Chain Reaction 2023 semi-finalists announced: Meet the unique local entrepreneurs who made the list

Greater Cleveland Partnership’s (GCP) Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) has revealed 18 businesses that will advance to the semifinals of Cleveland Chain Reaction, a neighborhood economic development project and pitch competition. The businesses will participate in a bootcamp hosted by JumpStart where business experts will help them prepare to pitch a panel of judges at showcase days taking place Thursday, December 7 and Friday, December 8. 

Read on to meet the semi-finalists, listed along with a description of what makes them unique – in their own words.  

“I want my supporters to have an experience. The moment a person comes through the door, I greet them with a smile. I am a firm believer in excellent customer service. I have been told by returning customers they love wine, but the way I make them feel welcome also keeps them coming back.”

“We excel in hospitality, we are minority-owned, we provide same day care, we pride ourselves on not making people wait, we have received commendations from elected officials, and we care for people from all walks of life.”

“Aril operates as a hybrid between fine art, design and craft within the practice of wood and metalworking to create objects of remembrance that are pleasing to see and touch. No other craftsperson or business, large or small, is working to bring art, design and craft to remembrance in this way.”

“We are the only’ beauty as a wellness’ provider that has specialty pressed juices that help to build healthy hair and skin from the inside out. We were able to expand our offerings to customers because we saw that even though they had access to amazing products they were still suffering from the same hair and skin problems. We introduce them to healthy drink options that taste good and are good for them.”

“Crochet Kitty stands out in its ability to hand make thousands of whimsical cat toys, packed with premium catnip with flower buds for longevity. Our designs, conceived by a fashion design graduate, prioritize safety and durability. We go above and beyond our competitors by infusing more catnip into our toys, making them irresistibly engaging for cats. Our ultimate goal is to contribute to the health and longevity of cats, enriching their lives and those of their owners with our safe, durable and stimulating designer cat toys.”

“I Care Healthcare is an alternative to nursing and assisted living facilities. My business is unique because of me,” says owner Ciera Sanders. “It’s not the money; it is the passion and the drive that keeps me going. I started my business because I was a special needs foster parent caring for medically fragile children. I know what it’s like for a parent or guardian who has barriers and cannot live an everyday life because they are the primary caretakers for a sick loved one.”

“It’s A Wrap, LLC, can wrap anything and everything, besides air and water. Our motto is: We’re Going to Wrap The World…”

“Great Lakes Watersports has the best location in the Flats. We are located directly across the Cuyahoga River from the Flats East Bank mixed use complex. We are also the only 100% digital (paperless) boat rental business in the state of Ohio. Great Lakes Watersports has the largest fleet of boats (5) and kayaks (36) available for two- and four-hour rentals. We have Jetskis, captained cruises and corporate urban kayaking events available as well.”

“LaJAshley stands out for providing 100% natural and vegan hair and skin care for women with families, promoting purity, safety and ethical choices. We offer inclusivity and quality in a comprehensive product range, setting us apart from competitors who may claim natural ingredients but contain harmful chemicals on their labels. Our commitment to education and empowerment, including workshops and DIY kits for kids, strengthens our unique mission.”

“Lokul App uniquely empowers local communities through a seamless digital platform that fosters genuine connections between residents, businesses and organizations. By seamlessly integrating event discovery, business promotion, volunteer opportunities and community dialogue, Lokul App enhances engagement and drives economic growth. Our commitment to building thriving, interconnected neighborhoods sets us apart.”

“The uniqueness of our business lives within our ethos to provide confections that are clean and all natural.  There are plenty of pretty-looking confections filled with dyes, fillers, artificial flavoring and chemicals on the market.  We focus on flavor, quality and the joy of pretty delicious confections.  Our marshmallows are free of pork gelatin, our graham crackers are freshly baked with no preservatives, and our cocoas are vegan and dairy free.”

“We specialize in signature cocktails. We show our clients how to save money on events by using craft cocktails instead of buying a thousand bottles of liquor. We also have Mixology kids: youth mocktails and ice cream sundae bars.”

“Play Maysie creates portable playhouses for quality play on the go and less mess at home. Our toys are sustainably made from tin and wood and create a new category within the toy space.”

“Capsoul is a luggage brand, designing and manufacturing work bags for ‘Bleisure’ travelers. Capsoul offers a range of versatile, modular and sleek travel bags that come equipped with an internal packing system so you can carry as much as you need in an organized way. Our unique set of functional features gives you the flexibility to go from work to play and back to work again without the hassle of carrying multiple bags.”

“The TULSA Learning Center is a revolutionary, child-centered, culturally responsive, educational learning center. TULSA will create a safe space for students and families to explore, engage, and be empowered as they prepare to make a lasting impact on the world. ‘Meanwhile in Africa’ is a supplemental culturally responsive Social Studies curriculum for students in K-5. Designed to give students a greater sense of self and affirm their identities, MIA’s interactive and engaging activities, coupled with its emphasis on entrepreneurship, make it an important tool with which to present a more well-rounded, representative and factual view of history for any student group, but especially for African American students.”

“We are a MBE, WBE, commercial and residential landscaping, snow removal and cleaning company.Our business is unique because we started this company in 2019 with $20  to our name and prayer. Once we did our first 30 days we never turned back. We used our first check to invest in supplies and equipment. This opportunity helped me get my MBE certification with the State of Ohio and The City of Cleveland. From there we continued to trust God and grew bigger and better.”

“YumVillage is a fast-casual Afro-Caribbean restaurant that serves delicious chef -prepared meals at affordable rates. We cater to diverse dietary needs, offering halal meats that meet religious preferences. Our menu features gluten-free selections for a wider range of diners. Our commitment extends to the plant-based community, with delectable options for vegan enthusiasts. YumVillage is a one of a kind authentic Afro-Caribbean fusion.”

“For the chocolate lover with great taste who wants to enjoy every bite, ZuZu’s Chocolates offers a wide variety of bite sized treats for you to eat alone or share with your loved ones. ZuZu’s is a nationally-recognized local chocolate shop that serves all your chocolate needs.”  

Judges consisting of representatives from Cleveland Chain Reaction program supporters Medical Mutual, Minutemen Family of Companies, MAGNET, and other entrepreneurial ecosystem partners, selected the semifinalists. These businesses are vying for prizes that include $40,000 for first place, $20,000 for second place and $10,000 for third place.  

New this year, Christmas Connection, a holiday market featuring over 500 exhibitors, will offer one semifinalist a vendor booth at this year’s event taking place Friday, November 17–Sunday, November 19. The chosen vendor offered the opportunity is Marshmallow of the Month Club.

 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. FreshWater Cleveland is the competition’s digital publication partner.




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