By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — Victory was sweet for Tapped originator Jeremy Solin as his business was selected for the $2,000 prize during the Central Wisconsin HATCH event held July 19 at the former Hudson’s building, 12 N. Central Ave. in Marshfield.
The proceeding was hosted by the Marshfield Young Professionals in partnership with NEWaukee and the BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation. During the competition, five presenters each had five minutes to pitch their business ideas to a panel of six judges and the audience.
Ideas presented at the event included HiveCast, a crowd-sourced live video platform, presented by Paul Lemley; Tapped, infused maple syrups, presented by Solin; HydraCore Vest, a weighted vest for fitness and orthopedic rehabilitation, presented by Chad Henneberry; Art Studio on the Go, a mobile unit offering a place to create in any location, presented by Carolyn Corcoran; and Cheiks, customized women’s underwear, presented by Elizabeth Olson.
The panel of six judges — consisting of Brenda Dillenburg, Mid-State Technical College Marshfield Campus dean; Mark Nelson, Microscopy Innovations LLC president; Michael Agarwal, PreventionGenetics chief information officer; retired business owner David Meissner; Karen Olson, Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce & Industry business development director and Central Wisconsin SCORE administrator; and Todd Sobotka, BrightStar managing director — asked presenters a series of questions before the audience and each judge gave their recommendations on the favored business concept.
Solin is a fourth-generation maple syrup producer out of Antigo.
“The core of our business is making really amazing maple syrup from a sustainably managed forest in northern Wisconsin. My family is up in the Antigo area,” stated Solin. “Our family uses pretty traditional practices.
“It turns out that selling commodity products is a pretty tough way to make a living to say the least. … One of the things that I noticed is that there are really two types of food industries in the country: … large, industrial commodity food production industry, and then there is what you could call the small, local, sustainable, craft food market.
“If you look at small food businesses that get started and succeed, you see that generally they find a niche in that local, sustainable, craft food market that makes that work.”
Solin’s infused maple syrups included a mix of flavors such as cardamom, cinnamon, espresso, ginger, and red pepper.
In addition to the judges’ votes, the audience selected a fan favorite, which went to Olson.
The winner of each of the four Central Wisconsin HATCH events will advance to the finale on Nov. 9 for a $10,000 grand prize. The location for that event has not yet been decided.