South Side Pitch is a shark-tank style pitch competition that showcases incredible South Side’s businesses. In prior years, we focused on early-stage companies and business ideas. This year, we are switching it up and focusing on established businesses. We want to highlight how important South Side businesses are and the incredible companies that exist south of the skyline.

This year, on November 5th, our virtual pitch event will celebrate the South Side businesses that have contributed positively to the lives of their customers, employees, community members, or individual business owners. South Side Pitch will offer small business owners an opportunity to pitch in front of a virtual, city-wide audience and a panel of judges to share their success story and for the chance to win cash prizes. The winner(s) will be determined based on the judge evaluations and the audience votes.

We are also excited to announce that this year we will open up online polls so the public will get to pick their favorite businesses in the semi-final and final rounds. The winners of both rounds will be rewarded and given the “Community Favorite” award, which will come with a prize.

If you are a South Side small business owner, we would love to have you participate in the pitch. If you have a favorite South Side business, please let them know about the event. And, if you’re a Chicagoan, even if you’re not participating, we hope you tune in and listen to the stories of these incredible entrepreneurs.

South Side Pitch is hosted by the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship in partnership with the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the University of Chicago Office of Civic Engagement.

Event Details:

South Side Pitch 2020
Thursday, November 5, 6:00PM – 8:30PM
Virtual Platform

Last Year’s Judges: Andrea Zopp, Chief Executive Officer, World Business Chicago || Sherman Wright, Managing Partner, TEN35 || Allison Weil, Senior Associate Investor, Hyde Park Venture Partners || Amy Hermalik, Associate Director, IJ Clinic on Entrepreneurship

Last Year’s MC: Jason William Johnson, Director of Entrepreneurship, Chicago Urban League

Last Year’s Finalists:

Wash on Wheels
Full-service, mobile, waterless car wash.

Dinobi Detergent LLC
100% plant-based laundry detergent for both sensitive and non-sensitive skin.

Software management and navigation tool for truckers looking for safe, reliable parking rest areas.

Chicago Birthworks Collective
Group of black birthworkers (doula) who provide comprehensive non-medical reproductive care from preconception to postpartum focused on people of color throughout Chicago.

Coffee Pops
On-the-go coffee made up of concentrated coffee formed in a dough ball with honey.

Strength Together
Mental health app for high school students that utilizes machine learning and AI.


Members of the media: if you are interested in hearing more about South Side Pitch, please contact Erik Castelan at

How do I apply to be a contestant?
To apply go to Deadline to apply is Monday, August 24.

Questions? Email or call 773-834-3129