For the last two years, Mason County has the Momentum Business Plan Competition, which awards $50,000 to entrepreneurs during the startup phase of their businesses. The project aims to boost entrepreneurship and small businesses within the county. Prize money is provided by local sponsors and organizations.
The competition can galvanize budding businesses, like it did for Andy Thomas’s business, Starving Artist Brewing, which won the competition last year.
Before the competition, Thomas, who has an enthusiasm for Michigan beer and brewed at home, was a gallery owner in downtown Ludington for nearly ten years. But the prize money from the competition jump-started his business.
“I really believe it launched us two years into the future — overnight,” Thomas said. “And we’ve been going high-speed ever since.”
This year, Thomas is mentoring the candidates and the potential winner. He says having a mentor is as important as having the money to start a business.
“I personally believe that the mentors that come along with the package — with the board of judges and the business people that put this together — I believe that their input is worth as much if not more than the prize,” Thomas said.
Thomas joined Stateside to discuss how winning the Momentum Business Plan Competition transformed his life and business.
Andy Thomas is the founder of Starving Artist Brewery.