Ann Arbor Entrepreneurs Fund launches pitch competition for entrepreneurs making an impact

Platform to provide funding, mentorship to seed stage startups

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Entrepreneurs looking to make a difference in their communities can win startup funding and mentorship by presenting a winning pitch at the upcoming A2EF Social Impact Startup Pitch Competition.

Six selected startup teams will share their business plan with a panel of expert judges at the pitch competition on Sept. 24.

The winning team will earn $20,000 in startup capital and a year of free coworking space, mentorship, access to the A2EF entrepreneurial network and corporate legal services.

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies in the Ann Arbor area have pivoted their business models in order to meet community needs, like contactless services or remote work platforms.

The pitch competition was launched by the Ann Arbor Entrepreneurs Fund in partnership with the University of Michigan Social Venture Fund and A2 Startup Garage to provide an opportunity for growth.

“I think 2020 is going to be remembered as a year when the value of community and collective impact shape the trajectory of where individuals and businesses dedicate their time,” said A2EF Director Trista Van Tine.

“We hope that offering an opportunity like our pitch competition, that provides not only capital, but a comprehensive package of the tools and support that an emerging team needs to build, will inspire the many other talented entrepreneurs in our area to start or continue their ventures with the confidence that establishing a company built on purpose does not sacrifice profit, but enables it.”

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For-profit startups based in or close to Washtenaw County who have designed themselves around both purpose and profit can submit applications if they:

  • Have a team of at least 2 people
  • Are still at the seed stage
  • Demonstrate how the organization addresses a measurable social or community need in Washtenaw or Wayne County
  • Demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Have a scalable business model with a large addressable market

Applications will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 31 through the A2EF website.

Each team will have 10 minutes to pitch their startup followed by five minutes of questioning from the judges.

Ann Arbor Entrepreneurs Fund is an initiative lead by the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation. It is made up of a network of entrepreneurs and investors in Washtenaw County that have committed to giving 1% of company profits, equity and investment back to their communities. The Fund was launched in 2019 through a $1 million gift from the Song Foundation. A2EF members include Duo Security, Censys, Refraction AI, InfoReady, Voxel51 and eLab Ventures.

In 2021, the Fund hopes to launch an early-stage Founders Retreat, according to Van Tine.

The A2EF Social Impact Competition will take place as part of Ann Arbor Spark’s A2Tech360 programming.

Learn more about the pitch competition here.

About the Author:

Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.