Chain Reaction: Applications open for sixth season of small business pitch competition

The Greater Cleveland Partnership's (GCP) and Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) announced this morning that applications are now open for the sixth season of Cleveland Chain Reaction—the small business pitch competition that connects entrepreneurs to capital and mentors and locates new businesses in Cleveland neighborhoods to create jobs and build prosperity.

Since its inception in 2017, Chain Reaction has received more than 476 applications, coached and prepared 108 small business semifinalists, connected winning businesses to more than $1.7 million in capital and provided over 530 hours of technical assistance.

Applications are open through Sunday, Oct. 15 to entrepreneurs interested in growing their businesses in the City of Cleveland. 

“COSE exists to help small businesses grow, so a program like Cleveland Chain Reaction is core to our mission,” said COSE executive director Megan E. Kim in a statement. “Providing entrepreneurs with the resources, support, and coaching they need to take their business to the next level is only sweetened by the fact that we are also helping to place these businesses in the City of Cleveland, spurring neighborhood growth and development—or as we like to say, a chain reaction.”

Tina Chamoun, owner of Terranean Herbs & Spices, the first-place winner of season five of Cleveland Chain ReactionTina Chamoun, owner of Terranean Herbs & Spices, the first-place winner of season five of Cleveland Chain ReactionThe top 20 businesses selected as semifinalists will participate in a boot camp hosted by JumpStart, where business experts will help the entrepreneurs prepare to pitch to a panel of judges during showcase days on Thursday, Dec. 7 and Friday, Dec. 8.

Judges will include representatives from Cleveland Chain Reaction program supporters MAGNET, Medical Mutual, the Minutemen family of companies, and other entrepreneurial ecosystem partners.

Businesses will be evaluated based on their business narrative, growth strategy, financials, use of funds, and overall presentation.

The three businesses with the highest scores will win $40,000 for first place, $20,000 for second place, and $10,000 for third place.

Judges, local investors, and mentors may also choose to contribute additional capital to the businesses.   

Throughout the season, semifinalists will also showcase their businesses and promote their products and services on “Kickin’ it with Kenny” during FOX 8 News in the Morning. FreshWater Cleveland is the competition’s digital publication partner.

The inaugural season of Chain Reaction took place in Slavic Village. Old Brooklyn hosted the 2018 edition and Collinwood was the 2019 host neighborhood. There was no competition in 2020.

Since 2021, winners can locate their businesses in any Cleveland neighborhood, based on their specific real estate needs, industry, and target market.

Cleveland Chain Reaction was inspired by Cleveland Hustles, the reality series produced by LeBron James that aired on CNBC in 2016. Cleveland Chain Reaction is an independent and unrelated effort that supports the continued opportunity that Cleveland Hustles initiated.

Visit the Cleveland Chain Reaction website for more information or to apply by Sunday, Oct. 15.