Startup SOUP is a novel TechTown pitch competition designed to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses through microfunding. Each finalist will make a business pitch and field questions from the audience. Over a hearty bowl of broth (yes, actual soup), the audience will deliberate then vote for their favorite. The Startup SOUP winner will receive $1,500, courtesy of sponsors Hennessey Capital and Huntington Bank; the door kitty; and five workshop vouchers from TechTown.
The public is invited to attend Startup SOUP; the cost is $5 at the door for soup, salad, bread and a vote. To register, go to www.startupsoup.eventbrite.com.
5:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 3
2051 Rosa Parks Blvd., Detroit
Startup SOUP presenting finalists:
- Marlo Rencher, Good Sweat, Detroit: Good Sweat is an online platform that enables people to raise money and awareness for causes they believe in. The company supports the creation of personal fundraising events, and the solicitation of support and participation from Facebook friends and Twitter followers. It also provides a mechanism by which a user’s friends and family can donate money to the nonprofit organization of their choice. Through Good Sweat, people can inspire others to act and be active in philanthropy.
- Thiago Olson, Protean, Detroit: Protean is a start-up mobile app company. Its product, Echo, is a reprogrammable smart card that mimics cards typically found in a consumer’s wallet. Echo syncs wirelessly with a mobile app that stores an unlimited number of cards and creates a channel for communication between merchants and consumers. By consolidating a consumer’s plastic collection into one card/mobile app, Echo frees consumers from wallet clutter and improves the payment experience. Since Echo holders are more likely to have store cards readily available, merchants pay lower fees on these transactions and capture more customer data. Merchants also benefit from an unprecedented opportunity to communicate directly with consumers while they are shopping via a location-sensitive payment app.
- Jordan Silverman, Star Toilet Paper, Ann Arbor: Star Toilet Paper prints advertisements and coupons on its patented toilet paper, and supplies the product to public venues at no charge by virtue of advertising revenue. Star Toilet Paper’s unique product allows companies to advertise to captive audiences in a cost-efficient manner. The toilet paper gives users readily available reading material and coupons during a time when they would otherwise be indisposed and unproductive.
- Brandon Knight, Rhiza Food Co., Highland Park: Rhiza Food Co. is a four-season, for-profit urban production and teaching farm that emphasizes organic and ecologically-sound production. It currently grows vegetables, fruits and herbs in a 24-by-60-foot passive solar hoop house, a 60-by-80-foot outdoor field, and an eight-tray indoor microgreens production space. Plans for value-added products using "estate-grown" produce are underway with an expected production start date of fall 2012. Products will be sold at Highland Park Farmers Market beginning Aug. 6, and to metro Detroit chefs, caterers and local residents. Short-term plans are to train and hire additional staff and expand production capacity.
Startup SOUP is an entrepreneurial twist on the highly popular Detroit SOUP community fundraising dinner. Detroit SOUP, which has partnered with TechTown to host the event, has achieved local recognition for its ability to raise monies for microgrants to support community projects in Detroit.
To be eligible to pitch at Startup SOUP, nominees must have registered their business with the state (LLC, etc.) and be based in Southeast Michigan. Businesses may or may not have formally launched but must be in the pre-revenue phase. All finalists will receive two business development workshop vouchers from TechTown.
TechTown works to reignite Detroit's entrepreneurial culture by fueling business growth, job creation and the revitalization of Midtown and beyond. Through its partners and programs, the nonprofit business incubator and accelerator connects small businesses to the customers, talent, capital and location necessary to build a thriving enterprise in Southeast Michigan. Its entrepreneurs also gain unique access to research, academic and technology assets through TechTown's partnership with Wayne State University. To learn more about TechTown, visit techtownwsu.org.