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Grand Forks entrepreneurs pitch business plans to sharks

Most small businesses fail. That's the breaks. But occasionally someone comes up with a great idea and executes it successfully. The Grand Forks area Chamber gave 10 innovators Tuesday a chance to pitch their ideas to business leaders in downtown...

Rachel Gronowicz, owner of Countrywide Sanitation, discusses Tuesday a concept for a gun safety device with its creator, Tyler Larson, at the Shark Tank event. photo by Kevin Killough/Grand Forks Herald
Rachel Gronowicz, owner of Countrywide Sanitation, discusses Tuesday a concept for a gun safety device with its creator, Tyler Larson, at the Shark Tank event. photo by Kevin Killough/Grand Forks Herald

Most small businesses fail. That's the breaks.

But occasionally someone comes up with a great idea and executes it successfully.

The Grand Forks area Chamber gave 10 innovators Tuesday a chance to pitch their ideas to business leaders in downtown Grand Forks at The 701 Co-Working Space.

They called it the Shark Tank, and it was the third time the chamber has held the contest.

Not only did the entrepreneurs vie for prize money, they also received feedback on their ideas from people with entrepreneurial experience.

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The ideas were as diverse as the innovators.

First place went to Oliver Goudreau for his Great Planes Air concept, which would function as a corporate air service. Companies would pay a monthly subscription for access to regular flights around the region on small Pilatus aircraft.

The service, once operational, offers a reliable and efficient option for employees who travel frequently.

Goudreau said he will use the $500 he won to pay for legal fees in the course of pursuing his idea, which he said will serve a high demand.

"I've already got four businesses in Grand Forks that are interested in this," Goudreau said.

Two contenders shared a second-place prize of $250.

Aspen Moreland, 13, won second place for her cottage food business. Moreland serves pastries and other baked goods and hopes to open a small bakery someday.

She said she was donating her prize money to the Mayo Clinic, where she had surgery.

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William Klinke shared second place for his Safe Zone app, which manages on-site emergency protocol plans, incident reports and safety meeting appointments for industry.

Peter Chamberlain pitched his idea for a monitoring device that attaches to walkers that are often used by the elderly. The device monitors walking habits to provide data on walking habits of patients.

Blue Weber proposed a restaurant idea that would serve breakfast in the early morning hours and cocktails in the morning. It would combine a brick-and-mortar location with a food truck to feed people leaving the bars at night and people finishing their night shift in the morning.

The event was sponsored by the Center for Innovation, Alerus, Edgewood and Backspin Productions.

The "sharks" included Hal Gershman, owner of Happy Harry's Bottle Shops. Matt Winjum, co-owner of Rhombus Guys, and Rachel Gronowicz, owner of Countrywide Sanitation, were also among the judges of the event.

Related Topics: HAL GERSHMAN
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