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May 06, 2020 | Tom Ballard

Seven entrepreneurs pitch ideas during virtual finale for the 14-week PreFlight program

With nearly 100 people viewing the event at its height, seven entrepreneurs who had spent the first part of 2020 participating in the Nashville Entrepreneur Center’s (EC) PreFlight program pitched their ideas virtually to an appreciative audience on Tuesday night.

It was a diverse set of ideas – from ways to clarify and simplify the college admissions process for high school students to a jersey exchange service for true sports enthusiasts and a resource tool and dashboard to help parents with autistic sons and daughters.

It was the EC’s first-ever virtual pitch event, according to Brynn Plummer, Vice President for Inclusion and Community Relations. She moderated the nearly two-hour event that featured seven-minute pitches by the budding entrepreneurs and a follow-on period of Q&A.

According to the EC website, “PreFlight is a 14-week virtual program that walks step-by-step with first-time entrepreneurs – from “I have an idea” to “I have a business” – empowering them with the knowledge and support as they seek to bring their businesses to life.”

The next PreFlight cohort starts June 8, and the entire 14-week experience will be delivered virtually, something that Plummer said would open an opportunity for entrepreneurs from outside Nashville to participate.

The seven ideas, some more fully developed than others, were:

  • College Leaps was described as “college access for all.” As explained by Co-Founder Angie Allen, she and two other teachers with more than 30 years of combined experience saw the need to clarify and simplify the college admissions process to help deserving students who run into barriers. They plan to rollout a beta version of their minimum viable product (MVP) this fall.
  • Jersey Exchange was Mike Miles’ idea of a subscription service that allows fans to rent jerseys instead of buying them. “Some people own as many as 20 jerseys,” he said. The plan is to start the service in Nashville and expand one city at a time.
  • People on Purpose was LaToya Bailey’s concept to help businesses reduce turnover and increase engagement of their employees. She based the idea on her own experience when she successfully asked for a promotion, then resigned shortly after receiving it. “One in two employees leave their job because of their manager,” Bailey explained.
  • For Teresa Vasquez, Autism Possible: Mission Control is based on her personal experience raising a son with autism. “At five years old, he asked me to help him be brave,” she said. Knowing the stress that families with autistic members feel, she developed an MVP based on 10 years of research that is both a “powerful suite of life skill resources and a dashboard.”
  • Afrodrft is Jordan Fitzgerald’s plan to “bring life to the value that is your business.” Clearly the most exuberant person among the seven for his idea and those of his fellow participants, he described his plan to launch the combination creative agency and design think tank.
  • Fully is the working title of Charlotte Cherry’s idea to help develop travel itineraries crafted to an individual’s taste. She explained that most Americans have taken three trips annually in the past and spent an average of 60 hours planning them. Fully would automate the process and reduce the time that individuals have to spend.
  • GRITS, short for Growing Resilience in the South, was presented by Sade Meeks, a Registered Dietitian. It is a non-profit focused on helping improve the health and well-being of those in a community through nutrition.

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