CHICAGO—Small businesses across the South Side of Chicago are finding creative solutions to confront the economic challenges of 2020. For a seventh year running, the South Side Pitch business competition will highlight inspirational individuals determined to improve their lives and their community. However, unlike the past, this year the competition will focus on existing small businesses that make their neighborhoods great. Also, for the first time in the competition’s history, the public is being invited to pick one of the finalists among the 23 semi-finalists.
Voting is open today at the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship’s Facebook page and South Side Pitch’s YouTube page. Pitching videos from all of the semi-finalists are available at these pages, and Facebook and YouTube users can vote for their favorites by liking videos. The video with the most total likes will automatically qualify for the finals. You can also learn more about each semi-finalist by visiting: https://southsidepitch.com/2020-semi-finalists/.
“While 2020 has been a challenging time to run or launch a business, we know that there are many entrepreneurial South Siders who are creating opportunities out of challenges,” said Amy Hermalik, the associate director of the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago. “We do not want to miss the opportunity to shine a light on the incredible contributions they make every day and we want all of Chicago to be able to participate. We hope that by going online this year, even more people across Chicago and around the world can see the dynamism and strength of the South Side on display.”
South Side Pitch allows incredible entrepreneurs to share their success stories and the impacts their businesses have in a “Shark Tank” style contest, with the final contestants presenting their pitches during an online event on November 5. Applicants compete to win several great prizes, including a total of $20,000 in cash prizes, nearly double the amount awarded last year.
This year, South Side Pitch welcomed entrepreneurs past the idea stage—established businesses with a track record of serving customers —to apply. Finalists will have the opportunity to present online in November.
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 landed in stores and several online platforms. Dinobi Detergent owners Augustine and Sylvia Emuwa said, “The Southside pitch funds helped to solidify our direction as a startup. We went from a concept to a business that continues to grow and gain exposure. We are so happy to have been a part of this amazing community impact effort.”
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.
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 www.ij.org/clinic.