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Powerful Black Founder Pitch Event - Startup of the Year Podcast

· SOTY Podcast

On this special episode of the Startup of the Year podcast, we recap the Startup of the Year online pitch event hosted in September. This pitch event celebrated Black founders and served as a Fast-Track competition for the Top 100 Summit!

Guest judges presiding over the Black Founders Fast-Track Pitch Event:

Shila Nieves Burney: the Founding and Managing Partner at Zane Venture Fund,
Edward Jean-Louis: Partner at Tale Venture Partners,
Aubrie Pagano: General Partner at Corigin Ventures, and
Christie Pitts: General Partner at Backstage Capital.

Fun fact that we discovered about Aubrie during the recording: She's also a Startup of the Year alumnae! Bow & Drape, originally known as Zora, participated in a local startup showcase produced by the Startup of the Year team long ago!

During this pitch event, each team had 2 minutes to tell a story about the problem they are solving, share their business model and vision for scaling, and demonstrate why they're the team to take this company to success. You can watch the full event on our YouTube channel, but in the podcast recording we share small snippets of the event.

CPRWrap pitched first. Founder Felicia Jackson shared stats and facts about cardiac arrest before introducing her product: a patented disposable CPR template to protect and guide any non-medical responder doing CPR.

One of the judges wanted to know whether this product was being sold directly to consumers, or to retailers. Felicia answered, "Our business model is B2B2C, but we are passively selling on our own ecommerce platform to sell direct to consumer. We are also on, but we are focusing on channel partners to get the product out more efficiently."

Skip ahead with us to Freeman Capital. Founder Calvin Williams projected that "in the next fifty years, half of the US population could have a net worth of ZERO unless they take significant action right now!" Freeman Capital was built to address the wealth gap by delivering algorithmic financial advice.

How will this product set itself apart from the market? Calvin says his differentiator is focusing on generational wealth for people of color: "Buying Black and investing Black sets us apart," he adds.

Next, we heard from Travis Holloway of SoLo Funds. Travis pitched his peer-to-peer lending platform to address affordable access to small-dollar loans. SoLo Funds claims to be the only small-dollar, short-term, completely mobile lender.

"Tell us more about usage behavior on the product," Christie Pitts asked. She wanted to know more about repeat customers (on both sides of the platform), and what the repayment rate looked like. Tip for founders delivering a quick pitch: always be prepared with anecdotes from real customers and insights into how their behavior affects your business. Travis expertly answered this question.

The fourth pitch introduced us to Thermaband, a smart wearable device to control body temperature naturally in order to improve quality of life for women who experience uncomfortable temperature fluctuations. Markea Dickinson addressed the company's go-to-market strategy and traction in both her pitch and the follow-up judge Q&As.

Markea would like to partner with women's health clinics and OB-GYNs to be able to acquire customers in the moment where they are discussing this type of health complaint, in addition to launching an ecommerce site.

Youth Enrichments rounded out the fifth pitch in this virtual quick pitch event. Founder Margo Baines aims to address unhealthy self-esteem amongst kids by providing a SaaS e-learning platform to deliver social and emotional learning. The platform is aimed at parents, who would purchase the subscription to enrich their kids' education.

Given that most kids are now distance learning, is there a concern about getting kids engaged in front of a computer? Margo shared that this platform creates interactive experiences with kids from many other areas, and this creates a more unique type of engagement.

Congratulations to Freeman Capital for winning the Pitch Competition! They are now one of the Top 100 Semifinalists at the 8th Annual Startup of the Year Summit. Youth Enrichments also had the honor of taking home the People's Choice Award.

During the episode, we also hear commentary from some of our Established Team members. Rich Maloy from Established Ventures pitches in with the “VC Minute” to provides some advice for planning the amount of capital that a company should set out to raise. We also hear from our VP of Programs, Lori Thiel, with her favorite part about the upcoming Startup of the Year Summit being virtual this year.

Please join us for our upcoming 8th Annual Startup of the Year Summit which will be held online on November 16-18. The Summit is a curated experience for emerging founders, seasoned entrepreneurs, corporate innovation leads, accelerators, and investors to build relationships that fuel success. Summit is also the culmination of the 2020 Startup of the Year competition, and attendees can expect some of the following:

  • The winner can take home up to $20K in potential investment from Established Ventures.
  • There will also be curated connections for the Top 100 with investors and corporate leads.
  • We also plan to have keynote speakers, such as Tim Draper, Mary Grove, and more.
  • And attendees will have the opportunity to network with expert judges and mentors, such as, Phil Nadel, Lesa Mitchell, Erica Minnihan, and more.
  • All programming across the three days will be complimentary for registered attendees.
  • We're building a flexible schedule so that you can best fit programming into your day while not having to miss out on anything - meaning both our featured speakers and helping with homework.
  • Attendees can also participate during 'Ask Me Anything' Sessions with industry experts.
  • Fireside chats from Mike Evans, the co-founder of GrubHub; Rohit Bhargava, the Founder and Chief Trend Curator at the Non-Obvious Company; Meredith Fineman, the Founder of FinePoint and Author Brag Better; and many more.
  • You can lean more about the Summit and register for the event at

This year’s Summit will also highlight the special .US Veteran Startup of the Year category and there will be a $10K non-dilutive cash prize given to a startup founded by a US Veteran - spouse or dependent. Please get your free .US domain today by going to the following link:

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Startup of the Year helps diverse, emerging startups, founding teams, and entrepreneurs push their company to the next level. We are a competition, a global community, and a resource.

Startup of the Year is also a year-long program that searches the country for a geographically diverse set of startups from all backgrounds and pulls them together to compete for the title of Startup of the Year.

The program includes a number of in-person and virtual events, including our annual South By Southwest startup pitch event and competition. All of which culminate at our annual Startup of the Year Summit, where the Startup of the Year winner is announced, along with an opportunity at a potential investment.

Established is a consultancy focused on helping organizations with innovation, startup, and communication strategies. It is the power behind Startup of the Year. Created by the talent responsible for building the Tech.Co brand (acquired by an international publishing company), we are leveraging decades of experience to help our collaborators best further (or create) their brand & accomplish their most important goals. Connect with us on Twitter - @EstablishedUs and Facebook -