Here’s how Cleveland Chain Reaction helps small businesses find capital and secure other important benefits

Chain Winners
Kickin’ It With Kenny’s Kenny Crumpton (red shirt, kneeling) with the 2023 Cleveland Chain Reaction finalists and the three winners (holding checks). The application deadline for the 2024 pitch competition is June 21.

By Mimi Vanderhaven

Greater Cleveland Partnership’s Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) is now accepting applications for the seventh season of Cleveland Chain Reaction. This small business pitch competition connects entrepreneurs to capital and mentors and places new businesses in Cleveland neighborhoods to create jobs and build prosperity.

Since its inception in 2017 (the competition was put on hold in 2020 due to the pandemic), Cleveland Chain Reaction has received more than 515 applications, coached and prepared 126 small business semifinalists, connected winning businesses to more than $1.7 million in capital and provided over 580 hours of technical assistance.

“It has been such a thrill to work with these ambitious entrepreneurs over the last six seasons,” says COSE Executive Director Megan E. Kim. “They are not only invested in building their own success and their own businesses, but they are creating jobs and having a strong economic impact across our region.”

How It Works
Small business owners who wish to participate should visit, review the competition rules and submit an application. The application deadline is Friday, June 21.

The top 20 businesses selected as semifinalists will participate in a bootcamp hosted by JumpStart, where business experts will help the entrepreneurs prepare to pitch to a panel of judges at the showcase days happening Wednesday, August 21 and Thursday, August 22.

Businesses will be evaluated based on their business narrative or story, growth strategy, financials, use of funds and overall presentation. The three with the highest scores will win: first place will receive $40,000; second place will receive $20,000; and third place will receive $10,000. Judges, local investors and mentors may choose to contribute additional capital to the businesses.

The 2023 Winners
Last year, the first-place winner was Marshmallow of the Month Club, maker of artisan marshmallows, fresh-baked graham crackers and a signature blend of gourmet cocoa; the second-place winner was It’s a Wrap, LLC, servicer of vinyl vehicle wraps, window tinting and graphic and signage services for individuals and businesses; and the third-place winner was Crochet Kitty, creator of safe, handcrafted cat toys.

Additional Publicity
Throughout the season, semifinalists will also have the opportunity to showcase their business and promote their products and services on “Kickin’ it with Kenny” during FOX 8 News in the Morning. They’ll also receive media coverage through the competition’s print publication partner, Mimi magazine.

The Competition’s Roots
The inaugural season of Cleveland Chain Reaction took place in Slavic Village. Old Brooklyn hosted the 2018 edition and Collinwood was the 2019 host neighborhood. Since 2021, winners can select any city in Greater Cleveland to place their business 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.

Cleveland Chain Reaction is produced by COSE in collaboration with FOX 8 News in the Morning’s “Kickin’ it with Kenny.” This season of Cleveland Chain Reaction is sponsored by Medical Mutual, Minutemen Family of Companies and MAGNET. Mimi magazine is the competition’s print publication partner.

Visit for more information.

Categories: Shops & Boutiques