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2018 Winners!

The competition is a funding opportunity for women who wish to start a new for-profit business or grow an existing business. Entry applications will be accepted from May 1-June 7 and contests will be held in three locations – Detroit, Grand Rapids and Jackson. Thirty total finalists will be selected, ten in each location, divided into two categories: growth and lifestyle. All finalists receive support services and technical assistance. Winners in each category at each location will be awarded cash prizes as follows:


1st Place                $10,000

2nd Place               $5,000

3rd Place               $2,500

Audience Choice     $1,000 (One winner per location)



(1) The Michigan based, for-profit business must be majority owned and/or managed by a woman age 18 or older who is not related to any current Michigan Women Forward employee.

(2) The woman must have played a significant role in conceiving the venture, hold a key management role in the business, be actively involved on a day to day basis and be the primary presenter at WomanUp & Pitch. MWF reserves the right to confirm that an applicant meets these requirements and can disqualify anyone at any time if it is believed that the eligibility guidelines were violated in any manner.

(3) Entries will be organized into two categories: lifestyle and growth. All businesses will be judged based on the same criteria.

  • Lifestyle Business – a Lifestyle business is run by its owners to suit their lifestyle and provide them with income. In general, the business owner is not interested in growing the company into a larger enterprise that would need many employees, a management team or more resources. Examples include an independent coffee shop or retail store, an artisan producing and selling their own goods and a professional consultancy. Lifestyle businesses tend to not attract outside investors.
  • Growth Business - A Growth business has the potential to scale significantly in size and revenue. An example is a technology-based startup with potential to be acquired or go public. Other examples include a retail or food establishment that can expand to multiple locations to become a chain or franchise, or a business that grows its number of employees to over 50. Growth businesses can be attractive to outside investors.

(4) Submissions must be the original work of the applicant. MWF reserves the right to reject or disqualify any entry for reasons including, but not limited to:

  • violates any local, state or national law and/or appears to be unethical in nature;
  • was previously awarded a cash prize in the competition;
  • does not follow application directions or submits an incomplete application;
  • does not meet the eligibility requirements; or
  • individual is discovered to not be a full, active and leading member of the business.



2019 Timeline (subject to change)

Application Period - May 1 - June 7

Review Period - mid-late June

Finalists Notified - mid July

Final Pitch Competition - early November


Dolphin Tank 2017 Winners!