Andrew Wimer
Andrew Wimer · July 31, 2018

CHICAGO—Creative entrepreneurs on Chicago’s South Side are busy preparing to demonstrate that they have the most promising idea in order to win the fifth annual South Side Pitch business competition. Since its inception, the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship-hosted competition has been a powerful demonstration that the South Side is home to innovative individuals determined to improve their lives and their community.

South Side Pitch allows promising entrepreneurs to showcase their innovative business ideas in a “Shark Tank” style contest, with the final five contestants presenting their pitches at the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago on October 11. Applicants compete to win several great prizes, including a total of $11,000 in cash prizes.

South Side Pitch welcomes entrepreneurs at all stages—from those at the idea stage to those whose businesses are already up and running—to apply. In the semifinals, a group of applicants will be invited to submit a one-minute video. Five finalists from that pool will have the opportunity to present to a crowd of 250 South Side community members on October 11. The application period for South Side Pitch is now open and will close on August 17. Aspiring entrepreneurs can visit for contest details and to apply.

Prior winners have used their prizes to expand their businesses and create new jobs. Last year’s first-place winner, KaZoom Kids Books, used prize money to market its digital library of multicultural children’s books, available now on the App Store and Google Play. Second-place winner Back of the Yards Coffeehouse and Roastery used prize money to invest in the job-creating part of its business: its budding roastery. Lastly, third-place winner re:work training used prize money to recruit a new executive director. The business selects talented applicants with limited education, trains them on how to sell software and then places them in well-paying software sales roles—free of charge. In 2017, re:work training graduates saw an average salary increase of 239 percent after completing the program.

“Chicagoans don’t often get to hear about the strong entrepreneurial spirit of the South Side, but we’ve seen it energetically demonstrated year after year at South Side Pitch,” said Beth Kregor, the director of the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago. “South Side Pitch is all about giving budding business owners a way to make their dreams reality and also about showing a side of the community that is too often buried under bad headlines.”

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.

South Side Pitch is free and open to the public. To learn more, visit

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