Andrew Wimer
Andrew Wimer · September 23, 2021

Six South Side businesses will compete October 21 in the finals of the eighth annual South Side Pitch. As it did last year, the competition is highlighting existing businesses that are taking on the challenges of 2021 in new and unique ways. This year contestants will give their pitches to the judges at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center with audience members able to tune in live online and vote for their favorite. The six finalists below will compete to win several prizes, including a total of $20,000 in cash prizes.

  • Blossom Girls Network – an intimate and fun learning package that helps girls and tweens understand the changes in their bodies during puberty.
  • D. Jones Construction – a Black and woman-owned general contracting firm offering full construction services.
  • Last Lap Cornerstore – a Black and LatinX-owned running store on the South Side.
  • Piggyback Network – a youth transportation network inspired by the busy day-to-day activities of parents and their children.
  • Sista Afya Community Mental Wellness – a social enterprise that provides low-cost mental wellness services that center the experiences of Black women.
  • Trading Races – a card game that helps educate students about Black history.

“Small businesses are the heart of South Side communities and many are confronting the challenges of these unique times with boldness and creativity,” said ­­­­­­­­­­­­­Beth Kregor, the director of the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago. “South Side Pitch, now in its eighth year, is again eager to spotlight the entrepreneurs and small business owners working to build up their communities. As we do every year, we have a great group of finalists and can’t wait to hear their pitches.”

South Side Pitch allows incredible entrepreneurs to share their success stories and the impacts their businesses have in a “Shark Tank”-style contest. Prior winners have used their prizes to expand their businesses and create new jobs. Last year’s first-place winner, The Black Mall, used its prize money to support their efforts connecting Black-owned businesses. Since then, they’ve partnered with over 250 businesses to redirect and recycle over $800,000 towards Black-owned businesses.

South Side Pitch is hosted by the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship. The contest is sponsored by the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the University of Chicago Office of Civic Engagement. To learn more, visit RSVP here.

The Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship provides free legal assistance, access to resources and advocacy for low-income Chicago entrepreneurs. To learn more about the IJ Clinic, visit