Four NE TN teams capture awards in last night’s “Pitchers & Pitches” competition

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Nine start-ups, including one previously spotlighted in, showcased their products, services or just ideas during last evening’s “Pitchers & Pitches” event in Johnson City.

Hosted by the FoundersForge organization and the Johnson City Doughboys, part of the growing Boyd Sports minor league baseball organization, the event was held at TVA Credit Union Stadium with the start-up Founders “pitching” from the home plate area with those awaiting their turn in the on-deck circle. The baseball analogies continued with one pitch per inning and an introduction for each presenter with the saying, “Let’s play ball.”

There was even a seventh inning stretch with music and an extra inning featuring Jeff Bedard, President and Chief Executive Officer of Crown Laboratories Inc., who described the importance of entrepreneurs understanding their personal “why.” He said, “Don’t give up; never give up. You learn that through the answer to you why.”

Jose Castillo, Co-Founder of Spark Plaza, a local co-working community, served a master of ceremonies. It’s a role that he has perfected through a side gig where Castillo hosts the “NASCAR Trackside Live” stage at NASCAR racing events.

Sylvain Bruni

Sylvain Bruni with MyNICU captured first place and the $7,000 cash prize, while Lauren Glass with RPL came in second and was awarded a $3,000 cash prize. Third place – a six-month co-working membership at valued at $1,800 – went to Abraham McIntyre with Sitters Now. Finally, the Crowd Favorite was awarded to Jacob Windle of Adulting Academy.

Here are descriptions about the winners:

  • MyNICU was described as a simple mobile app that automates intelligently the information spread to families and loved ones in Neonatal Intensive Care Units. The app permits effective and empathetic engagement between families and clinicians with low friction and at a low cost such as a morning report. He has a prototype that was tested in a Boston hospital.
  • RPL is the start-up that we spotlighted RPL in this recent article. Glass has developed a career coaching and mentoring platform with a strong emphasis on colleges and their alumni networks.
  • SittersNow is described as “a fast and efficient scheduling app to book childcare. The app technology also opens the door to relieve the scheduling of anyone who needs to fill a position quickly.” In many respects, it sounded like looking for an Uber and seeing which of your list of sitters first accepts the opportunity.
  • Adulting Academy is focused on individuals like Windle’s sister whom he said wasted a year in college. Saying he’s done it before and the “it” is creating a culture of success, he wants to help teens graduating from high school through a platform that will suggest a path to get there complete with career suggestions and life skills courses that will help.

Other pitchers, in alphabetical order by last name, were:

  • Mark Bodo of Holisticare. “Our healthcare system is sick,” he said. It is a health and wellness membership platform that unifies traditional healthcare and wellness solutions, within a single proactive, artificial intelligence-supported ecosystem that securely helps members live their best life on a daily basis.
  • Ashleigh Hillebrand with Sew Yourself, a mobile application providing customized tailored sewing patterns and instructional guides designed to teach anyone how to sew clothes that fit appropriately. It is a Software-as-a-Service company. She hopes to launch a prototype in early 2022.
  • Katie Houston and Dennis Ashford of FytFeed. Both described struggles with living an active and healthy lifestyle. FytFeed is described as “a fully functioning ecosystem based around a social encouragement platform that promotes an active living lifestyle through community, inclusivity, sharing and learning. FytFeed’s features include shared interactive user activity feeds, exercise tracking and trends, an integrated map that shows local routes and tips, and overlap connections with people in fitness classes.”
  • Jason Marcum of Autobona pitched his idea that is a used car marketplace focused on inventory management for used car dealerships. He said the unique bar code on each vehicle will facilitate addition of cars onto the platform. “We’re going to focus on the little guys,” Marcum said.
  • Joshua Trimm pitched TrimYard, a way to connect homeowners to local lawncare providers. Described as “easy, reliable lawncare,” it is a tool to manage scheduling, customer relationships, billing and other services.

David Nelson

At the beginning last night, David Nelson, Director of FoundersForge, described the entrepreneurial ecosystem he found when he arrived in Johnson City, the effort that he and three colleagues initiated to build FoundersForge that was known in its first incarnation as Startup TriCities, and the result today – 66 known active start-ups.

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