GR nonprofit to give $100K in ‘100 Ideas’ campaign


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Do you have a great business idea, but need money to get it off the ground?

Start Garden’s 100 Ideas for 100 Days competition may be the answer. The nonprofit is offering 100 $1,000 mini-grants as part of an effort to encourage entrepreneurship in neighborhood businesses.

Entrepreneurs can pitch an idea in-person at a Start Garden pitch night or online with a 100 second time limit. One hundred pitches will be selected in April to receive the grants.

“One hundred seconds is not a long time. But it’s remarkable how excited people can get to actually out loud tell people what their idea is,” 100 Ideas Program Manager, Laurie Supinski said.

After the first 100 pitches are selected, the group will narrow the pool down and give them a further grant of $20,000 in July.

“We need to be able to hear what they did with the $1,000 and then we will choose from those 100, we’ll narrow it down to somewhere between 10 and 20 people who will then get a further grant of $20,000,” Supinski said.

The 100 Ideas for 100 Days campaign is receiving positive feedback from business owners who already utilize Start Garden as a resource for economic growth.

“Start Garden in my opinion has done this like really incredible job of sort of widening the start-up ecosphere in Grand Rapids,” Middle West Founder, Ted Velie said.

Velie spends his days in the cafe area in Start Garden’s headquarters, which has become a hub for entrepreneurs to rent out space and run their businesses in a collaborative environment.

“If we can all be in the room and sort of be helping each other out, I mean say if there’s 50 businesses starting out here those are jobs that, I may work for that company you know 10 years from now even though right now we’re both starting out,” Velie said.

Entrepreneurs who have previously benefited from Start Garden are encouraging others to take advantage of the opportunity.

It’s been over three years since sales for Russell Fyfe and Scott Brandonisio’s prototype to capture the raw emotion displayed during a marriage proposal took off. Their product is an engagement ring box with a hidden camera that can be turned on and off with a switch on the box.

“Start Garden was instrumental to get where we are today,” Brandonisio said.

They said they owe a lot of their success to Start Garden, winning $5,000 to start Ring Cam.

Fyfe said people looking to make a pitch should consider the consumer’s demand, how it can be built and if a creator can afford to make it.

Start Garden has received more than 100 pitches thus far in 2018. The deadline for pitches is April 10.

A link to the schedule of future pitch nights can be found on their website. The next event is scheduled for 4 to 7 p.m. at Other Way Ministries in Grand Rapids.