US (NM): Peninsula Produce to create first ever commercial hydroponic facility in U.P.

Business partners and NMU alumni Ricky Rietjens and Tyler Watson decided on February 24 to submit their Peninsula Produce idea to the Mini Pitch competition, but they have been diligently working on their business plan since the fall of 2022.

“We’re trying to make this a real thing, and we shared this idea with someone other than just the two of us for the first time the day before the pitch,” Watson said. “The warm recognition we got that day, and then winning the pitch competition and giving us an invite to go downstate for this to be our… personal kind of project we’ve been investing so much of our time and energy into, it feels like the people in the area want us to succeed.”

Rietjens and Watson, both medicinal plant chemistry graduates, participated as a team in NMU’s second annual Mini Pitch competition presented by Invent@NMU with NMU and the Lake Superior Community Partnership on Thursday, March 16, at NMU’s Forest Roberts Theatre.

Similarly to the Big Pitch, NMU’s Mini Pitch is a competition where its intended goal is to show that all ideas are encouraged and worth exploring. It is still a “Shark Tank” style competition where students pitch ideas to a panel of judges to win one of four $500 cash prizes. However, teams are not required to provide a business plan to prove that the teams’ idea is practical.


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