Pitch Ypsi, a business pitch competition started in 2017, is asking for community feedback to shape the future of the competition. Organizers are hosting a community feedback forum from 4:30-7 p.m. at SPARK East, 215 W. Michigan Ave. in downtown Ypsilanti on Wednesday, Jan. 10.
The nonprofit gave away a $5,000 prize at each of two competitions in 2017, both of which drew strong interest, according to competition founder and Ann Arbor serial entrepreneur Al Newman.
"The planning committee's original goal was to get 50 people to attend the first event," Newman says, but 195 of the free tickets to the event were snapped up almost immediately, and 62 applicants applied for the competition. "The response far exceeded our expectations."
However, organizers received some constructive criticism that has led them to rethink a few aspects of the competition.
"The leadership team should more reflect the community," Newman says, so broadening the planning team and leadership is a top priority.
At least one participant at the last pitch competition was upset that a company based in Pittsfield Township won the second competition in 2017, and Newman says the parameters for the competition should have been better explained to the community.
"The planning team understand that the contestants needed to be from the two eastern Washtenaw County ZIP codes (48197 and 48198) but didn't communicate that very well," Newman says. He adds that though the word "Ypsi" is in the title of the competition, the goal is really to promote entrepreneurship and business growth in the whole eastern half of the county.
Community members are invited to tonight's meeting to provide any and all feedback. Newman says the plan is to have at least one Pitch Ypsi event in 2018, with the first probably happening in the second quarter of the year, but no dates have been set yet.
More information about the community feedback forum is available at Pitch Ypsi's Facebook event page.
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.