Startup SOUP is a TechTown pitch competition designed to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses through microfunding. Each finalist will make a business pitch, and field questions from the audience. The event is an entrepreneurial twist on the highly popular Detroit SOUP community fundraising dinner.
Over bowls of soup, the audience will deliberate then vote for their favorite. The Startup SOUP winner will receive $1,500, courtesy of event sponsors Hennessey Capital and Huntington Bank, as well as workshop vouchers from TechTown.
Let’s take a look a the presenting finalists:
- Marlo Rencher, Good Sweat, Detroit: Good Sweat is an online platform that enables people to raise money and awareness for causes they believe in. The company supports the creation of personal fundraising events, and the solicitation of support and participation from Facebook friends and Twitter followers. It also provides a mechanism by which a user’s friends and family can donate money to the nonprofit organization of their choice. Through Good Sweat, people can inspire others to act and be active in philanthropy.
- Thiago Olson, Protean, Detroit: Protean is a start-up mobile app company. Its product, Echo, is a reprogrammable smart card that mimics cards typically found in a consumer’s wallet. Echo syncs wirelessly with a mobile app that stores an unlimited number of cards and creates a channel for communication between merchants and consumers. By consolidating a consumer’s plastic collection into one card/mobile app, Echo frees consumers from wallet clutter and improves the payment experience. Since Echo holders are more likely to have store cards readily available, merchants pay lower fees on these transactions and capture more customer data. Merchants also benefit from an unprecedented opportunity to communicate directly with consumers while they are shopping via a location-sensitive payment app.
- Jordan Silverman, Star Toilet Paper, Ann Arbor: Star Toilet Paper prints advertisements and coupons on its patented toilet paper, and supplies the product to public venues at no charge by virtue of advertising revenue. Star Toilet Paper’s unique product allows companies to advertise to captive audiences in a cost-efficient manner. The toilet paper gives users readily available reading material and coupons during a time when they would otherwise be indisposed and unproductive.
- Brandon Knight, Rhiza Food Co., Highland Park: Rhiza Food Co. is a four-season, for-profit urban production and teaching farm that emphasizes organic and ecologically-sound production. It currently grows vegetables, fruits and herbs in a 24-by-60-foot passive solar hoop house, a 60-by-80-foot outdoor field, and an eight-tray indoor microgreens production space. Plans for value-added products using “estate-grown” produce are underway with an expected production start date of fall 2012. Products will be sold at Highland Park Farmers Market beginning Aug. 6, and to metro Detroit chefs, caterers and local residents. Short-term plans are to train and hire additional staff and expand production capacity.