Grubhub, the Hatchery launching pitch contest for aspiring West Side culinary entrepreneurs

Grubhub has partnered with the Hatchery Chicago to sponsor a pitch contest for entrepreneurs hoping to open a food service business on the West Side.

The winning pitch gets one year of free access to a private kitchen at the Hatchery, a nonprofit incubator that fosters food and beverage businesses.

“This is our way of getting back to our roots in Chicago. As a Chicago-based company, we’re focused on giving back to the community we started in and helping the city’s next generation of culinary entrepreneurs really get their start,” said Liz Bosone, Grubhub’s vice president of restaurant success.

The Hatchery and Grubhub will collaborate on developing educational materials for businesses about using third-party delivery services to grow their businesses and provide philanthropic support to local organizations.

Grubhub is kicking in $300,000 for the partnership, which covers the pitch contest prize, micro-grants for small-business owners and 25 scholarships for the Hatchery’s Sprouts Incubation, a six-month program that helps people accelerate their business idea.

“Not only are we offering financial support, but teams across Grubhub are working with the Hatchery Chicago to offer deeper, meaningful engagement that can help put their entrepreneurs on a path to sustained growth and success,” Bosone said.

Natalie Shmulik, the Hatchery’s chief strategy officer, said the partnership came from Grubhub looking to learn more about the challenges startup entrepreneurs in food service face.

“Since opening our doors on the West Side of Chicago in 2019, the Hatchery Chicago has helped hundreds of entrepreneurs get their starts in our kitchens and learn the necessary skills to launch and grow viable businesses,” Shmulik said.

The pitch contest is open to anyone in the Chicago area with a food service idea, but aspiring business owners from the West Side will be prioritized, Shmulik said. The winner gets one year of free, private kitchen space at the Hatchery to work on launching a business.

“The value of this kitchen and all of the services is around $50,000 for that entrepreneur, which is huge. A lot of the time, an entrepreneur is looking to take their business to the next level, but they need the funds to get there. This removes that barrier,” Shmulik said.

The winner will also get a stipend for purchasing equipment and receive regular support and feedback from the Hatchery and Grubhub.

“Our intention is not to have companies live at the Hatchery forever. We want them to grow, to create jobs. This is intended to be a launchpad,” Shmulik said. “It’s an opportunity to really rev up your business for a year, and then eventually you would graduate out of our space, and you’ll either open up your own restaurant, your own bakery, whatever it is you’re hoping to do.”

The specific criteria for the contest is still being worked out, but applications open in September, and the winning pitch will be selected by November.

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