Michael Wheeler, of Anchorage, beat out five other entrepreneurs with goals of expanding or starting their home-grown business in a “Shark Tank”-style pitch competition during Wednesday’s Juneau Economic Development Council Innovation Summit.
Wheeler and his business “Alaska Food Network” won over a crowd of business owners and peers in a crowd vote. The “Alaskan Food Network” is a food box service that delivers goods on a biweekly basis all across the state. Wheeler said the difference between his business and his competitors is focusing on better living through fresh products.
“We want to expand our business and promote a healthier lifestyle,” Wheeler said.
The boxes come in three different sizes and offer organic and conventional boxes that can be customized based on interests. Wheeler works with Alaska-based companies including chocolate, flowers and chip manufacturers.
Wheeler explained he needed the boost because his company wants to reach out to more communities and offer more deliveries. He explained he had lost 15 percent of his customers in the year-plus the company has started because of his customers moving out of State.
As a prize, Wheeler took home an Alaska Airlines ticket to anywhere the airlines travels, and split a pot of $1,900 along with runner-up Juneau resident Jake Carpenter.
Carpenter’s idea, an app called “Wheelhouse,” is in its early stages with the hopes of bringing the state of Alaska fishing communities together. He explained how the app would offer people in the fishing industry a place to work together in bettering their livelihood through social media, teaching progams and guidance.
“There more than 45,000 people in the Alaska ocean industry that we want to connect,” Carpenter said. “We like to offer a way to track progress, offer chats, gear, news and opportunities.”
Wheeler, a Juneau resident since he was 9, said his connection to the town is something he would like to carry over with his company.
“As a kid growing up in Juneau, I always thought it was the perfect place for a start-up,” Wheeler said. “I want this to be a Juneau-based business that can carry over across the country.”
• Contact Reporter Gregory Philson at email@example.com or call at 523-2265.