Entrepreneurs make their pitches at Innovation Hub's 5x5 Night

Two small business owners present their idea on stage during 5 by 5 Night
Steven Davis, left, and Josue Guillen discuss their business model for their start-up company, Stinkin' Clean Bins.
Image credit - Amanda Pitts

With $5,000 on the line, five entrepreneurs made their best sales pitches to judges during the Muskegon Innovation Hub’s 5x5 Night.

Modeled on television shows like “Shark Tank” and “Dragons’ Den,” the event gives each entrepreneur five minutes to present their idea to an audience and a panel of judges, making the case for funding in their business model.

“They have to not just pitch in front of an audience and explain their idea, but it forces them to think about their idea,” said the Hub’s director Kevin Ricco. “They’ve got to put it in a small, five-minute package, so they really have to pare it down to what that idea is.”

In the end, it was Josue Guillen and Steven Davis taking home the $5,000 prize to seed their business, Stinkin’ Clean Bins. Their pitch centered on a monthly service which cleans a homeowner’s garbage and recycling bins using 200-degree, pressurized water. 

“It’s an eco-friendly way to clean your city trash bin,” said Guillen. “The process disinfects your bin inside and out, killing 99.9 percent of bacteria on your bin.”

A business owner presents his idea on stage during 5 by 5 Night.
Rhys Gogonis discuss his video game, Infection Defense, during 5x5 Night at the Muskegon Innovation Hub.
Image credit - Amanda Pitts
The panel of judges listens to an entrepreneur during 5 by 5 Night.
The panel of judges listens to an entrepreneur's pitch during 5x5 Night. The judges awarded the $5,000 prize to Stinkin' Clean Bins.
Image credit - Amanda Pitts
An entrepreneur discusses his business model during 5 by 5 Night.
Jeff Mays talks about his business model for a stackable vertical farming pod system during 5x5 Night.
Image credit - Amanda Pitts

Guillen and Davis said the West Michigan region is an untapped market for the service, which appealed to the judges. 

Other participants in the event included:

  • CryoCellar CryoCube: A packaging system which uses artificial intelligence to inject dry ice into a container and keep food items frozen longer. 
  • Hydro Ag Fam Pod Business Park: A vertical, hydroponic farming pod system which is stackable to limit its footprint and maximize output. 
  • Infection Defense: A video game that helps students understand how the body’s immune system works. 
  • Jumping Jack Ski Seat: A portable, attachable seat to a ski which allows mobility-limited skiers to still enjoy the slopes.

The event was back at the Hub for the first time after a hiatus of two years due to the pandemic. 

“5x5 Night really speaks to the heart of what we’re trying to do, not just for Grand Valley but the lakeshore specifically,” said Ricco. “It’s really nice to have it back.”

The Innovation Hub helps guide entrepreneurs and start-up companies through their early stages, providing co-working space to interact with other small business owners as well as guidance, mentorship and access to state funding opportunities.


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