Crain’s Detroit Business
April 4, 2023
A bookstore, sneaker cleaner, and community kitchen are among the 10 semifinalists for the 2023 Comerica Hatch Detroit contest.
The winner earns $100,000 in startup funds from Comerica Bank, along with a package of accounting, legal, IT, and public relations assistance from Hatch Detroit and its partners. The winner also will open a brick-and-mortar location in Detroit, Hamtramck or Highland Park, according to a news release.
Public voting is open online and four finalists will be named April 13. The final round of public voting ends April 26, the day of the annual Hatch Off in which the finalists pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges and an audience.
In-person voting is also available this week 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday at the following Detroit locations: Black Coffee Cafe at 9405 John R St., Detroit Pepper Co. at 17180 E. Warren Ave. and Detroit Rosa at 19180 Grand River Ave.
The winner will be chosen from a combination of the public vote and judges’ determination.
TechTown Detroit is a sponsor of the program. Christianna Malone, TechTown chief program officer and assistant vice president for economic development at Wayne State University, said the contest is great for Detroit’s small business landscape.
“The Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest has become a proven launching pad for budding entrepreneurs, not just because of the startup funding from Comerica Bank and expert counsel from TechTown Detroit and its partners, but because the public has a voice in which businesses they’d like to see set up shop in their neighborhoods, and they are dedicated to supporting those businesses,” Malone said in a news release.
The contest has played a role in the launch of many noteworthy Detroit businesses, including La Feria restaurant in Midtown (2012), Sister Pie bakery in West Village (2014), Meta Physica Massage in Corktown (2016), Baobab Fare in New Center (2017) and 27th Letter Books in downtown Detroit (2019). Restaurant Little Liberia took home the grand prize last year.
With this year’s investment, Comerica Bank and the Comerica Charitable Foundation will have committed nearly $1 million to Hatch Detroit since the partnership began in 2012. This is the third Hatch contest with the $100,000 cash grand prize, up from $50,000 the first seven years of the competition.
Hatch Detroit supports existing and new retail initiatives in Detroit, Highland Park and Hamtramck. Hatch Detroit was founded in 2011 to give residents and aspiring entrepreneurs an opportunity to have a voice in neighborhood retail development and joined TechTown in 2022. Hatch Detroit provides funding, exposure, and mentoring in support of its alumni entrepreneurs. With support from Hatch Detroit, 50 alumni have opened businesses. They employ more than 500 employees and have invested over $13 million in economic development.
TechTown is a nonprofit business service organization that provides programs, education and resources for early- to growth-stage small businesses and tech entrepreneurs. Since 2007, TechTown has supported 5,371 companies, which created 2,277 jobs and raised more than $385 million in startup and growth capital.
The 2023 Hatch Semifinalists are:
- Bouncing Around The Motor City: a one-stop shop for balloons, decor, event planning and party rentals located at 13238 Fenkell Ave.
- Chi Fan Le: a Chinese food-making, pop-up experience and fast casual eatery that shares the ingredients, process and stories behind diverse and nutritious homestyle dishes.
- CLEAN Sneaker Care: a footwear and accessory restoration service located inside Oakland Mall that offers a curated assortment of goods, including sneaker storage display cases, cleaning accessories and an in-house Detroit-inspired apparel collection.
- Highland Park Community Kitchen: a space to support food entrepreneurs in every stage of their businesses, doubling as a gathering spot to evoke culinary curiosity and foster strength in the community.
- Ice Cream Detroit: Detroit’s only liquor-infused frozen dessert company. They infuse handcrafted ice cream and sorbet with liquor, beer or wine, and also offer virgin flavors. The company plans to open a storefront this summer at 3762 Second Ave. in Midtown Detroit.
- JP Makes & Bakes: pastry maker and baker Jonathan Peregrino shares his love for sweets and Filipino heritage.
- Konjo Me: a unique and vibrant Ethiopian food pop-up experience that shares appreciation for the rich and diverse global cuisine.
- Next Chapter Books: a general interest new and used bookstore at 16451 E. Warren Ave. working to reflect and create community, inspire learning and nurture the joy of reading among all ages.
- Sepia Coffee Project LLC: a minority-owned roastery located at 9417 John R St. sourcing specialty coffee from farmers throughout Africa, North and South America, and the Indian-Pacific regions.
- Shell Shock’d Tacos: a Latin-inspired Detroit-style street food that is an escape from the ordinary. Shell Shock’d is operating as a pop-up as it works to relocate from its previous space at 2535 Bagley St.