On Saturday, November 12, 2016, five student groups participated in the first-ever pitch competition held by The Gray Matter Experience. The event took place at The Revival in Hyde Park and gave students a chance to showcase business ideas they had developed through the 9-week Gray Matter Experience program.
Students pitched their businesses to a panel of judges including Maria Guerra Lapacek, Commissioner of the City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection; Jimmy Odom, Senior Vice President of Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Intersect Illinois; Pat E. Perkins, Certified Life Coach and Leadership Strategist; and Rendel Solomon, Principal at Muller & Monroe Asset Management LLC and Founder of One Stock One Future. Judges provided students with feedback and suggestions on how to make their business models more sound and sustainable.
Each student group placed in the competition and won a portion of seed money and the opportunity to develop their businesses through the program during Q1 of 2017. The teams that pitched were:
1st place (winning $5,000): Hire Up, a job platform that will connect teens to job openings at local businesses.
2nd place (winning $4,500): LipLocker, a service that provides customizable lipstick colors as well as DIY lipstick kits, with all-natural ingredients.
3rd place (winning $4,000) Let's Link! a mobile app that connects teens to events and activities in their communities.
4th place (winning $3,500) Prescovered, a web directory that connects startups to collaborate and advertise their products and services.
5th place (winning $3,000) TechPhresh, an organic cold press juice company that uses FarmBot technology to harvest fresh fruit all year round.
Both Hire Up and Lip Locker will be working to develop their businesses through The Gray Matter Experience and are looking to launch into the marketplace by Summer 2017.