2023 Makers’ Mart Competition

Makers’ Mart is the region’s largest entrepreneurial competition. It allows the community of leaders who attend Catalyst University to lift up regional entrepreneurs. Attendees will support these small businesses and gain awareness of their products, ultimately growing their company’s impact and boosting our region’s economy.

The Makers’ Mart 2023 winner was Toya Williams of Aunt Nay’s Cookies and Treats! Congratulations to her on receiving the most votes during the two days at Catalyst University. The other three Makers’ finalists were:

  • Aaron Henry of Hank Built, LLC
  • Gretchen Schmidt of Gretchen’s Bakery
  • Lalonie Willhite of Hydr8 Organics Haircare

The competition’s winner receives:

  • $2,500 in cash
  • Over $5,000 worth of legal, marketing, and accounting consulting
  • Recognition on stage at Catalyst University

Western Michigan University Haworth College of Business
Miller Johnson
Newhall Klein
Value Added Accounting Services

The Process

The Makers’ Selection Committee will select up to five finalists to highlight at Catalyst University. Attendees will cast votes for their favorite maker. The winner will be announced live onstage during the second day of the event.


Requirements for companies looking to enter the competition include:

  • Must sell an existing product with annual sales of $500,000 or less
  • Must be a company owned and operated in Southwest Michigan (Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, and Van Buren Counties)
  • Available for photoshoot mid-November to early-December at a location of your choosing
  • Must display and sell product(s) during Catalyst University 2023
  • Maker is allowed (1) support person to help during event
  • Must graciously accept the final winner as determined by voters at Catalyst University
  • Past applicants are allowed to re-apply. Previous winners may not re-apply with the same company, but may submit a new company for consideration.
  • Must permit the Catalyst University team to market the company, product, and applicant without interference