Entrepreneur’s Greek almond dip catches attention of Project Pitch It moguls

Williams Bay entrepreneur Michael Anagnos has taken a Mediterranean family recipe passed down from his grandmother and used it to start his own food manufacturing business.

His product, Yaya’s Skordalia, is a Greek almond dip made using plant-based products. The startup won this week’s Peg Ann and David Gruber Project Pitch It Award, worth $10,000, on the latest episode of Project Pitch It.

“Plant-based eating is not something that’s a fad,” said Anagnos. “It’s here, it’s something we’re experiencing. You don’t have to give up taste or texture.”

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For the last five years, he’s been selling his Greek almond dip at Milwaukee area farmers markets. Anagnos is now hoping to expand the retail presence of his products. He manufactures and packages all of his dips – 13 flavors — with the help of his wife and a longtime friend.

Hartland-based Inclusion Coffee Company was this week’s winner of the Jerry Jendusa/UWM Lubar Entrepreneurship Award. Owner Mackenzie Edinger took home a $5,000 cash prize, as well as support services including investment guidance and mentoring from UW-Milwaukee’s Lubar Entrepreneurship Center and “BreakthruU.”

Inclusion Coffee Shop employs individuals living with various disabilities and aims to provide them with a fun yet challenging environment as they master everyday skills like cooking, handling money and customer service. The shop has about 20 employees.

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Edinger initially thought she would become an early education/special education teacher, but found herself taking a non-traditional path toward helping others.

“I am teaching, just in a different way,” she said. “We do want to spread inclusion to more than just the Hartland and Lake Country area.”

Edinger hopes to buy and renovate a mobile coffee cart to employ more people. Inclusion Coffee Company has a waitlist of 150 people looking for a job.

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Mequon entrepreneur Kishoree Boegel won the We Energies/DNA Award, which includes a $1,500 cash prize and at least one session of mentoring in marketing from a company leader.

Boegel opened her shop Cocoa Tree Confectionary in March 2020, right as the COVID-19 pandemic shook up the retail and restaurant industries as we know them. She believes she’s still in business for two reasons: the quality and beauty of her chocolates. Boegel makes her products with chocolate by Barry Callebaut, purées and fresh fruit from Boiron and local farmers’ markets, and butter, cream, and milk from the dairy farms of Wisconsin.

“Every single recipe, I came up with those, and they’re a labor of love, so I’m really proud,” said Boegel. “We use only the best of everything. It’s expensive and the costs have gone up.”

She hopes to expand her physical footprint in Mequon to increase efficiency, as well as bring classes to the community.

The next episode of Project Pitch It airs Saturday at 10:30 p.m. on WISN-TV Channel 12 in Milwaukee. BizTimes Media is a media partner for Project Pitch It.

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