Rooting for Entrepreneurs on the South Side of Chicago

The Curse of the Billy Goat supposedly placed on the Chicago Cubs in 1945 has finally been broken. And while baseball season is over, the IJ Clinic is still excited about a different type of game—the Third Annual South Side Pitch, our Shark Tank-style event that celebrates the vibrancy, innovation and hustle on Chicago’s South Side.

The South Side Pitch gives budding entrepreneurs the chance to pitch their business ideas to a panel of expert judges from the finance, business and legal worlds to win cash and other prizes. And while Chicago’s South Side is often associated with violence and poverty, this event highlights the Clinic’s years-old campaign to highlight the growing number of small-business owners who are working hard to better their community.

More than 160 small-business owners applied for the chance to share their business ideas with important Chicago business leaders (including the vice president of Whole Foods), and the six finalists did not disappoint. Our first-place winner, Excuse Me Officer, is an app designed to increase law enforcement transparency. Our second-place winner was Oooh Wee! Sweet Tea, which sells delicious infused teas at stores across Chicago. The third-place winner was Justice of the Pies, a small bakery that sells unique goods like smoked salmon quiche and sweet potato praline pie. Rounding out the finalists were a group of female veterans selling saffron from Afghanistan, a company making neckwear using a 3-D printer, and a startup that saves car owners time and hassle by taking vehicles to the mechanic for them.

The South Side Pitch has turned into one of the must-attend events for entrepreneurs, their customers and community members. Not only does it give business owners a chance to refine and reshape their business pitches and promote their ideas, it also helps community members see first-hand how economic liberty plays a key role in improving their neighborhood. At the IJ Clinic, we are proud to lift up and highlight people who are building their communities through entrepreneurship.

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