Diverse Metro Detroit businesses snagged some $1.2 million on Friday to further their ventures.

Whittled down from 500 applicants, 15 finalists in the second annual Quicken Loans Detroit Demo Day contest showed off their pitches for the funding.

The goal was “for Detroiters to come out and celebrate some of the city’s best and brightest entrepreneurs,” said James Chapman, director of entrepreneurship for the Quicken Loans Community Investment Fund. “These businesses are the life-blood of Detroit – their success will have a huge multiplier effect that will impact the community as a whole, creating more job opportunities for Detroiters.”

Before a crowd of about 1,500 at Detroit Music Hall, the contenders represented three categories: Start, for companies that have recently introduced a product or service; Grow, which represented businesses that are more established and working to expand locally; and Scale, covering those having achieved local success and pushing into other markets.

The winners of Quicken Loans grants, interest-free loans and convertible notes were then decided by nationally recognized entrepreneurs: Charles Adler, the co-founder of Kickstarter; Ron Bartell, a former Detroit Lion and founder of Kuzzos Chicken & Waffles and Anne Sempowski Ward, Michigan native and CEO of CURiO brands.

In the Start category, the winners were: Bloomscape, featuring potted plant delivery, $75,000; Lush Yummies, which serves pies with local ingredients and classic recipes, $100,000; and Plum Health, providing Direct primary care health care services, $50,000.

The Grow winners were: Cynt-Sational Popcorn, $150,000; Tait Design for toy and home accessories, $200,000; the TEN Nail Bar, $250,000.

For the scale category, Michigan Farm to Freezer received $300,000. The business also was awarded an additional $25,000 grant, along with Lush Yummies and Cynt Sational Popcorn, as a people’s choice winner decided by audience vote. 

In an interview at the start of the event, which coincided with Techstars Startup Week Detroit, Chapman interviewed Quicken Loans Inc. founder Dan Gilbert.

Gilbert, who has been a major player in Detroit’s revitalization, touted local businesses as vital. “Entrepreneurial businesses are the machine of jobs,” he said.

Friday’s event also highlighted a winner from the 2017 event: April Anderson, co-owner of Good Cakes and Bakes.

Since winning $200,000, the Motor City spot has moved forward on a second location, she told the audience. “Business has been going great.”

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