Grand Rapids Business Boot Camp & Pitch Fest

MGFF_Icons-07Are you a good food entrepreneur in Grand Rapids? Are you ready to take your business to the next level? Our Business Boot Camp is coming to your town this September 12-14, 2018. We start with a crash course on food business fundamentals and end with a pitch competition, where you’ll get the chance to win a $10,000 award!

The Boot Camp is FREE for six selected enterprises who are working to increase healthy food access. Applications are closed, but mark your calendars to attend the public pitch competition on September 14!


Hear from past attendees and learn the Boot Camp is all about.

Our Business Boot Camp brings together good food entrepreneurs, experienced facilitators, and food industry experts to give good food entrepreneurs the skills and resources you need to take your business to the next level . The three-day training blends skill building sessions, one-on-one coaching, and peer networking. Topics include:

  • Understanding Your Customer & Defining Your Value Proposition. Hone in on your target customers, their needs, and how your products or services will delight them.
  • Demystifying Breakeven, Cash Flow, Income Statement & Balance Sheet. Understand what these financial health tools mean and how to create and use them for your business.
  • Solving Your Business Challenges. Present the biggest challenges facing your business and get on-the-spot advice, tips, and strategies from a panel of food industry experts.
  • Marketing & Fundraising. Get marketing tips to raise awareness of your business. Plus learn about fundraising and how to prepare yourself for ‘the ask.’
  • Telling Your Story…in 3 minutes! Learn how to pitch your business to attract customers, partners, and investors. Practice with experts throughout the three days and make your case in the final pitch fest!

The Boot Camp culminates in a pitch competition in front of live audience! A panel of judges will select one business to win a $10,000 award from the Michigan Good Food Fund, which can be used for business consulting and capital expenditures.


  • Kick Off Dinner: Tuesday, September 11 – Join your trainers and fellow boot campers to mix and mingle, and hear what’s in store.
  • Training: Wednesday – Friday, September 12 – 14 – Dig in for three full days of intensive training (from 8:45am – 6:00pm each day)
  • Pitch Competition: Friday, September 14 – Training ends in the afternoon and the Pitch Competition begins with networking around 4:00pm.

How to Apply

We’re looking for six good food entrepreneurs who are increasing access to healthy food in Grand Rapids. See below for more details:

  • You’re located in and serving Grand Rapids.
  • Your business is up & running business. We’re looking for enterprises that are generating an expected annual revenue of $50K+.
  • You’re a good food business. This could include a farmers market vendor, a grocery store/food retail, healthy food product maker, healthy food service business (fast casual, restaurant, mobile truck, etc.), food processor/distributor, or similar
  • Your looking to do good while doing well. We’re on the lookout for businesses working to increase access to healthy food, offer quality jobs, demonstrate environmental stewardship, and use Michigan-grown products when possible.
  • You’re ready to commit. You and one colleague are able to commit to the Boot Camp schedule – from the kick off dinner on September 11 to the culminating pitch fest on Sept. 14. Training days start at 8:45am and go into the evenings with group dinners and working sessions.

The Boot Camp application is closed, but mark your calendars to join the public pitch fest on September 14!


Our Boot Camp instructors bring decades of experience helping entrepreneurs translate passion into impact.

Our Business Boot Camp is led by Jay Friedlander, the Sharpe-McNally Chair of Green and Socially Responsible Business at College of the Atlantic in Maine. Jay draws upon nearly two decades of experience with start-ups, natural and organic foods, and teaching sustainable entrepreneurship. He also brings hands on experience having served as the COO of O’Naturals, Inc., a natural and organic fast-food restaurant group.

Jordan Motzkin is the Co-Founder and CEO of Big Box Farms, a NYC-based startup. Jordan is also a partner at PitchWorks where he helps entrepreneurs prepare their companies for external financing.

More food industry experts to be announced – check back soon!

Questions? Contact