CHICAGO—Six South Side businesses will compete November 5 in the finals of the seventh annual South Side Pitch. The pitch showcase is transforming for this year, highlighting existing businesses that are taking on the challenges of 2020 in new and unique ways. The contest is going online this year to keep contestants, judges and the audience safe. The six finalists below will compete to win several prizes, including a total of $20,000 in cash prizes—nearly double the amount awarded last year.
- Kido – Children’s shop focused on representation and inclusivity in the South Loop.
- Lemonade Land – Pop-up market for micro Black-owned businesses in the South Shore, Greater Grand Crossing, and Woodlawn areas.
- Maestri Tutoring – Bilingual tutoring center for working-class families in Pilsen.
- New Magnolia Garden Center – A U-pick farm and garden center located in Back of the Yards.
- TheBlackMall.com – A marketplace of Black-owned businesses that includes an online business directory and a brick-and-mortar shop in Chatham. (This business earned its spot by winning the most votes from the public in the semi-final round.)
- Wesley’s Shoes – Sit-and-fit family shoe store serving customers since 1970 in Hyde Park.
“Entrepreneurship is the way to reclaim our communities and be the leaders our children need,” said Keewa Nurullah, owner of Kido. “South Side families deserve bright, colorful spaces and shop owners who treat them with respect.”
“Small businesses are the heart of South Side communities and we need to come together to see them through these tough times,” said Amy Hermalik, the associate director of the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago. “South Side Pitch has long shined a spotlight on entrepreneurs looking to take their first steps into the business world, but this year we thought it was critical to recognize how existing business are showing entrepreneurial spirit in tackling the unique challenges of 2020. We have a great group of finalists and we 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, Dinobi Detergent, used its prize money to increase its marketing efforts and invest more in its product. Since winning, Dinobi Detergent has expanded to more retailers and several online platforms.
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 www.southsidepitch.com.