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Introducing our IMPACT Pitch Judges & MC!

We are honored to have such an accomplished group of business leaders judge the live IMPACT Pitch competition this year, including the 2017 Best Established Business Winner and Founder of Repair Revolution Eli Alilson, the Founder and CEO of Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream, Molly Moon Neitzel, and Michael Powell, returning judge and Senior Vice President at Harborstone Credit Union! From a 40 year legacy of helping local entrepreneurs turn their dreams into realities, to founding Seattle’s iconic ice cream establishment, to revolutionizing the auto repair industry, our panelists have an immense range of expertise and a serious dedication to making their communities better through business.

Business Impact NW is also incredibly excited to have César Amaral, MX360 Fitness Visionary and CEO, emcee the event. Purchase tickets to IMPACT Pitch on September 19th to meet these amazing people in person!

MEET OUR 2019 Judges:

Molly Moon Neitzel, Founder and CEO of Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream

Q: What positive IMPACT does small business have on your community?

A: Small business is such an important part of all communities. Small businesses provide community Molly Moongathering places, which is what Molly Moon’s has provided since we opened our doors. We’re a multigenerational space where folks of all ages, races and backgrounds can connect. Small businesses create jobs for folks that live in the community as well, and we strive to provide the best jobs with the best benefits to our community.

Q: What role do small businesses play in creating opportunity and community?

A: Molly Moon’s makes it a priority to create great jobs with great pay and benefits to our communities. We have a kitchen in every neighborhood not just to provide the freshest ice cream possible, but also to create chef and maker jobs in each neighborhood as well. Small businesses create economic opportunity through jobs, but also through partnerships and by giving back. We source ingredients locally, we partner and collaborate with local makers and producers, and we also give back 1% of sales or 10% of profits (whichever is greater) to organizations in our communities that are doing amazing work for race equity, women empowerment and to fight hunger for families through food bank donations. Mission-driven small businesses that have good values and give back are such an important part of the community!

Q: What are you most excited about at this year’s IMPACT Pitch?

A: I’m so excited to see what kinds of business ideas are involved in this year’s competition! It’s so encouraging to see that people are starting businesses to help their communities thrive, and to give back! I started Molly Moon’s to give back and to create great jobs to take care of people in Seattle, to purchase from local producers and to be an example for other businesses on how they can do the right thing for the community and the environment and still be impressively profitable. I know I’ll be inspired by the entrepreneurs in this competition, and can’t wait to hear about their plans!

Michael Powell, Senior Vice President & Chief Lending Officer, Harborstone Credit Union

Q: Tell us a bit about the positive impact Harborstone makes on the lives of small business owners.

A: In addition to the positive impact we have had on small business owners by being the Presenting Sponsor of IMPACT Pitch for the past four years, our various partnerships with organizations like Business Impact Northwest has enabled Harborstone to provide business owners with access to loans and capital that has been vital and necessary to help them grow or sustain their businesses.

Through trusted relationships Harborstone provides financial empowerment to small business owners through advice, education, and banking products and services that helps them realize their full potential.

Q: What positive IMPACT does small business have on your community?

A: Where I live small business owners have filled empty storefronts as retailers, restaurateurs, and service providers who are the embodiment of the spirit of the American Dream. These businesses have become as much a part of the community as its homeowners and have the added benefit of providing jobs and keeping dollars spent by consumers in the local community. 

Q: What role do small businesses play in creating opportunity and community? 

A: We know that since the Great Recession that small businesses have been responsible for the creation of over 62 percent of all net new private-sector jobs. And these employers are our friends and neighbors who operate their businesses in the communities we live and play in.

These entrepreneurs support their communities by providing that first job for high school or college kids or meaningful employment for heads of households or that single parent. They are the backbone and fabric of our economy. Without them, the American Dream, the ideal by which equality of opportunity is available to any American, allowing the highest aspirations and goals to be achieved, does not exist.

Q: As a returning judge, what about IMPACT Pitch do you look forward to the most?

A: As a returning judge I am looking forward to seeing once again how in an instant we literally change the lives of business owners and their businesses. Just when you think it couldn’t be possible, these finalist have stepped up their game over and above what the prior year’s finalists have presented. This is all due in part to the great work Business Impact Northwest provides to these businesses through their education, mentoring, and advice.

Eli Allison, Founder, Repair Revolution They/them, She/her, He/him

Q: How has small business ownership impacted your life and the lives of those you serve? 

A: Owning a small business has given me the opportunity to disrupt the automotive repair industry where sexism, racism and homophobia are accepted as business as usual. We have created a safe place for folks to bring their cars for repairs and for our staff who struggled to find a safe work environment to thrive.

Owning a small business often gives us the opportunity to have a voice at the table. Our business has a social justice heart and we are very vocal about our vision for equity in the trades for employees and customers who traditionally get discriminated against in this arena. Marginalized communities need role models especially in non-traditional fields and we get to provide that. 

Q: What role do small businesses play in creating opportunity and community? 

A: Small businesses have a responsibility and an opportunity to build community through engaging with their customers and employees to build a better world. Small business ownership has made me realize the importance of telling our stories. The adversity I have faced in my life alongside what I witness other marginalized people go through inspires me to do what I do and hopefully inspires others to live their truth and build their dreams. We also believe part of building community and creating opportunity is giving back so we donate between 5 and 10% of our profits to community organizations dedicated to social justice and donate a lot of volunteer hours as well. 

Q: What are you most excited about at this year’s IMPACT Pitch?

I am always excited to see inspired business owners who are passionate about what they do and have built their businesses in order to make a positive impact in their communities. There are some amazing businesses participating this year as always. 


César Amaral, Visionary and CEO, MX360 Fitness 

Q: What role have small businesses played in shaping your life?

A: The Latino people have an entrepreneurial spirit and this has been with me since I was young. I’ve met many small business owners who have helped and mentored me. They have definitely molded me in life and business.   

Q: How has small business ownership impacted your life?

A: It has taught me how to value and honor what is truly important in my life. Living a life of purpose is key. Business ownership is rewarding, fulfilling as well as challenging. Learning how to navigate through the ups and downs has made me better and stronger.  

Q: What positive IMPACT does small business have on your community?

A: Small business owners/ entrepreneurs are providing solutions to so many of our communities obstacles. It is a win, win, win for all.  

Q: What are you most excited about at this year’s IMPACT Pitch?

A: Networking with other business owners and hearing more about them and their missions. 


Join us at IMPACT Pitch on September 19th for a chance to meet our judges and emcee. To purchase tickets, visit: businessimpactnw.org/tickets

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