In a surprise announcement Monday, organizers of the Pure Pitch Rally announced the third annual pitch competition would feature the Kansas City pre-teen innovator behind the Storm Sleeper.
Julia Luetje — a Barstow School student from Leawood, who at 10 years old won Frito-Lay’s $250,000 Dreamvention grand prize winner for her noise-reduction invention — joins established entrepreneur Donald Hawkins, founder of the white label, SaaS platform CitySmart, and eight early stage startups Wednesday in the fast-paced, invite-only pitch event during Techweek Kansas City.
Pure Pitch contestants are vying for $30,000 in cash and $500,000 in Amazon AWS Activate credits, as well as $50,000 in tech resources from Full Scale, the high-growth talent development startup helmed by Startup Hustle podcast hosts Matt DeCoursey and Matt Watson. Prizes are awarded by “land sharks,” who each give $1,000 to companies of their choice, but take no equity in exchange.
Startup competitors include:
- Sara Baker, FastDemocracy
- Rhonda Dolan, Üdo
- Brian Kearns, HipHire
- Lauren Lawrence, Stenovate
- Erin Little, Rx Hackers
- Carlanda McKinney, Raaxo
- Kirby Montgomery, TheraWe Connect
- Aubrey Young, Fluence
“For our third year, we have the magic aligned — the land sharks, the funding, the velocity of ideas and our networking mission,” said Karen Fenaroli, founder of Pure Pitch Rally and CEO and founder of talent consultancy Fenaroli & Associates. “Why does the Pure Pitch Rally work in Kansas City? We have a hunger to help others, and this means showing up as mentors, as angel funders and as a community. The pitch works in this great Midwest city because of startup mentor friends like Polsinelli, Circle Sideways, BKD, Amazon and Full Scale.”
Some of the new and returning land sharks include such high-profile funders as Terry Dunn, DD Ranch Ventures; Pam Berneking, chief commercial officer, CommunityAmerica Credit Union; Matt Watson, CEO, Stackify and FullScale.io; Angela Hurt, CEO, Veracity Consulting, Inc.; Scott Hedrick, CEO, Pro Athlete Inc.; Jill Groebl, senior vice president of client services, Intouch Solutions; Ryan Merket, Amazon BD Startups; Lesa Mitchell, managing director, Techstars Kansas City; and Keith Molzer, general partner, Flyover Capital.