Winners have been chosen in three regional HATCH pitch competitions, highlighting the entrepreneurial activity that takes place all across Wisconsin—not just in major cities.

Three regional winners have each taken home a $5,000 prize:

  • Southeastern Wisconsin: Quisine, an app that displays recipes based on a user’s ingredients, by Celestine Ananda, Tom Shannon and Nicholas Bartel
  • Central Wisconsin: Amira Learning, the first intelligent reading assistant tool for young children that listens, assesses and coaches to help accelerate their reading skills, by Pete Jungwirth
  • Western Wisconsin: Earthbound Environmental, a landfill diversion program focusing on concepts that enable citizens to participate in zero-waste activities, by Jamie and Zacharious Pappas

More than 55 entrepreneurs presented their ideas at 10 preliminary competitions held in Racine and Kenosha county, Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls, Menomonie, Marshfield, Stevens Point, Wausau and Wisconsin Rapids.

The overall goal of the HATCH pitch competitions is to connect entrepreneurs with funding and help them hone and polish their pitches, while judges and audience members act as a sounding board.

HATCH pitch was co-created by NEWaukee and the BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation, with the help of a matching grant from WEDC.

NEWaukee was founded in 2009 by a group of new college grads and recent Milwaukee transplants looking to find a way to socialize and explore the community while also building connections outside the traditional business-networking model. HATCH pitch was an immediate hit, and NEWaukee cofounder and Chief Idea Officer Jeremy Fojut said that the competition’s popularity shows exactly why the contest was needed, why it has continued to grow and why there has been an increase in the depth and breadth of Wisconsin’s entrepreneurial community.

“We were thrilled to expand HATCH across the state this year with the help of the WEDC,” Fojut said. “In the past two years, the HATCH program has helped kick-start entrepreneur activity in rural and urban Wisconsin through collaboration, empowering people to take their ideas forward, connecting them to resources and letting our entrepreneurs build the future.”

Semi-finalists at each regional finale had already gotten their feet wet by presenting and winning $2,000 to advance. In the final round they competed for $5,000 and other business services.

HATCH pitch competitions are free to enter, with the only guideline being that the idea type must be high-growth and scalable. This has resulted in a variety of entrants and has given HATCH pitch a reputation for being a fun, innovative competition and networking arena, Fojut said.