Quiana “Que” Broden, owner of The Kitchen by Cooking with Que
Rocket Mortgage has announced this year’s finalists for its fourth annual Detroit Demo Day. With over $1 million dollars of funding up for grabs and beginning with 100 semi-finalists, the pool was narrowed to just 17 finalists, including several Black-owned businesses across the city.
Detroit Demo Day 2020 was redesigned with new categories: Start, Sustain and Build. These categories look to award business development amid the COVID-19 pandemic and help established businesses fighting to continue to serve the community.
Businesses under the Start category are those which have been able to launch in the pandemic or have had to revamp their business plans to accommodate the current health climate. Three winners in this category will be awarded up to $75,000 in grant money for their business needs.
The Sustain category is designated for businesses that need additional help in recovering from the fallout of COVID-19. With history in the community, five winners from these established businesses will win up to $50,000 in grant funding.
Among these businesses, The Kitchen by Cooking with Que, owned and operated by Quiana “Que” Broden, provides a unique dining experience complete with chef tastings, food demonstrations and cooking classes.
“Are you kidding me? This is Psycho! A Blessing literally! The fact that people all over the world will learn and understand what we are doing in Detroit…. teaching people how to Eat to Live. We need food like we need air to breathe! So, all the food that we eat matters. Now I can pitch to get more healthy food all over. This is a chance of a lifetime to me. I’m just excited to get the opportunity to be among some of the greats in the City of Detroit!” Broden said.
Also competing in the Sustain category is Narrow Way Café and Shop. As finalists in last year’s Detroit Demo Day, brothers Davis and Jonathan Merritt are thankful to have another chance to grow their business and neighborhood.
“It’s amazing for us as brothers to have another opportunity to make a difference in our community. We were a finalist last year and just the experience taught us a lot. We are extremely grateful to have another shot,” Jonathan Merritt says.
In the Build category are businesses looking to grow their company with a business model or product in spite of the pandemic. Three winners in this category will be awarded up to $200,000 in interest-free loans or equity-like investments.
Jessica Hayes-Stallings, founder of Skinphorea Facial Bar in Royal Oak, hopes to bring her business closer to the City of Detroit if chosen as a winner of Detroit’s Demo Day.
“Winning would allow us the opportunity to finish our second location in Corktown, the capital for inventory to keep up with the high demand and the ability to welcome 22 new employees to our team. To be busy and scaling a small business during a time like this, reassures my team and I that we are on the right track!” Hayes-Stallings stated.
Dana White, the owner of Paralee Boyd, a hair studio dedicated to women with thick and curly hair, looks to continue her dream of addressing common haircare issues for women.
“It would mean providing me with an opportunity to adapt to the changing climate. Although the vision for Paralee Boyd is the same, it is delayed. I have to take into consideration this new climate. Winning would provide me with the tools needed to prepare and prosper in my amended vision,” White says.
The Quicken Loans Community Fund serves as the philanthropic arm of Rocket Mortgage and responsible for choosing this year’s finalists. Also offering mentorship, networking and support for all winners of Demo Day, the Quicken Loans Community Fund works to ensure small businesses can thrive in the city.
“This year’s Rocket Mortgage Detroit Demo Day finalists include a diverse set of leaders who have built businesses that are an integral part of the fabric of our community and innovated through the current crisis to offer unique products and services,” said Laura Grannemann, vice president of the Quicken Loans Community Fund.
Each of the 17 finalists recorded a pitch video to be considered for Detroit Demo Day’s winnings. The pitches will appear in three episodes, one per category, and will be hosted by James Chapman, CEO of Plain Sight and co-founder of Detroit Demo Day.
“This year’s Rocket Mortgage Detroit Demo Day finalists embody the type of grit and resilience that you can only find in Detroit,” Chapman says. “We have to continue to band together and lift up small and early-stage businesses across Detroit because they are the cornerstones of the community.”
Each episode will feature the recorded 90-second pitches of the finalists and be judged by a panel of entrepreneurs who include Candice Matthews Brackeen, founder, and CEO of Hillman and general partner at Lightship Capital, board member of the University of Michigan Social Venture Fund Jamie Shea, and founder and CEO of PlayVS Delane Parnell.
The community will also have a stake in winners by voting for three People’s Choice recipients. Each category will have a People’s Choice winner and will be awarded a $25,000 grant.
Voting for People’s Choice will open on October 20 during the launch of the episodes on DetroitDemoDay.com and will run through October 25.