Veteran entrepreneurs awarded in second MVE pitch competition

By Kayla Sosa

A second pitch competition concluded Monday night for the Michigan Veteran Entrepreneur-Lab at Grand Valley State University. Four participants took home winnings after a night of showcasing their business ideas, and then a timed pitch competition in front of a panel of judges. At the end of the night, $10,000 was distributed among the winners.

Nicholas Kaminski took the grand prize of $5,000 for his beekeeping business, Hickory Tree Farm Apiaries.

“I’m extremely grateful for everything that everyone has done to help me get to this point,” Kaminski said.

Kaminski is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, and said the MVE-lab was helpful in jumpstarting him and his business off the ground.

“It really was a big boost to help veterans get their concepts from an idea to a plan to actually implement, and then how to implement that plan,” he said

Kaminski will use the $5,000 to expand his apiary.

“To better serve the West Michigan area with higher quality bees for purchase,” he explained. “My goal for the next five years is to be to about 2,000 hives and completely supply the area with bees.”

In second place, with $3,000, was Shawnda Jackson with Life’s Beautiful Diamonds, a makeover and life coaching business.

In third place, with $1,000, was Ellie Dragstra with Born Blessings MSP, a doula and birth coaching service.

A community’s choice award for $1,000 was given to Des Nelson with Project Oasis, a project management app.

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