A fresh face to the startup stage, Zachary Oshinbanjo left Monday’s Pure Pitch Rally with the most-funded venture of the event — taking home more than a third of the day’s nearly $90,000 in cash prizes.
A U.S. Army veteran, Oshinbanjo pitched “land sharks” on Vetelligence — a tech platform that aims to create a more diverse hiring environment for employers using data and artificial intelligence to build relationships with the military community.
Vetelligence ultimately earned $29,000 from the sharks — investors at Pure Pitch Rally who each donate $1,000 to the pitcher of their choice — and an additional $3,000 as the winner of the People’s Choice Award presented by Lockton. Monday’s in-person gathering was Pure Pitch Rally’s sixth annual competition, which has become one of the startup community’s cornerstone events.
“The funds from Pure Pitch Rally will be a tremendous boost toward developing our minimum viable product and entering business relationships with many of Kansas City’s fine employers,” Oshinbanjo told Startland News. “I think that all the employers who have been seeking a means of employing veterans and coming up short are now aware that a solution is in the works.”
Vetelligence is a new Kansas City company, recently passing the ideation stage and entering the development stage, he said, noting the best piece of advice he heard after pitching: “Don’t let the technical component of the business slow you down from hitting this needed market swiftly.”
“We will be looking to begin building relationships, developing the platform and distinguishing ourselves from existing services,” Oshinbanjo said. “We plan to have a working MVP by spring of 2022 so that’s where our focus will be for the moment.”
In addition to Vetelligence, seven fellow Kansas City tech startups took the Pure Pitch Rally stage Monday, competing for up to $1 million in spot-cash funding and resources. All pitchers, for example, scored one year of office space at Plexpod, along with the checks awarded by sharks.
“You are the most important people in the city today,” said Karen Fenaroli, founder of Pure Pitch Rally, addressing the competitors before the pitches. “You are doing it. We are proud of you, and you are the chosen eight Pure Pitch Rally 2021 pitchers. … You passed our litmus test. … You practiced, practiced and practiced your pitches. You trusted us, and then you trusted each other. … And now we’re here today, as your impact investors, waiting for you. You are the most important part of Pure Pitch Rally.”
How much did the pitchers earn?
Azella, David Roberson: $10,000
Azella is an automated platform built to simplify branding and the digital experience for independent financial advisors and their targeted customer base.
Crib Coaching/Bertelsen Education, Jill Bertelsen: $12,000
Crib Coaching uses artificial intelligence to gamify parental education. Each day, information coupled with a game builds parenting confidence.
MD MatchUp, Bob Waddell: $5,000
MD MatchUp is a dating-app-like solution for patients and providers that works on any health network’s website or app, providing patients a curated list of compatible providers.
SeeInMe, Risa Stein: $10,000, plus Artisan Technology product development prize
SeeInMe enables family members to share a personality profile for loved ones to ensure they receive truly person-centered care.
Tenfold Security, Jon Broek: $4,000
Tenfold Security addresses the growing cybersecurity personnel deficit and closes the knowledge gap by offering automated cloud security services and software.
Veeper, Jordan Williams: $4,000
Veeper is a Shopify app that tracks each customers’ shopping habits to apply the optimum discount that gets them to buy more.
Venboo, Juaquan Herron and Rodney McDuffie: $11,000
Venboo strives to help small businesses easily locate and book events that match their needs, in addition to tracking event-related expenses.
The startups’ selection to the 2021 Pure Pitch Rally opens the door to opportunities before, during and after the event, Fenaroli said previously. In addition to pitching and networking with local executives, community leaders and investors, founders also are invited to participate in four bootcamps that aim to help them build a firm foundation for their business.
The Pure Pitch Rally is supported by presenting sponsors the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, BKD, Circle Sideways, Fenaroli & Associates, nbkc bank, Park University and Polsinelli. Other backers include Artisan Technology Group, EVB Designs, Lockton, Morningstar Communications, Plexpod and Worcester Investments.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.