Entrepreneurs Bootcamp Alum Wins 1st place and $15,000 at KY Pitch! 

Congratulations to Entrepreneurs Bootcamp alum, Katarina Midelfort, for winning first place and $15,000 in developed business track of the KY Pitch competition! In addition, Katarina placed second in the "Startup Storyteller" video competition, winning $500.  The KY Pitch competition is designed to inspire our innovators and entrepreneurs by providing an inclusive platform for our future leaders to develop and pursue their ideas. Students from Kentucky’s post-secondary colleges and universities are given an opportunity to pitch their business or idea stage concept to a large audience composed of investors, community leaders, and the public.

Katarina Midelfort and Chris Rhodes established Midwest Mulberry in 2023, branching off of prior work with their direct-to-consumer family farm, Purplewood Farm, located on seventeen acres in Scott County, Kentucky.  Katarina is Midwest Mulberry’s Chief Executive Officer managing start-up operations and administration. She is a scientist and engineer with a background in biomolecular engineering and fermentation. She currently works in scale-up of food processes. She holds a bachelor’s in Chemistry/Computer Science option from Carnegie Mellon University, a master’s in Biophysics and Computational Biology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, a doctorate in Biological Engineering from MIT, and has just completed her MBA from the University of Kentucky (Dec., 2022). She provided operations support for Chris’s home inspection company, including writing two business plans and gaining funding through the Veterans Administration. 

Chris Rhodes is Midwest Mulberry’s Chief Operating Officer, managing the orchards in addition to contributing to the company’s planning, sales, and marketing. Chris has run four successful startups, including a home remodeling and repair company (2001–2006) and a home and building inspections company (2007–2016), which she sold in 2016 before relocating to Kentucky. She has successfully run Purplewood Farm since 2018, which focuses on maple syrup, honey, lavender, blueberries, blackberries, wood crafts, and related fruit jams. She is a Marine Corps veteran and holds a bachelor’s in Recreation Management from Eastern Carolina University. Chris and Katarina are both very excited about starting a company for business-to-business sales of mulberries.

Midwest Mulberry will provide the first Kentucky Proud mulberry supply and processing solution, allowing food-based businesses to incorporate sustainable, under-utilized, healthful, and delicious mulberries into their products. Currently, Midwest Mulberry’s primary products are mulberry jam, syrup, compote, and frozen mulberries. In the future, additional products may include mulberry leaves (human tea or supplement powder and animal feed additives), mulberry extract powder for natural colors, and bulk mulberry processing for other berry farmers/pickers as a processing center serving the Midwest. Midwest Mulberry is seeking connections with strategic business partners to facilitate the growth of customer demand, as well as to establish a reliable, substantial supply of Kentucky-grown mulberries.