Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP.
When: Sept. 10-17.
Format: Up to four semifinalists can be endorsed once daily.
Round 2: Endorse one of top four finishers between 8:30 p.m. Sept. 26 and noon Sept. 27.
Result: Announced 5 p.m. on Sept. 27.