Posted in News on June 06, 2019

$5,000 prize for winning business idea
6/6/2019 // Zeeland, Michigan –Lakeshore Advantage, in partnership with Start Garden, is bringing 5x5 Night, a pitch competition for early stage business ideas with a $5,000 prize, to Zeeland this month. Those with business ideas are invited to submit them as soon as possible. The community is invited to vote for their favorite ideas at www.5x5Night.com
The top five ideas via website public vote will compete for $5,000 at the 5x5 Night business idea pitch competition at the Gentex North Riley Campus, 9001 North Riley Street in Zeeland on Tuesday, June 25th at 5:00pm. Idea submission and public voting on these ideas is open now through June 17th. Each voter can select up to five business ideas they’d like to see presented at the 5x5 Night event.
“5x5 Night is a jumping off point for new ideas. The invitation is open for anyone who has a solution to a problem to post their idea for public vote, with the opportunity to pitch your idea inside of one of the leading innovative companies in our region,” said Jennifer Owens, president of Lakeshore Advantage. “Come to 5x5 Night to see why we are home to the Best Small City to Start a Business, four years running.”
To invite new ideas and the public to the event, “Back to 5x5 Night” graphics and posters will be appearing in the region, featuring Gentex vehicle technology with nods and references to futuristic film favorite Back to the Future.
Gentex is the premier sponsor of the event and prize. Gentex, a startup themselves 45 years ago and now the region’s largest employer, consistently supports the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. Gentex sponsored the SURGE Celebration in October 2018, is actively involved in the SURGE mentor network, and has committed to host this and another 5x5 Night pitch competition in 2020.  

“When it comes to innovation, the idea is often the easy part,” said Neil Boehm, Gentex chief technology officer. “The tough work comes later when bringing the idea to fruition. It can take sheer determination and lots of hard work. At Gentex, we want to encourage innovative thinking and risk taking. It’s central to our corporate culture and it’s critical for our community and our future economy. That’s why we open our doors for events like this.”
Among the nine business ideas currently up for vote is FounderCo, submitted by local entrepreneur, Matt Gira. The idea for FounderCo came about after Gira left Hope College as their Entrepreneur-in-Residence. FounderCo is a model for building cohesive entrepreneurial ecosystems and supporting founders of new businesses through education, community and mentorship. Gira is hoping to be one of the five contestants chosen to pitch in the 5x5 Night competition.  
“The $5,000 prize is usually the right amount of money for experimenting and deciding whether or not a new business idea is viable,” said Matt Gira. “For FounderCo, 5x5 Night can be a huge help in us being able to launch a new model this fall to support startups throughout West Michigan.”