Start-ups focused on foster children, home goods made from recycled materials top latest “Pitch for Good”

A start-up focused on bringing more dignity to foster children and another than is creating “beautiful home goods out of 100 percent recycled materials” captured first place in their respective categories in yesterday’s “Pitch for Good” event.

Organized and hosted by the Nashville Entrepreneur Center (NEC) with support from Dell for Entrepreneurs, Thursday’s edition of the series was focused on Nashville-based Founders. And, like all of the previous “Pitch for Good” events, there were three competitors in each of two categories – “Launch,” defined as revenues no more than $25,000, and “Up and Running” for those who have achieved a threshold of at least $25,000 in revenue.

  • Cara Finger captured the top prize – $4,000 in Dell products and a $2,000 financial grant from the NEC – in the “Launch” category for My Bag My Story. Explaining that most foster children show-up at a new foster home with their belongings in a plastic trash bag, Finger has designed and is producing durable, washable duffel bags and backpacks. The company sells them to individuals and provides one free to a foster child for every commercial sale it makes. “No child deserves to carry a trash bag,” she told the judges.
  • Joel Griffin captured the top prize – $6,000 in Dell products and a $2,000 financial grant from the NEC – in the “Up and Running” category for Newly. In his one-minute elevator pitch, he explained that the company has diverted 37,000 water bottles from landfills to produce products and was the first company in Tennessee certified as a B Corp.

The “Crowd Favorite Award” and a credit for an NEC program went to Olivia Busk who pitched EndoShunt. As she described it, the medical device would address preventable deaths that occur when trauma surgeons do not have sufficient time to reroute blood to avoid hemorrhaging before a patient dies from injuries such as those sustained in a car accident.

Other participants were:

  • Angie Allen with CollegeLeaps in the “Launch” category. She is a schoolteacher who co-founded the company as a way to, as Allen said, “breakdown the access and equity basis in the college admissions” process.
  • Vickie Harris with Community ConneXor, a closed loop referral network to help agencies serving individuals that might have multiple vulnerabilities. She described it as a “hub and spoke model, tech-based workflow toolkit.” Harris pitched in the “Up and Running” category.
  • Lance Villio of Think Native, another competitor in the “Up and Running” category. He described how he and his wife searched for individuals with whom they could network after she was diagnosed with cancer. Think Native has expanded to connecting those who are being released from prison or are addicted to individuals who can serve as mentors.

The winners (so designated), four judges (top row and far left on second row), and NEC staff (Brynn Plummer and Jeremy Raley on second row) are captured in this photo. Finger and Griffin are pictured on row three while Busk is on the fourth row.


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