Launch Pitch Night-Spring 2024
Launch Pitch Night-Spring 2024
February 23, 2024

Are you a founder looking for funding to purchase an asset? Maybe you’re an aspiring entrepreneur looking to get dialed into the business scene in Lakeland. Launch Pitch Night is for you! Even if you’re a curious member of the community, Catapult’s biannual Launch Pitch Night is the perfect opportunity for you to support Lakeland’s entrepreneurs. Imagine Shark Tank, but instead of Mr. Wonderful shouting about Q4 projections and viability, it’s home-grown talent pitching to judges dedicated to helping the Lakeland business community.

Ten years ago, Catapult was founded to foster an environment for founders to build scalable businesses, and Launch Pitch Night is one of the many ways we help entrepreneurs do exactly that. 

It all started when our community’s financial institutions came together to help entrepreneurs who were struggling to get loans. They asked, “What if we could give these entrepreneurs a jumpstart?” From there, the Launch Micro-Grant Program was born. The idea was that if small businesses bought assets with microgrants, they could grow during a time when they may not be able to qualify for traditional loans at a bank.

Now every six months, Lakeland-based small business owners can apply to pitch for funding for their businesses. Five finalists are chosen, and they pitch to a panel of judges representing financial institutions and local business owners for an opportunity to be awarded up to $10,000.

Micro-Grant Recipients: Where Are They Now?

Over the years there has been an eclectic mix of awardees. As we look forward to Spring 24’s Launch Pitch Night, we wanted to highlight a few past awardees, the problems they were facing, and the growth they’ve experienced since being awarded the Launch Micro-Grant. 

Krazy Kombucha

Wendy and Aj of Krazy Kombucha started selling at the farmers market and to their wholesale clients out of the basement of Catapult 1.0. As they introduced Lakeland to Kombucha, they quickly developed a local following and started to grow, demand for their product justified a move into a brick-and-mortar taproom. They found a location, but there was a quality of life (and retail capacity) issue. Their fridge had no tap line, so they’d have to walk back to the fridge every time they wanted to pour a cup. With their micro-grant, they installed a 20-tap pour system and immediately increased retail sales. But that wasn’t the only benefit they experienced. 

We had a chance to catch up with Wendy and Aj, and they talked about how the launch pitch experience pushed them outside of their comfort zone. It forced them to speak about their company in public and answer questions in front of other business minds in the community. That may sound awful, especially if you’re afraid of public speaking, but they said they walked away with an even better understanding of their business. 


Demand for Omusubee’s Japanese-inspired onigiri was growing faster than they could keep up. To handle the new demand, they needed a new piece of equipment, a rice mixer. The Launch Pitch Micro-Grant was the perfect opportunity for them. After being awarded the grant, not only did they benefit from the experience of building a successful pitch, but they were able to keep up with production, and expand their service, including a store at the University of Central Florida. 

Sow Exotic

Sow Exotic is a nursery that specializes in fruiting and medicinal plants. When they applied for the Micro-Grant Program they were limited by the amount of soil they could mix, so what did they pitch for? A larger soil mixer. This helped provide the specialized nutrients their plants need to grow. Since then Sow Exotic has worked tirelessly to expand its operation to a second nursery property as a part of its commitment to bringing its customers extraordinarily rare and exotic edible plants while prioritizing sustainable practices.

The Heartland Snack Company

The Heartland Snack Company’s nut roaster had a problem, and when you’re a roasted nut company, that means that you have a problem. It was old, hot, and could only be used outside. In the summertime, they were lugging the metal contraption out to roast in the Florida heat, which was no joke! Through the Launch Micro-Grant Program, Heartland Snacks was able to purchase a new nut roaster which not only doubled their production instantly but also let them roast inside, so now the only heat comes from their sweet & spicy nuts.

A diverse range of businesses stand to gain from participating in the Launch Micro-rant Program. Whether you operate a bakery, restaurant, nursery, manufacturing facility, fitness studio, or any other type of venture, this program offers invaluable support. The application process and pitch preparation alone provide significant benefits, including a comprehensive financial assessment that can propel your business forward. Moreover, Catapult’s dedicated staff and community business experts offer constructive feedback during pitch preparation, ensuring you present your venture in the best possible light. Plus, the opportunity to showcase your company before an audience is an experience that benefits all entrepreneurs.

If you’re an entrepreneur, we’d encourage you to apply for the Launch Micro-Grant Program. Applications close February 26th. 

Join us at Catapult on Thursday, March 28th to watch this staple event in the Lakeland entrepreneurial community. 


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share This