$9k awarded to entrepreneurs during second Dubois County pitch competition

USI student Aaron Gray pitched his idea for a ridesharing application sponsored through colleges that allowed college students to meetup to share the costs for the rides during Monday’s second pitch competition hosted by Current Blend and Elevate Ventures at Brew in Jasper.

Entrepreneurs from Bloomington, Evansville and Dubois County had to pitch their ideas quick.

With four minutes to explain the basic concept of their projects and two minutes to answer questions from the judges and audience, the dozen contestants had to up their showmanship and flex their elevator pitches to be in the running for prize money to help them bring their business ideas to fruition. Three were slated to win with $4,000 going to the first place winner and $3,000 and $2,000 going to the runners-up.

Ideas ranged across a gamut of different industries and were judged by representatives by Brenda Stallings, Matrix Integration CEO and board president of Current Blend, Katie Birge, executive director of Launch Indy and Jason Salstrom, director of WestGate at Crane Naval Base.

In deciding on the top three contenders for the money, judges had to pick between ideas like a company producing fresh-baked all natural dog food and treats, a web app that curates users adventures in the outdoors, a mobile app designed to help broke college students with ride sharing, an email app that allows businesses to update sales prices or availability in real time, virtual reality equipment for realtors, an app to curate earnings calls for stock traders and even a music tutoring service for schools to use in place of teachers.

This is the second year for the event hosted by Elevate Venture and Current Blend. Last year, it was hosted at Current Blend and this year it was moved to Brew in Jasper.

Courtney Knies, Current Blend’s community development coordinator, said the event is a great way for entrepreneurs to see different ideas and network with other potential businesses.

The networking and connections that take place at these events are just as valuable as any prize money,” she explained adding that entrepreneurship succeeds and grows in a community. “So bringing that community together and expanding it helps each idea to be sharpened”

Events that bring people into the same room to brainstorm are important.

“Entrepreneurship breeds more entrepreneurship,” Knies said. “As members in our community hear these ideas, often it sparks a new idea or encourages them to pursue an idea they’ve been musing on. By learning about other entrepreneurs in our community, there are more resources and community being built to encourage further growth”

Returning ideas included Henderson firefighter Michael Polley’s idea for a system of transponders to track firefighters’ movements inside burning buildings. The transponders would also detect if a firefighter fell and alert other firefighters on scene of an emergency situation with one of their teammates. The tracking would be monitored on a phone or tablet and would integrate an augmented reality overview of the scene.

Jasper resident Ben Potter also returned to the contest to pitch his idea to pivot last year’s winning idea of a scanner for medical applications to a new camera system and monitoring service for turkey and chicken flocks. The cameras would use different spectrums of light like infrared to monitor the movements of the birds in the houses overnight and notify farmers of potential issues with their flocks. His idea came in third this year.

Roger Morris, Bloomington, is working on a special credit card service that is attached to a bank that automatically pays off the balances each month to help young people build credit. It was the judges pick for second place. Morris told them he already has students signed up to take advantage of the service called Zoro.

The top prize went to Predictive Wear out of West Lafayette. The team has prototyped a compression sock with sensors designed to predict or detect the occurrence of a blood clot. The socks are usually required for individuals after procedures like knee replacements. According to the developers, blood clots occur in about 11 percent of all knee replacement surgeries.

Knies said she felt the event was a great success. “It was great to have the event for the second year and hear people ask about next year’s event while they were leaving,” she said.

A full list and description of the dozen presenters is below.

Adventure Field Guides, AJ O’Reilly, Bloomington

Adventure Field Guides is a Software as a Service company that helps cities and counties leverage their outdoor tourism. Outdoor tourism is one of the fastest growing areas of the tourism sector, attracting high value customers that support local economies. We help destinations leverage this area of tourism by easily allowing them to share the outdoor assets their communities have such as hiking trails, campgrounds, etc. This also helps create a “sense of place” for their current community.

Clear Creek Natural Products, Brad Freeman, Bloomington

Clear Creek Natural Products is taking a unique approach to providing premium dog foods by manufacturing fresh-baked Farmer’s Blend Recipe Dog Food Bars. These bars are made from limited ingredients intended for human consumption and come either refrigerated or frozen. Besides the Farmer’s Blend, our goal is to launch several other limited ingredient recipes including Frog Dog Lamb & Rice, Fiesta Dog, Potato Rustler and Quack! Our tagline is, “Minimal Processing for Maximum Nutrition”.

