Entrepreneur Success Stories

Two Rivers Entrepreneur Rysticken and The High Lift LLC win 2021 NEW Launch Alliance Pitch Event

MANITOWOC, WISCONSIN – Emilee Rysticken of Two Rivers was the first-place winner of the NEW Launch Alliance Pitch Event held on Dec. 2 at the Urban Hub in Green Bay. She was also the winner of Progress Lakeshore’s local pitch event LEVEL UP. Rysticken won for her business pitch about The High Lift LLC, a community gathering space and coffee shop she will be opening in her hometown of Two Rivers.

Rysticken had just four minutes to convince a panel of judges that her business idea was worthy of the first-place prize of $3,000. Judges then could ask clarifying questions for 2 minutes. Rysticken told them about the High Lift, which will be located in a former, renovated auto body shop. The gathering space and coffee shop will feature a wide range of hours, a drive-thru, ample seating, and outdoor green space for a place to relax, study and gather with friends.

Judges included Tara Carr from the Small Business Development Center at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, Dr. Preston Cherry of Concurrent Financial Planning, LLC, Shakkiah Curtis of Gener8tor, Kimyatta Ratliff of Universal Designs Salon and ColorBold Business Association, and Anna Steinfest, AFF Research, Green Bay Packer Mentor-Protégé Program.

Rysticken told the judges, “I looked around and saw a need for this kind of gathering space. My heart is really in Two Rivers. My goal is to build a better community.” Rysticken is a third-generation resident of Two Rivers, a town of roughly 12,000 people located in Manitowoc County along the shore of Lake Michigan.

She competed against 11 other entrepreneurs from across the 18 county New North region. All presenters earned their place at the event by winning first or second in local pitch contests hosted by The Greater Green Bay Chamber, Envision Greater Fond du Lac, Venture Center of Fox Valley Technical College, Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce, Accelerate Sheboygan County and Progress Lakeshore in Manitowoc County.

“I’m honored that my business was picked from among all the great presentations,” Rysticken said “The prize money from New North is huge. It probably will help me buy my expresso machine, which is one of the most expensive pieces of equipment I will need.”  More information on The High Lift can be found on Facebook and Instagram @thehighlift.

“What an energizing night it was,” says Barb LaMue, president and CEO of New North Inc., the event host. “There are so many phenomenal business ideas germinating in the New North region. It really was

exciting to hear all of the pitches. Emilee and her business concept, The High Lift, was especially impressive because of her intense desire to make her rural hometown a better place.” Rysticken and the other two winners will be invited to give an update to an even wider investor and business audience during the New North Summit, scheduled for June 9, 2022, at Lambeau Field.

The judges awarded a $2,000 second place prize to Divorcist, an on-line divorce gift registry and online support group, and a third place $1,000 prize to Brat Wave, an ingenious way to cook all surfaces of your bratwurst. Others making entrepreneurial pitches at the competition were Alto Gear, which makes rock and ice-climbing gear out of recycled billboards (presented by Benjamin Leibham), App Ease, which provides more timely conduit for medical information transfer (Nicole Tilot), Blank Sheet Fabrications, which provides custom tail gate handles for classic trucks (Mark Blank), Blossom Baby, which provides expandable baby clothes (Marissa Dyess), Doggy Dupa Dog Leash, which provides a non-tangling dual dog leash (Brian Jankowski), GoGuide, which provides a platform to connect guides and travelers (Carter Brown), Homeschool Art Box which provides art curriculum and supplies to homeschoolers (Sarah Harmeling), INKBOX which provides vending machines for printer ink, (Bill Zimmermann), and Sativa Building Systems which provides a patented hemp-based building wall panel (Zachary Popp).

“We are so thrilled one of our Manitowoc County entrepreneurs won this very competitive event,” said Jamie Zastrow, Executive Director of Progress Lakeshore. “Emilee participated in some of our pre-competition workshops and has taken advantage of the network of assistance available to people who want to start a business in Manitowoc County. That has obviously paid off for her, since she is now on her third business. We will be holding another pitch competition next year and it’s never too early to start thinking about developing your message.  I encourage anyone with a strong desire to start their own business to reach out to us at Progress Lakeshore to learn about the resources available to help them achieve their goal.” People interested in starting a business should call 920-482-0540 or email info@progresslakeshore.org to set up an appointment.