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Detroit Demo Day: Catching Up with Past Winners

Since 2017, Quicken Loans Detroit Demo Day has helped entrepreneurs take their business to the next level by providing over $1 million in grants, interest-free loans and equity-like investments.

On June 14, 15 entrepreneurs will have the same opportunity to make their wildest dreams come true. As we get ready for the 3rd Annual Quicken Loans Detroit Demo Day, let’s look back at a few, past winners and see how life has changed for them since the competition.

Lush Yummies Pie Co.

In 2018, Lush Yummies won a $100,000 grant in the “Start” category, which features companies who have recently introduced a product into the market. They also won another $25,000 for a “People’s Choice” grant.

After having kids and attending culinary school, founder Jennifer Lyle decided to make her family’s fourth-generation lemon “butta” pie recipe known to the world.  Her own special spin on the recipe – and an emphasis on local, farm-fresh ingredients – helped her beat out nearly 500 other applicants to qualify as a finalist for Demo Day.

“Prior to Demo Day, I was selling my pies at all of the Westborn Market stores, and at one Kroger store, as well as Eastern Market on Saturdays,” said Jennifer. “Following Demo Day, I was able to grow into more Kroger stores. We’re in about 14 stores now and going into 118 in total, which I’m very excited about. Then we’re also going into about 100 Walmart stores. So, the business has had phenomenal growth since Demo Day.”

With the Lush Yummies brand continuing to grow, Jennifer was able to use the grant money to purchase new cooking equipment needed to increase efficiency and the company’s first refrigerated delivery vehicle. Now Lush Yummies can handle their own wholesale distribution.

Lush Yummies currently offers dessert catering for weddings and other events. They’re also hiring as the company continues to grow.

Michigan Farm to Freezer

Owned by Brandon Seng and Mark Coe, Michigan Farm to Freezer is a frozen food processing company that harvests and freezes fruits and vegetables from Michigan farms for people who want healthy, flavorful food that is locally grown and minimally processed.

In 2018, Michigan Farm to Freezer brought their business plan to Detroit Demo Day and walked away with $325,000 after winning a “People’s Choice” grant and the “Scale” category, a category for businesses that have achieved local success and are ready to expand.

This win has really helped Michigan Farm to Freezer grow their brand’s recognition and it was proven by their 70% company growth in the past year.

“Since winning Demo Day in 2018, we’ve expanded our operation to include now 300 retail locations, 150 schools, some hospitals now, and the state’s largest university, and that’s only been made possible through the funds that we were able to leverage,” said Brandon Seng. “In doing that, we were able to buy more inventory, put more product in our freezer, and at the end of the day, serve more families across the state and even a few stores online in Ohio.”

Contributing to this expansion is the new equipment and increased palette racking storage space funded by the Detroit Demo Day grants.

All of these recent changes have led to Michigan Farm to Freezer’s agricultural purchases approaching 2 million pounds a year. This progress has opened up more opportunities for growers that didn’t have a market for their product previously.

If you are interested in getting your hands on some of their frozen-at-peak-freshness products, you can find a Michigan grocery store that carries their products, here.

Tait Design Co.

Matthew Tait and Audrey Elkus founded Tait Design Co. in 2013 to specialize in creating products that foster genuine human connections and to encourage lifelong learning.

Tait Design Co.’s premium products and designs landed them as a finalist in the 2018 Detroit Demo Day competition. Their commitment to Detroit and their mission propelled the independent design studio to winning a $200,000 grant in the “Grow” category for creating useful and interactive products for home, office and life.

“Our biggest success since winning Demo Day has definitely been the amount of money that we’ve been able to put into the infrastructure of the business to make our entire business more efficient,” said Matthew Tait. “That’s been by far the most beneficial thing that has helped us grow. From that, we’ve been able to hire employees and really streamline our wholesale business. We’re really excited, too, coming up in the next year we’re looking into a European launch of all of our products, and that wouldn’t have happened without the money that we were able to get from the Demo Day event.”

Matthew and Audrey have been working hard for 7 years to get Tait Design Co. to this point of success. Through it all, they have continued their mission of creating beautiful products that bring people together through a sense of play, impacting the local economy through regional manufacturing and empowering the next generation of designers by showcasing Detroit designs around the world.

If you are looking for new items to add some pizzazz to your home or office, Tait Design Co. should be your first stop.

Get your tickets today at DetroitDemoDay.com to see this year’s finalists compete for their share of over $1 million in funding!

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