Opportunity, Aaron Gray, Evansville

Opportunity will be a ride board app, that safely allows college students to post open seats on trips they are already making for other students to split the fuel cost and eliminate redundant cars on the road making duplicate trips.

IRLCommunication, Sarah Straub, Ferdinand

IRLCommunication allows content to be dynamic after an email has been deployed. Promotions and products can be changed after the email has been received. Attributes such as out of stock product or product that has been popular based on interaction with the email or promotions can change to entice the viewer to purchase. IRLCommunication is based on machine learning identifying viewer behavior along with changes in supply and business strategies.

Live Music Tutor, PJ Schitter, Evansville

Live Music Tutor provides an online interactive music platform that connects instructors, students and music enthusiasts around the globe in one convenient place to share their passion. Delivering instructors to students through a secure platform that is both fun, social and engaging through Innovative design with crisp audio and video with little or no latency. Master classes can be given by one instructor to up to 45 students all in different locations simultaneously.

Heliponix, Scott Massey, Evansville

Heliponix provides consumers, restaurants, and institutions the GroPod™, an IoT enabled aeroponic appliance that grows leafy green vegetables and dwarf varieties of specialty crops. The patented, self cleaning, rotary aeroponic™ design yields more vegetables (50lbs/sq-ft or a head of leafy greens on a daily basis) in an appliance the size of a dishwasher with unsurpassed energy efficiency ($7 total energy cost). Users subscribe to recurring monthly shipments of nonperishable seed pods™ and nutrients. Our machine learning API optimizes the growing environment for each individual user’s GroPod relative to their crop selection.   

Predictive Wear, Dane Albaugh, West Lafayette (1st Place)

Predictive Wear brings the gold standard of therapy for CVI, compression socks, into the 21st century by embedding sensors into the fabric of the socks, continuously collecting data and offering this data to physicians, patients and insurers. Our goal is to generate high growth by empowering physicians, fostering patient-physician communication and reducing unnecessary medical expenses and setbacks for patients. After targeting the CVI market, we will address other diseases which utilize compression socks and could benefit from our technology such as congestive heart failure, lymphedema, post-operative edema and in-patient DVT.

Ghost, Michael Polley, Henderson, KY

The concept that I would like to pitch is for an accountability device of personnel subject to hazardous and IDLH atmospheres.  The device would give a forward horizontal view of the user using a tablet or phone device taking into account the GPS location of the device and displaying the location using Augmented Reality.  Basically you are seeing a GPS point normally seen from an overhead view and turning it into a GPS point seen from a first-person view.

Borsa, Hadi Yousef, Evansville

Publicly traded companies conduct conference calls where they discuss their company’s performance every quarter. These conference calls are called earnings calls. Accessing and listening to these earnings calls is extremely difficult because every company puts their earnings calls on their own website. Borsa makes listening to earnings calls as easy as listening to your favorite podcast by taking every earnings call and putting it into one easy-to-use app.

Zoro, Roger Morris, Bloomington (2nd Place)

Without a credit history, the only two ways to build credit are to pay a $500+ security deposit for a secured credit card or find a co-signer to take a risk on your behalf. Unfortunately, this has left millions of Americans behind and an estimated 53 million don’t have a credit score. That’s why we created Zoro Card, the debit card that builds credit. With Zoro, anyone can build credit regardless of their credit history.

Forge and Temper, Jack Dreesen, Bloomington

A survey conducted by Coldwell Banker found that 77% of Americans “would love to take VR house tours before visiting them.” For homebuyers, the main benefit of viewing houses through VR saves them the time needed to tour the house in person. For relocation buyers it can save money spent on traveling, and lower the burden of finding a good house in just one stressful weekend.      

Potter Industries, Ben Potter, Jasper (3rd Place)

Potter Industries LLC is working to provide smart monitoring and diagnostic vision systems. We are currently working on farm monitoring vision systems to ensure flock health, minimize losses, and provide peace of mind for farmers and flock owners.

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