Current Blend pitch contest helps fund two local startups

Sourced from Dubois County Free Press

Huntingburg—Last week, Current Blend hosted a pitch contest which ended with two local entrepreneurs receiving grant money to support their aspirations.

Individuals and teams shared their business, innovation, or entrepreneurial idea before a panel of judges in hopes of earning prize money to invest in their startup. This competition, sponsored by Current Blend and Elevate Southwest Indiana, a partnership between Elevate Ventures and the Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana, was organized to kickstart the entrepreneurial community of Southwest Indiana and the ideas it contains.

The competition allowed nine local entrepreneurs five minutes to pitch their idea and four minutes to answer questions. Judges scored companies based on team, market fit, product/solution, customer traction or roadmap and their overall presentations. Judges included Brew co-owner Josh Premuda, German American Bancorp President and CEO Mark Schroeder, Matrix Integrations CEO Brenda Stallings and Elevate Ventures Entrepreneur-in-Residence Jacob Schpok.

“We were extremely pleased with the turnout, both from participants and the community, and excited to provide the winners with funds to advance their ideas,” said Elevate Ventures Entrepreneurial Engagement Director Eric Steele. Steele oversees the Elevate Southwest Indiana partnership.

Parasite ID was the startup that impressed the judges and earned first place, receiving a $4,000 prize. Second place, and a $2,000 prize, went to an idea for a multi-spectral camera for medical diagnostics. Basket Case Brewing and Hydro Grow tied for third, both taking home $1,000.

Basket Case Brewing is working on expanding from the current location at the Millhouse Restaurant into their own full-time brewpub in Jasper. The company has raised about $60,000 of the necessary funding to begin that move.

Ben Potter’s idea for a camera designed to scan and detect cancer or other illnesses uses patented technology from Crane Naval Base. Potter was introduced to the technology during a special event put on Current Blend in 2015 highlighting the naval station’s technology and patent sharing programs. Potter demonstrated a prototype at the event. The grant he was awarded will be used to procure a patent for the device before he moves to the next stage of production

An Evansville pharmacist’s idea to create a cost-effective and easy to use lice detection system took the top award. With a special strip and water, school nurses, facility managers and daycares can simply diagnose whether lice are present in a sample taken from someone’s scalp.

Companies or ideas that were pitched at the competition include:

  • Antiquely—A platform to connect customers directly with antique mall vendors to allow real-time price negotiations.
  • Hydro Grow, LLC— Provides users with the Gropod, an aeroponic appliance that uses machine learning to grow produce three times faster than conventional farming methods, while using 95% less water without the use of pesticides to yield a serving of leafy greens every day.
  • Listing Database—A mobile phone app that serves as a centralized listing database, compiling real-time information about local vendors in a city for the user to view. The app will list City Events, Dining, Drinking, and Shopping individual events in real-time, beginning with which is closest to the user.e