Make the pitch | Features

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Meet some of TCNewTech’s innovative alumni
By Alexandra Dailey | November 12, 2022

Every day we share our dreams with the world. We pitch our ideas to friends, co-workers, family members, baristas – anyone who listens to us about what we think the next big thing might be or what plans we have for the future.

But what if you were offered a real elevator pitch opportunity, on stage, in front of a group of potential investors? (As shark tankbut without the drama.) Could you stand up in front of an audience of your peers and competitors to share your big idea?

If your answer is yes, we know where you need to go. At TCNewTech’s monthly events at the City Opera House in Traverse City, aspiring entrepreneurs have five minutes longer than your standard elevator ride to showcase their projects and pique the interest of onlookers in hopes of winning the popular vote and the cash prize for the evening.

Origins and impact of TCNewTech
A community of Michigan technology enthusiasts, businesses, entrepreneurs, and policy makers, TCNewTech is focused on creating a culture of innovation, economic growth, and opportunity for local talent in the Traverse area. City.

In 2001, TCNewTech founder Russell Schindler realized that Traverse City’s tech community was larger than he had imagined, but they didn’t connect with each other. Many in technical positions, such as coders, programmers and IT staff, were working from home and had no outlet to network with others in their field. Schindler decided to launch TCNewTech as a way for people committed to tech careers to get together once a month and become part of the local tech community in a personal way.

The other main aspect of TCNewTech is the opportunity to pitch at every meeting. On the first Tuesday of every month, five presenters are selected from a pool of applicants, and they have five minutes on stage to pitch their new tech product or company to raise awareness and potentially find investors. They also have five minutes to answer questions from the audience to further explain and promote their idea.

“Pitching has value,” says Schindler, “but connecting like-minded people [is] the actual value.

Chris Nesbit, Director of Events, Sales and Marketing at TCNewTech, adds, “The TC community has provided fantastic support for the program as a whole. There is a strong ecosystem of local support groups including Traverse Connect, 20Fathoms and a serious battery of investors. The startup/entrepreneur community sees TCNewTech as the starting point for a robust startup roadman.

At each monthly meeting, TCNewTech adds a graduate to its ranks. Individuals need to deliver engaging, informative, and digestible presentations — not all attendees are interested in technology — and they need a solid concept to win. Once the presentations are over, the public votes via the TCNT app to announce the winner of the evening.

What does it take to win the night and what happens after the check is cut? We reached out to three recent TCNewTech pitch winners to see what they’re up to.

Elizabeth Saunders, well-fed market
Saunders, a Traverse City native, was voted best presentation at the May 2022 TCNewTech meeting for her food-sharing app, Wellfed Market, which Saunders says “is a mobile food-sharing app aimed at reducing food consumption. both food insecurity and food waste.

Wellfed Market empowers consumers to mitigate the environmental effects of food waste, reduce hunger, and connect communities through food to ultimately localize America’s food system.

When it came to winning the TCNewTech public vote, Saunders was thrilled. “I have a lot of respect and admiration for the TCNewTech community. Knowing that my app has been validated by the same people I aspire to become, I am more motivated than ever to produce an app that supports innovation for the Grand Traverse region.

A familiar face to the TCNewTech crowd, Saunders once launched while still in high school, promoting CalcuSaver, an app that would discreetly send help if you got into an uncomfortable or dangerous situation.

As a junior at Georgetown University, Saunders hopes to expand his application to Washington DC, a region with food insecurity rates of more than 33%. “In striving to create a more sustainable food supply chain, Wellfed Market is working to close the gap between excess food wasted and feeding hungry people,” says Saunders.

Broc Crandall, stocked
Crandall won the June 2022 pitch competition with its app called Stocked, “a fantastic fusion of technology and function,” according to the TCNewTech blog. Crandall’s goal is to keep Airbnbs and short-term vacation homes in the area stocked with local food and supplies, promoting local businesses and the economy.

Stocked’s grocery delivery service would allow vacationers to enjoy more of the beautiful Traverse City area and spend less time shopping while supporting local businesses. Plus, ordering and scheduling groceries online makes planning meals and snacks a breeze.

His “well-organized, well-marked, and overall well-executed pitch” explaining his use of scratch-off algorithms that ensure stock counts and current prices won over audiences.

Vishnu Mano, observer
In September, Vishnu Mano, a teenager from Grand Rapids, wowed audiences through a remote presentation for his parking app, Spotter.

Spotter’s mobile app was designed to help individuals find parking, but with a new approach. The app uses a combination of sensors, security camera footage, and other modes of technology to notify drivers of which parking lots or parking structures have vacancies, how many spaces are available, and where they are. Spotter aims to save time and reduce the frustration that many of us experience when looking for a place to park.

Other winners 2022
Beyond the innovators listed above, TCNewTech 2022 winners include: WellBeing Connect, an app to connect wellness professionals, clients and places (January); Auxin Games, an “edutainment” company that seeks to make education interactive, immersive and fun (February); Hypersence, a wearable technology company with products like MemorySPEX, eyewear designed to improve cognitive function and slow the aging process (March); Fresh Life, a ready-meal service start-up (April); MeetingMaker, an app to help “those recovering from and/or required to attend court-mandated meetings” (August); Coordinista, a medical sharing application (October); and Lakebed 2030, an initiative to map the bed of the Great Lakes by the end of 2030 (November).

So, now that you know how TCNewTech works, what’s your elevator pitch?

Visit tcnewtech.org to apply for one of their upcoming meetings. Tuesday, December 6 is the last remaining 2022 pitch date for TCNewTech. Meetings are free and open to the public, and everyone is welcome to attend, not just members of the tech community.

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