Terranean Herbs & Spices wins pitch competition; three second-place winners chosen
By Laura DeMarco
The 2022 Cleveland Chain Reaction winners are bringing new flavor to the Cleveland community.
The four top vote-getters in season five of Greater Cleveland Partnership’s (GCP) Council of Smaller Enterprises’ small business competition include a maker of Lebanese Za’atar seasonings, a manufacturer of Ghanaian/African spices, a creator of fermented hot sauces – and, for variety – a retail bag and apparel company designed by a student in his dorm room.
The winners were announced Friday morning live at Tower City on “Kickin’ it with Kenny” on FOX 8 News. The atmosphere was festive as confetti flew and competitors showed of their wares and shared samples at booths set up on the mall’s lower level. The first-place winner received $40,000, and three second-place winners will get $10,000 each.
- Terranean Herbs & Spices, maker of authentic Za’atar seasonings and snack products
- CHVD JUSTIN, a retail bag and apparel company designed by a student in his dorm room
- Fuego Fermentations, creator of high-quality premium sauces, specializing in fermented hot sauces and BBQ sauce
- Micah Specialty Foods, a manufacturer of authentic Ghanaian/African spices, sauces and beverages.
“We will use this investment to grow our business and increase production,” said Terranean founder Tina Chamoun, who was accompanied by her family. The Lebanese-American businesswoman founded the company in 2020 because she could not find the authentic Middle Eastern spices she needed for cooking in Cleveland. Today, her seasonings and snack foods are in more than 70 area stores, and will soon be in Meijer and Market Garden groceries. “Winning will help us expand our production,” she said. “We can’t keep up with demand. We want to bring traditional Middle Eastern spices to brick-and-mortar grocery stores across America.”
Micah Specialty Foods owner Nana Kwamena Takyi-Micah also plans to expand production with his winnings. “It’s a blessing,” he said. “This will help my company grow.”
“This will help us license more school logos for our packs,” said the owners of CHVD Justin, one of the second-place winners. Their five-way convertible and transparent wearpacks, created in their dorm rooms while still in college, impressed judges with their versatility.
Fuego Fermentations owner Ian Barrett said he would use his winnings to get his fermented sauces in more stores. “I just really love hot sauces!” he enthused. “We’re coming to a grocery store near you!”
“This has been an exciting season of Cleveland Chain Reaction featuring 20 entrepreneurs who are passionate, resilient and have a drive to succeed,” said Megan E. Kim, executive director of COSE and senior vice president, membership development and marketing at GCP. “It was difficult to narrow down the competition to the top three businesses, so we decided to invest in the top four and award grands to the remaining semifinalists.”
But the give-ways and good vibes didn’t stop there.
The semifinalists cheered when Kenny announced they would all receive $1,800 grants funded by Cleveland Chain Reaction partners Bedrock, JumpStart, KeyBank and MAGNET. They cheered again when Bedrock offered ALL businesses free tenancy at a kiosk at Tower City Center during an event day within the first six months of 2023.
“Bedrock’s partnership with COSE and the Cleveland Chain Reaction competition helps us to empower entrepreneurial talent to continue to grow Cleveland,” said Ivy Greaner, Chief Operating Officer at Bedrock. “We’re dedicated to supporting the downtown community through our efforts with our Cleveland community partner organizations that support companies through all stages of planning, helping to bring diverse business to the people of Cleveland.”
The fifth season of Chain Reaction launched in September with 76 applicants, eventually narrowed down to 20 finalists. The semi-finalists completed a business bootcamp hosted by JumpStart prior to pitching their business to a panel of judges on December 8 and 9 at the Greater Cleveland Partnership offices. The small business owners and start-up entrepreneurs pitched cookies and podcasts and beer and spices and much more. (Watch the pitch days recap video.)
Since its inception in 2017 (the competition was put on hold in 2020 due to the pandemic), Cleveland Chain Reaction has received more than 476 applications, coached and prepared 108 small business semifinalists and connected winning businesses to more than $1.7 million in capital.
The competition was inspired by Cleveland Hustles, the reality series produced by LeBron James that aired on CNBC in 2016. Cleveland Chain Reaction is an independent and unrelated effort started by one of the Cleveland Hustles investors that supports the continued opportunity that Cleveland Hustles initiated.
Cleveland Chain Reaction is produced by GCP and COSE in collaboration with FOX 8 News in the Morning’s “Kickin’ it with Kenny.” FreshWater Cleveland is the competition’s digital publication partner. Cleveland Chain Reaction is sponsored by MAGNET, Bedrock, KeyBank and JumpStart.
The competition will return in 2023. Follow greatercle.com for updates and details.
“At GCP and COSE we want to highlight interesting entrepreneurs and small businesses just getting started in our community. Chain Reaction is a way to do that,” said Greater Cleveland Partnership President and CEO Baiju Shah.
Greater Cleveland Partnership’s All In vision for a Great Region on a Great Lake has five key priorities: Dynamic Business, Abundant Talent, Inclusive Opportunity, Appealing Community and Business Confidence. All of our work ties back to these values. This story relates to Dynamic Business and Inclusive Opportunity.