TRAVERSE CITY — It’s back even though it never went anywhere.

TCNewTech’s monthly Pitch Night event returns to the City Opera House on July 6. Held the first Tuesday of the month, Pitch Night has gone virtual since April 2020.

TCNewTech Executive Director Jennifer Szunko joined the organization to host the live event in March 2020, just before the Opera House stage went dark.

“I’m a little nervous because I haven’t put together an in-person one in a year and a half,” Szunko said. “I did one in-person and 15 virtual events.

“But I’ve got great support.”

Szunko said Joshua Paul of Ahkay Productions was instrumental in getting the virtual events livestreamed to TCNewTech’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Szunko said TCNewTech will continue to offer the virtual component, which helped attract a wider audience.

“We are very aware of what we learned from our virtual events,” Szunko said. “We will continue to broadcast on Facebook and YouTube.”

But TCNewTech is excited about the return to live events.

“We’re so happy to get back to in-person events,” TCNewTech Board President Kelly Ignace said in a release. “Anyone who has attended in the past knows that TCNewTech is Traverse City’s highest value networking event. We can’t wait to see the regulars, along with all of the new faces.”

The five presenters — each based in Michigan or with a strong state connection — are also ready to return to the City Opera House.

“They’re all coming, which is real exciting,” Szunko said. “They realize the value in what we offer and the ability to interact with our audience. They are all willing to make the drive to make their presentations.”

The July 6 event begins with networking and a cash bar at 5:30 p.m.

Pitches start at 6 p.m., with each having five minutes to make a presentation for their business and technology idea, followed by a five-minute question-and-answer session. Audience voting for the winner is scheduled for 7 p.m.

The winner receives $500, provided by Pitch Prize Sponsor DGN Advisory

Following another opportunity for networking for the audience and the presenters at the City Opera House, another optional interaction event will be held at The Workshop Brewing Company starting at 7:30 p.m.

Scheduled pitches with summaries from TCNewTech include:

  • Marshall Downs of Sitedropp, an “on-demand delivery service for the construction and home improvement industry” based in Benton Harbor.
  • Theresa Smith of Ola Filter Corporation, a “water filter that uses proven ultrafiltration technology to remove bacterial contamination from drinking water.” Ola Filter has roots in Ann Arbor as well as Bend, Oregon and San Marcos, Guatemala.
  • Northport’s Philip A. Hallstedt of Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, the company “is committed to providing customers with access to the latest cleantech products.”
  • Steven Lenon of Vert9 Company. The Midland-based company aims “to make drone capabilities accessible and financially possible for everyone by making drones modular and modifiable for the everyday consumer.”
  • Joe Gleason of genusConnect. The Detroit-based genusConnect is “a content delivery and engagement platform for the health care market, (which) will allow the audience the ability to experience their technology in real time during the event.”

Szunko said practice pitches prove that the first in-person event in more than a year will be competitive.

“They were all real good presenters,” she said.

People can apply for the August Pitch Night or future events at or by emailing Szunko at

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