A2EF’s Social Impact Startup Pitch Competition was held in September 2020 to provide emerging businesses that demonstrate a commitment to addressing community needs with an opportunity to earn capital and support in building their ventures. Watch the short highlight reel video below.

33 applicants > 6 finalists > 1 winner… 


After outstanding pitches by each of the six finalists and extensive questions from the 5-person judging panel, Honesti (formerly known as Kare) was selected as the winner of the first-ever A2EF Social Impact Startup Pitch Competition in partnership with the University of Michigan Social Venture Fund.

Ann-Arbor based Honesti created a wellness platform that provides support to university students and young professionals health by providing immediate access to peer listeners, anonymous support groups and self-guided resources.  

Honesti is co-founded by: Bennett Hilkert, CEO; Stephanie Shoo, CPO; and Rodney Shibu, CTO

Honesti will receive $20,000 in non-dilutive funding from A2EF, 12 months of mentorship from the University of Michigan Social Venture Fund, 12 months of free co-working space for three people from A2 Startup Garage and 12 months of corporate legal services from Bodman PLC.

The competition was a celebration of the diverse talent pool of entrepreneurs in our region who are building businesses that will positively impact our community.

Here is some information about the entrepreneurs who applied to the competition.

About the top 6 finalists

  • All six companies are female-founded/co-founded and are located in Washtenaw County
  • 3 are founded/co-founded by a minority and 5 have minority representation in the core team
  • 4 have earned previous funding for their startup
  • 2 are student ventures out of the University of Michigan

About the 33 applicants

  • 23 are minority founded/co-founded
  • 21 are female founded/co-founded
  • 21 are located in Washtenaw County and 12 in Wayne County
  • Almost all have team members who attended local universities and the universities represented include: Eastern Michigan, Michigan State, Wayne State, Western, Oakland, Detroit Mercy and the University of Michigan

See the links below for more information about the other five finalists:

Want to see more? Check out the full recording here.