Seven months after launching her startup, Nomi Smith’s PMI Rate Pro already is integrated with the nation’s six private mortgage insurance providers — saving more than 2,000 hours for loan officers and more than $1 million for homebuyers, she said.
Competing Monday on stage at the Pure Pitch Rally was another critical milestone, Smith told the invite-only crowd at the end of her three-minute pitch.
The invitation-only event brings leading executives and investors together to provide mentorship, networking and funding support to emerging tech companies, and to collaborate on how best we as a community can encourage additional entrepreneurship in our city and our region.
“At the age of 23, I packed up my life in two suitcases, said goodbye to my parents, and came to the United States … for better opportunities and the American dream,” she said. “Me standing in front of you is an honor, and also proof that the American dream is still achievable.”
Eight pitchers — early stage startup founders from a diverse cross-section of Kansas City tech — went to the mound Monday at the fifth annual Pure Pitch Rally, facing a live and livestream audience. Smith and her fellow competitors hoped to take home on-the-spot funding from about 80 investors, each armed with a thousand-dollar check for their founder of choice.
More than $91,000 in cash prizes were awarded — more than double the haul in 2019.
As a Kansas City mortgage loan officer herself, Smith’s dream went beyond making private mortgage insurance more affordable for the millions of Americans working toward home ownership, she said in the final moments of her pitch to the event’s “landshark” investors.
“You’ll also be helping my personal goal: inspiring my daughters here, and also girls worlds away, so they too can achieve their dreams,” the PMI Rate Pro co-founder and CEO said.
And when the results were tallied, Smith walked away with night’s top cash total in straight landshark checks — $24,000 — along with tickets to three additional Pure Pitch Rally bootcamps reserved for all competitors.
How much did the rest of the “bullpen” of pitchers earn?
Overall top prize winner:
Shelley Cooper, SureShow: $20,500 + $5,000 Technology Blueprint Award from Artisan Technology Group
The SureShow platform helps medical offices replace no-show appointments with revenue-generating telehealth visits, with a focus on populations that need greater access to care.
Delvin Higginson, Relay Trade Solutions: $10,000
The collaborative supply chain platform connects shippers, carriers, origins, and destinations for seamless order to delivery, saving up to 50 percent on back-office costs.
Kevin Johansen, AgButler: $9,000 + $3,000 People’s Choice Award funded by Lockton
The gig economy platform serves as a solution to a labor shortage in rural America. AgButler provides on-demand jobs, giving farmers and ranchers access to a high-quality labor force while boosting rural economies.
Tonderai Kambarami, Air Traffic Awareness: $5,000
What started as a class project at the University of Missouri-Kansas City is now a startup providing solutions to enhance situation awareness for general aviation to increase in-flight safety.
Alan Harris, Booth Browser: $5,000
The supply chain mobile app is designed to manage inventory and streamline transactions for vendors at sporting events, concerts and festivals.
Austin Hausmann, NORDEF, a division of AWA Technology: $5,000
AWA’s technology streamlines processes and reduces cost in the automotive fluids industry by removing the need to transport water, minimizing end-use plastic waste, and significantly reducing storage time and shelf-life concerns.
Syed Barizuddin, Plasmonic Diagnostics: $5,000
The startup’s cutting-edge platform technology, P-GRAT, enables faster, easier and less costly diagnoses for diseases such as tuberculosis and SARS-Cov-2 (COVID-19) through advanced single-molecule detection technology.
Arming young tech startups with the resources and know-how to grow forms the foundation of Pure Pitch Rally’s mission, said Karen Fenaroli, lead sponsor and founder of Pure Pitch Rally and CEO of Fenaroli & Associates, a premier talent consultancy.
“Success in the startup community is far from guaranteed, but what I can tell you is that if you get the right team, the right resources, the right founder sizzle, you are far on your way to success,” Fenaroli said Monday.
Among the founders pitching with sizzle: Shelley Cooper, a former finalist in the 2019 OHUB.KC accelerator and most recently a Digital Sandbox KC recipient with her startup, SureShow.
“The Pure Pitch Rally was an unbelievable event that gave me exposure to incredible investors, mind-blowing resources and amazing mentors,” Cooper told Startland News. “With the funding from PPR, SureShow will be able to expand its product development and marketing strategies. It will make a huge difference in moving SureShow’s mission forward. Thank you for such a life changing opportunity!”
Participants in the Pure Pitch Rally already completed one bootcamp in the runup to Monday’s event. The remaining bootcamps include:
- Brand Bootcamp — addressing top marketing challenges to ensure they are telling their brand stories effectively
- Fund Bootcamp — providing guidance in finance, M&A and legal support
- Product Dev Bootcamp — teaching the basics of building a tech stack
The event and bootcamps are made possible by Artisan Technology Group, BKD, C3 Capital, Circle Sideways, Fenaroli & Associates, First Business Bank, Morningstar Communications, Paradise Productions KC, Park University, Polsinelli and Real Media.