Hatch Detroit down to four finalists

Posted on September 20, 2012

Four finalists have been picked for the 2012 Comerica Hatch Detroit contest, which awards $50,000 to one entrepreneur who has an idea for a Detroit-based retail business.

The four are:

Detroit River Sports: A plan for a kayak rental business offering tours of Belle Isle, downtown and other parts of the city’s riverfront. The would-be owners are in the beginning stages of launching the business.

Detroit Vegan Soul Café : Vegan food with a soul-food twist, currently operating as a catering and food delivery business. Looking to open a store in Midtown.

La Feria: A concept for a wine bar featuring tapas; planning a spring 2013 opening in Midtown.

Rock City Pies LLC: Currently operating on Saturdays and Sundays at the Rustbelt Market in Ferndale but looking to open a permanent location in Midtown.

Three of the finalists are Detroit residents, and one is a Berkeley resident.

Full company biographies are available at hatchdetroit.com.

The finalists were picked through public voting in which more than 30,000 people participated.

Two last decision-making processes — a “hatch-off” and a final round of voting by judges and the public — will decide the winner.

During the hatch-off, which takes place at the Majestic Theatre, each of the finalists will be questioned by judges, many of whom have run successful businesses. The hatch-off gives each competitor a last opportunity to explain his idea to the judges and the public before voting begins.

Public voting opens after the hatch-off and continues until noon the next day.

Ryan Kelly, Crain’s Detroit

The winner will be determined by a combination of public voting and the decision of the judges and will be announced at 5 p.m. Sept. 27.

Last year’s winner was Hugh, a home-furnishings shop with a classic bachelor-pad style. Owner Joe Posch plans to open a permanent location in Midtown this fall after gaining experience operating two previous pop-up stores.

The contest received more than 250 submissions this year, a 25 percent increase from last year.

The contest tries to choose finalists who will have an impact on already dense retail areas, such as Midtown and downtown.

The nonprofit Hatch Detroit was founded by Ted Balowski, an account executive at CareTech Solutions Inc., and Nick Gorga, a partner at Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP.