SCORE of Southeast Michigan clients Erin and Drew Pineda have won the 2019 Comerica Hatch Detroit contest. As part of their honor, the entrepreneurial couple was awarded a $100,000 grant from Comerica Bank, which they will use to open their brick-and-mortar business, the 27th Letter Bookstore in Detroit.
The Pinedas have been working with Certified Volunteer Mentor Roger Nelson since February, initially looking for assistance with general startup strategy and eventually with preparing a business plan. They met with Roger several times to finalize their plan and submit it to another contest for startups, Motor City Match, which unfortunately they did not win. But they kept at it and submitted their plan to Hatch Detroit, where they had more than 50 startups competing with them. They first made the Top Ten semi-finalists and ultimately were in the Top Five finals, making their presentation and eventually earning the $100,000 award.
"We are so thankful to be recipients of this year's $100,000 Comerica Hatch Detroit grant," says Erin Pineda. "Our SCORE mentor, Roger Nelson, has been an indispensable resource as we became business owners. And, as a fellow veteran, Roger understands the power of mentorship relationships. He continues to lend us his experienced perspective and is always there when we have questions. We're incredibly thankful for all the support SCORE provides businesses through its volunteer network."
Clearing Hurdles, One at a Time
During the business plan market research process, the Pinendas had decided on the Jefferson-Chalmers area to locate their bookstore. There was an old building there in which they were greatly interested. Nelson personally visited the location with the Pinedas and met with one of the building owners. The owner was very willing to work with them; unfortunately, his partners decided the investment required to lease the building was too extensive and decided to sell it.
Despite the setback, the Pinedas and Nelson continued to have several text and voice communications with regard to obtaining a building for their bookstore. The entrepreneurs were a little discouraged. "But we weren't about to give up," says Nelson.
Nelson contacted fellow Certified Volunteer Mentor David Broner, who provided the team with a couple of contacts to reach out to in helping with their location search. Erin and Drew are still looking in that area, and this award will surely give them more ammunition with which to bargain for other buildings in the area.