Entrepreneurs earn $1.2M in Quicken Loans Detroit Demo Day

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News
Ellis islamd Tea won first place in the Quicken Loans Detroit Demo Day "Scale" category.

Motor City-based businesses won a share of $1.2 million in funding from Quicken Loans on Friday.

The entrepreneurs participated in the 3rd Annual Quicken Loans Detroit Demo Day, a competition that brought them to the Fillmore Theater downtown to pitch their enterprises to thousands of potential customers.

During the event, 15 finalists each had 90 seconds to present their companies’ successes and growth strategies to a judges’ panel that included John Henry, a partner at Harlem Capital who hosts Hustle on Viceland; Suzanne Shank, CEO of Siebert Cisneros Shank & Co.; Jason White, chief marketing officer at Cura Cannabis Solutions; and Tony Ambroza, chief brand officer at Carhartt.

They competed in 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 contestants also vied for a people’s choice award determined by the audience.

T.I. thanks Detroiters for being one of the only cities outside he south to accept him as an artist when he first took off. He said “you’ve been with me since the beginning” as he performed old hits including “Bring Em Out” and “Whatever You Like” at the Fillmore during Detroit Demo Day Friday.

The winners of grants, interest-free loans or equity investments were: 

Start category

1st Place ($100,000): Healthy Roots, a doll and storybook company

2nd Place ($75,000): EnBiologics/Honey Cure, which provides veterinary burn and wound care

3rd Place ($50,000): Gus & Grey, which sells handcrafted delights and jams

People’s Choice Grant ($25,000): Healthy Roots

Grow Category

1st Place ($250,000): Louisiana Creole Gumbo, a Cajun restaurant

2nd Place ($200,000): Detroit Dough

3rd Place ($150,000): Eastern Market Brewing Co.

People’s Choice Grant ($25,000): Detroit Dough

Scale Category

1st Place ($300,000): Ellis Island Tea

People’s Choice Grant ($25,000): Functional Fluidics

The competition “provides a unique opportunity to support and celebrate the small businesses that serve as the cornerstones of Detroit, creating jobs and wealth for the entire community,” James Chapman, entrepreneur in residence for the Quicken Loans Community Fund, said in a statement. “Detroit would not be the city it is without entrepreneurs like the ones you will see on stage at Quicken Loans Detroit Demo Day. This city was founded by entrepreneurs, and its next chapter will be written by them.”

The event, which featured a performance from rapper TI, also kicked off Techstars Startup Week Detroit powered by Quicken Loans.