Wednesday, November 2, 2016

EforAll All Ideas Pitch Contest Recap

Olu Ibrahim -- Kids in Tech
Last Thursday's EforAll All Ideas Pitch Contest at Middlesex Community College in Lowell attracted a huge crowd. It was standing room only for the pitch presentations. The tables were busy and the hallway crowded. It was really bustling. The wonderful thing about an "all ideas" pitch contest is the range of products, services, and nonprofit organizations being presented. Tables showcased everything from a wood fired pizza provider to after school programs. Attendees got to vote for a "Table Favorite" that we wanted to add to the already chosen finalists.
Bennett Brothers Balm
At the very first table I visited Harry and Heath Bennett did a very professional job of telling me the story behind Bennett Brothers Balm and convincing me to vote for them to have a chance to pitch. I don't think anyone was surprised when they won the Table Favorite slot. The idea for Bennett Brothers Balm came when a friend of theirs was diagnosed with cancer. They wanted to raise money for cancer research at Dana Farber and produce something that might make their friend more comfortable during chemo. They came up with a lip and body balm that they make in their parents' kitchen and sell online and at various events. They want to move up to the next step with a facility that will allow them to get the approvals necessary to sell their balm at places like Whole Foods and hospital gift shops. They took full advantage of the opportunity and totally nailed the pitch. The audience voted them Fan Favorite, so they took home a check for $500. EforAll has had young entrepreneurs pitch before (a 14-year old pitched a pet adoption website a few years back) but the Bennett Brothers at ages 7 and 11 are the youngest ever to pitch at an EforAll pitch contest.
Crowd Checking Out the Tables
I very much enjoyed talking with Olu Ibrahim about her Kids in Tech project. We were on the same page about getting more kids in our beloved Merrimack Valley interested in computer and information technology at a younger age. This valley has a long history of technology development and innovation from way back and the top 5 unfilled jobs in the valley right now are in tech.
Olu Ibrahim Pitching Kids in Tech
Phoenix Rising Pizza impressed judges and audience with a very well thought out pitch and business plan for their mobile wood-fired pizza. That's right, they operate a mobile brick oven and make classic Neapolitan style pizza on site. This is taking the food truck craze to the next level!  Not surprisingly, they won the $1000 first prize.
Team Phoenix Rising Pizza Accepting First Place Check
Flaire pitched a wearable safety device that you can attach to jewelry or some other accessory so it doesn't attract attention. It's a simple and discreet way to call for help in an emergency. You just press a button to send your location and a request for help to your emergency contacts. Team Flaire won second place -- a cool $750.
Flaire Team
Another truly brilliant idea was the curbside service for picking up food scraps and composting them by Roots Compost. Just fill the bucket with your food waste and they pick it up and turn it into nutrient-rich soil. The service is currently available for Lawrence, Andover, North Andover, Methuen, and Haverhill. They took home the $500 third prize.
Nancy - Roots Compost
The Judges were Denise Ban of Simply Khmer, Matteo Forgione of Forgione Engineering, Shankar Hedge of Iris Group, Kim Morrissey of Middlesex Community College, and Leah Okimoto of Aaron's Presents. They listened intently, asked good questions, and took their time deliberating. I agree with their picks, so they must be good judges, right? :-)
Lianna Briefing the Judges before the Pitches
Other chosen pitchers were The MILL - Maker Innovation Lab, ZwiftPay, and the wild card, MyCostello, picked out of a pottery jug from The Pottery Mill this time instead of a hat. I enjoyed them all. I loved ZwiftPay's idea for a wireless payment platform to pay for gas. I can picture gas stations adopting this quickly - especially around here where credit card skimmers are popping up almost daily. The Maker Innovation Lab's maker space in Lawrence is already nurturing makers making cool things. Jerry Costello's  MyCostello Software does custom software to help you manage your data. Oh, and there were a couple of student pitches from MCC students to round out the time while the judges deliberated. Ideas just flew around all over.
Team ZwiftPay
The Pottery Mill had live demonstrations.
Pottery Mill
As I mentioned above, the tables were very busy and the hallway crowded, so I didn't get a chance to talk to every single one of the entrepreneurs, let alone take their pictures. It was great to see Jonathan Richmond pushing Takeoff Space, an excellent idea for working with brilliant but disadvantaged students to improve their chances for getting into elite colleges.  I enjoyed talking with Viera Admin Solutions , Creare, Rival Gymnastics,  and Drip Edge Furniture too.
Viera Admin Solutions


Drip Edge Furniture

Rival Gymnastics

Takeoff Space
It was such a great event that I can barely capture it in a blog post.  Entrepreneurs of our beloved valley, get yourselves to the next EforAll Lowell Lawrence event! You will be glad you did.

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