Missed out on Catapult’s 11th Launch Pitch Event? Let’s take a deeper dive into the night…
Christiaan Abbott, the new Associate Director of Catapult, began the night giving history on the event. Over $300,000 has been awarded over the past 5 years.
The Launch participants had already:
- applied online,
- been selected by Judges,
- and had a closed-door Q+A session with the judges.
Judges included Brandy Canceleno from Wells Fargo Bank, Wesley Beck, Chris McArthur owner of Patriot Coffee Roasters and Black and Brew, Brenna Hodach from Truist, and Michael Clanton from CenterState Bank.
Each participant had to pitch for an asset that would directly produce growth in their company.
Up Training Soultions
Richard Young was up first. He co-founded Up Training Solutions with his wife Brooke. Richard was a car salesman for almost 10 years until he decided to leave the business and research how to better train car salesmen. Together Richard and Brooke created the Up App that upgrades and updates the sales training experience for car salesmen. It is the only automotive sales training platform that combines micromodule content and real-time group productivity tracking.
With the grant money, their new content will be pushed to the top of the app and dealers will be able to upload group-specific content. In 3-5 years, goal is to be used by several hundred stores.
Next up, Max Gomez of MK Boba gave his pitch. After traveling over an hour for boba, he began his business to bring boba to Lakeland. He aims to introduce boutique Asian foods to Polk County, mainly by selling boba tea. The milk tea drink originated in Tiawan, but has become wildly popular in the West. He currently has a mobile business that strives to create high-quality boba tea drinks and can be found at 15-18 markets per month.
During his presentation, he highlighted a dip in sales for boba during the winter season because it was too chilly for cold drinks. With the grant, he wants to purchase a teaspresso machine to make hot teas to combat the highlighted problem. He also wants to purchase an automated boba cooker to make fresh boba on the go and finally, a hood vent system.
His long-term goal is to move into a brick and mortar and give back to other startups.
Rhemafi, founded by HB Holmes, is a minority-based entity that provides broadband services. He currently works with the Polk County school district to help more than 1,000 students from Crystal Lake Elementary and Crystal Lake Middle School that qualify to have equal access to internet. He also works with local nonprofits and faith-based institutions for streaming services. If a student in the radius of the station qualifies for free or reduced lunch, the government pays RhemaFi to provide them with free internet.
HB gave his pitch for money to purchase the base station equipment that will start delivering wireless connectivity to a larger radius than it currently does. The City of Lakeland recently installed a fiber and with the addition of the new base station, he will have a larger radius and impact more Polk County Students.
Vegetation Plant Food
Vegetation Plant Food was founded by Rima Schillinger. She transitioned to a whole food plant-based diet in 2016, after she learned of the health risks her family had regarding heart disease and high blood pressure. Rima makes eating healthy convenient for her customers, she offers pick-up times and delivery options.
She pitched for a grant to purchase a food processor that will make her assembly line more efficient. She makes all of their meals from scratch to ensure the highest quality. Her goal is to expand enough to offer overnight shipping, sell wholesale, and eventually launch into a brick and mortar.
Shana Henry founded Muffhens after her oldest son became allergic to 7 out of the 9 top allergens. She originally began her relationship with Catapult during the 9-week Consumer-Packaged Goods program. She decided to take action into her own hands and created safe allergen-friendly and delicious baked goods.
Shana pitched for a tabletop muffin depositor that would help boost muffin production to 12,000 muffins per hour, which is a 4,000% increase of what she is capable of now. She is looking into contracting with Polk County School’s breakfast program to provide her allergen-friendly baked-goods to students with or without allergies. Growing her business will provide 4 immediate jobs in Lakeland; delivery driver, logistics manager, sales accountant, and a full-time baker. Long term she predicts she can provide 30 jobs in Lakeland.
After all 5 participants gave their pitches, judges left to go deliberate. The audience was given time to ask the pitchers questions.
When the judges came back, it was time to reveal the winner of the grant money. The check was presented and had a grand total $50,000 on it with each pitch participant’s name! Each participant left with $10,000 to use for their pitched item. Having all participants win launch grants at Pitch Night is rare and made this night extremely special.
Launch Pitch Night continues to impact small business owners who have the dream of expanding in Lakeland. Past winners such as Krazy Kombucha have moved into Brick-and-Mortar and made their dreams a reality.
We are excited to see the growth that will take place in each of these 5 businesses as they utilize their funding!
Keep an eye out for future launch nights and stay connected by following us on social media or subscribing to our newsletter.
In an effort to learn about Lakeland’s small business scene, the LALtoday asked Christin 15 questions. Read on to find out what she loves about our city + who she thinks the coolest Lakelander is.