CHICAGO—Five South Side entrepreneurs took the stage last week with three crowned winners and all the contestants gaining valuable experience in promoting their unique business idea. For five years running, the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship (IJ Clinic) has hosted South Side Pitch. Liv Labs, an innovative solution to help women exercise with confidence, took first place among the five finalists and 130 total businesses who entered this year.
Liv Labs’ goal is to help women and new moms “laugh more and worry less” by helping eliminate incontinence issues during exercise. Pitch contestant Melody Roberts and her industrial designer co-founder, Carly Price, felt indignant that there are only limited options available for a problem that 23 million American women face. Roberts’ medical device, which is entering the Food and Drug Administration clearance process, would be a convenient and reusable alternative to products currently in the market.
In addition to Liv Labs, South Side Pitch awarded prizes to Kozy and The Bougie Melon. Kozy is a retention and savings platform for landlords and rentals. The Bougie Melon makes 100 percent fresh, fun sips and sweets for fruit-loving foodies.
Before the pitches, the finalists and 200 South Siders in the audience heard from keynote speaker Charisse Conanan Johnson, a partner at Next Street. Next Street provides strategic and capital expertise to small businesses. Conanan Johnson talked about her experience in running a small business and building the startup mindset. She encouraged the contestants by saying, “Entrepreneurship means having faith in what you haven’t built yet.”
“Once again, South Side Pitch reminds Chicagoans that the South Side is home to a host of innovative entrepreneurs who are making their neighborhood and the city at large a better place to live and work,” said Beth Kregor, director of the IJ Clinic. “We started South Side Pitch knowing that there was a rich entrepreneurial spirit here that needed to be showcased. It’s a privilege to give a boost to innovators who are creating new opportunities for South Siders to build better lives for themselves and for others. This competition has proven year after year that there is no end to the creative business ideas that spring from the South Side.”
The IJ Clinic, which created South Side Pitch in 2014, is based at the University of Chicago. The clinic provides free legal assistance, access to resources and advocacy for low-income Chicago entrepreneurs. This year’s contest was also sponsored by the Lenovo Foundation, the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and the University of Chicago Office of Civic Engagement.