Local entrepreneurs take top honors at Pitch Night’s Grand Event

Joanie Moore, Contributing Writer

Photo by Joanie Moore

Mancelona’s Audrey Hetzell and Marissa Griffore (front, center), co-owners of A&M Beauty, accept two checks totaling $10,500 during last Wednesday’s Pitch Night Grand Event at Boyne Mountain. Also pictured (back, from left) are Sunshine Recycling owners Carson Rubis and Melissa Zelenak, along with Dan and Melanie Bennett, of Breezeway Paddlesports. Combined, the three businesses won $28,000 in start-up funds, a big boost to Antrim County’s new entrepreneurs.


BOYNE FALLS – Three new Antrim County entrepreneurs won significant cash start-up funds after participating in Antrim Pitch Night on Nov. 8, and, most recently, the Grand Event held last Wednesday, Nov. 20, at Boyne Mountain.

During the business model competitions, participants had just four minutes to pitch their dreams and explain how they will execute their plan, to a panel of judges. The top three winners from Antrim Pitch Night earned a portion of $15,000 and advanced to the Grand Event to compete against three Cheboygan County candidates for a share of an additional $18,000.

A&M Beauty, Breezeway Paddlesports and Sunshine Recycling were the top three winners at Antrim Pitch Night and represented the county at the Grand Event.

At the conclusion of the evening, Mancelona’s A&M Beauty once again earned first-place honors for $10,000 and $500 for People’s Choice, bringing their total winnings to $21,000. Breezeway Paddlesports netted $5,500, while Sunshine Recycling was awarded $1,500. Combined, $28,000 in startup funds was invested into Antrim County as a result of Pitch Night.

“Being selected for People’s Choice for the second time has been very validating and shows us a continuous amount of support from our community,” said Audrey Hartzell, who, along with Marissa Griffore, owns A&M Beauty. “Winning first prize once again and doubling our start-up funds will cover our costs to get the beauty bus up and running. This has been a huge opportunity and it still seems so surreal.”

According to the business partners, “Our mission is to provide you with our skills, pampering, humor, and support through all your hair styling and makeup artistry needs,” which primarily include on-site visits to weddings and special events.

Pitch Night competitions were presented by Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA), a resource for communities and entrepreneurs to create and retain jobs in Antrim, Charlevoix and Cheboygan counties. Prize money was made available through contributions of several sponsors.

NLEA President Andy Hayes said the competitors received business counseling from professionals to help them prepare for competition. In addition, there were opportunities for networking and connecting with other business professionals and investors.

“The NLEA and its partners opened a huge door for us and our business,” Hartzell said. “Marissa and I are excited to finally make our dreams come to life.”

Originally, 19 entrepreneurs submitted applications for Antrim Pitch Night, which was narrowed down to 10 finalists.

“All had super ideas and we want them to succeed,” said Hayes.



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