DTE Energy took its Bright Ideas For Neighborhood program to Southwest Detroit! Contestants participated in a “Shark Tank”-style pitch at PAL Detroit to a panel of judges, included Trevor Lauer, president and COO of DTE Electric, and Lynette Dowler, president of the DTE Energy Foundation.

The judges evaluated each proposal in front of an audience of nearly 200 local peers and community members. In addition to cash prizes, winners received free enrollment in an eight-week course offered by CBA Formula, a leadership and consulting firm where they will learn business skills and be matched with financial contacts to further build their businesses. It also offered businesses an opportunity to promote their ideas within their community.

“It’s incredibly exciting to see these entrepreneurs passionately sharing their ideas that directly impact their community,” said Marifer Calleja-Barrett, program manager for Public Affairs. “Congratulations are in order for Olivia Croom of Dancing Zebras and to the rest of the participants for their hard work. It’s not easy to get in front of a room of your peers and pitch your business, so we are honored to play a role in our local communities  to promote growth and new ideas.”

The participants included:

  • 1st place ($3,000) – Olivia Croom of Dancing Zebras, an all-natural kids flavored water brand with zero sugar and zero artificial sweeteners.
  • 2nd place tie ($2,000) – Juan Carlos Dueweke-Perez of Featherstone Moments, a trilingual, immigrant-owned and operated marketing and PR agency that provides culturally-competent and socially-driven services.
  • 2nd place tie ($2,000) – Jesse Thompson of HaggleFree, a reverse auction platform that enables consumers to more easily find the best deal on their next vehicle.
  • Kia Ix Arriaga of Ameyalli Mexican Treats, LLC, a company that creates treats highlighting Aztec traditional food, helps research the food traditions and history of the indigenous people from Mexico.
  • David L. Colón of Quantum Vision Tech, which provides Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculum, packaged in a moving classroom van with the goal of empowering students to become collaborative innovators who ethically create with technology, versus being simply consuming it.
  • Debra Griffin of Leo’s Southern Style Cha-Cha Relish, a relish that has been taking Southeast Michigan by storm.

Bright Ideas For Neighborhood was customized to fit the interests and needs of the SW Detroit community through the input of two key community partners: the Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Southwest Detroit Business Association. The implementation of this program aligns with DTE’s values by encouraging investment in local businesses to help create safe and beautiful communities for families to live, work and play. DTE has previously hosted these events in Detroit’s historic North End neighborhood.