The Mill’s 2nd Annual INX pre-qualification pitch event was held on Wednesday, July 25, 2018. Of the 12 pitches that were presented at this event, 5 will be moving on to the INX Pitch Event in Indianapolis, where the winning pitch will receive $100,000 in cash and services. We will be highlighting the 12 pitches at the pre-qualification in Bloomington in a series of blog posts. The following are profiles of pitches from the following companies: The Mad Optimist, VisionApp, RiseFi, Ambition in Motion, BotMaven, Adventure Field Guides, and Plus Time.
The Mad Optimist
The inspiration to create The Mad Optimist came from the founders’ desire of wanting people to have the ability to pick and choose ingredients that go into the products they use on a daily basis. Since it didn’t already exist, they created it!
The Mad Optimist offers personalized body care products such as bar soaps, lip balms, bath soaks, and body sprays to like-minded individuals using their proprietary ecommerce bodycare customizer. Founders Mohammed M. Mahdi, Mohammed A. Mahdi, and Anthony Duncan say that now is the perfect time for their company to exist because both the people’s desire for personalized products and the natural body care industry have been taking off exponentially in recent years. They’re combining the two trends with their 6 years of hands-on expertise.
The vision The Mad Optimist has for their product offering is for the company to be the go-to source for body care products on a national level. The founder’s see a unique opportunity for using their brand to whole is to to reimagine and execute new ways of running a business—one based on employee equality and ownership, integrity, transparency, and constant improvement.
The founders of The Mad Optimist are extremely proud of the quality and craftsmanship of their products. They take pride in that all their body care products are made of, using strict, voluntary, GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices).
The Mad Optimist sees many levels of potential growth for their company. They plan on adding more body care products and designing options; liquid soap and the ability to upload photos to print on the label, for example. The founders plan on offering retail/in-store products, based upon real-time trend data they see coming from their eCommerce customers designing custom products.
To learn more about The Mad Optimist, check out their site here.
A group of researchers from the IU School of Optometry was disappointed that there was no way to study the behavior of large groups of school children in order to discover the reasons for them becoming short-sighted. One afternoon, after returning to the lab from lunch and discussing this problem, they realized they could both get the data they needed and protect the eyes of people using tablets and other smart devices.
VisionApp offers a short-sightedness protecting app to parents and children and the technology, big-data and IP to enterprise partners. Because the technology has finally matured enough for us to be able to address the global problem of short-sightedness, which the World Health Organization has recently started calling “a global pandemic.”
Visionapp’s mission is to become the World’s premier provider of digital eye-care solutions and behavioral big-data for ocular research in order to prevent billions of people from going blind. They have successfully developed a prototype app, using only their own expertise and bootstrapped funds and successfully tested the app in a pilot study in schools backed by the University of Murcia in Spain.
You can find out more about VisionApp here.
RiseFi began not as a company, but as a cause. We wanted to see college grads focused on building prosperous careers rather than paying off student loans, public school teachers and first responders able to retire comfortably, and soldiers healing from the wounds of war free from the shackles of debt.
RiseFi eliminated the conflicts of interest found in most financial institutions and has created a banking experience built around encouraging the growth and prosperity of our customers. They are proud to be one of the first banks incorporated as a Public Benefit, allowing them to offer truly empowering and groundbreaking features.
RiseFi is an educational bank that provides the world’s first debit card that builds your credit score and pays you to be financially fit. They are seeking a partnership with the Department of Defense to offer this platform to service members and veterans.
RiseFi sees a significant impact opportunity in service to veterans and military service members. Military service members experience unique financial challenges and are disproportionately targeted by predatory lenders. These financial stressors contribute to the high rates of suicide and homelessness among service members. RiseFi’s solution helps service members establish strong credit and sound financial habits before leaving basic training, proactively preventing the need for predatory loans and creating a strong foundation for their financial future.
RiseFi is proud of its mission. Everything they do is aimed at creating a world where financial security is the norm and predatory practices are no longer profitable.
You can find out more about RiseFi here.
Ambition In Motion
Garrett Mintz was frustrated that so few of his friends landed careers that they enjoyed and realized that their expectations for their careers before entering them were not even close to what became their reality. Many of them were not engaged in their work and ultimately quit their jobs within the first year. He still watches this cycle still continues for many of them even today.
Garrett saw that not only were employees losing out on opportunities, but that employers of recent college grads were losing money as well by not keeping and retaining employees. Opportunities for students to find mentors and choose a professional career path were also few and far between.
Garrett developed Ambition In Motion as a way to combat this problem. Ambition in Motion offers employers of college students (for internships and full-time positions) the opportunity to find students that have been vetted and fit with their desired criteria. They offer students the opportunity to connect with professionals for mentorship to help them learn about their career paths and build realistic expectations for their careers.
Garrett’s vision for the company is to be the best system for developing and connecting proteges with professional opportunities. Garrett is proud of the team and the technology that Ambition in Motion has developed, and sees great potential for growth serving professionals that are interested in transitioning careers, high school students seeking guidance on what to do after graduation, and junior employees looking to upskill themselves, but not having a clear path to do so.
You can find out more about Ambition in Motion here.
Developed by two IU PhDs, Asaf Beasley and Tom Fennewald, BotMaven is an innovative company targeting one of the biggest and most ubiquitous information distribution systems in the world: Facebook Messenger. With over 1.3 billion users, Facebook Messenger is a powerful way to distribute information quickly and personably.
BotMaven provides a user-friendly way to develop, launch and maintain a bot designed to maximize user engagement. BotMaven allows for easy integration with other content distribution platforms, like RSS Feeds, and allows that content to be distributed via a Push notification.
BotMaven has already garnered much praise, integrating with local news organizations like the Indiana Daily Student, and IU’s Jacobs School of Music. Their interface allows even further customization of the push notifications, and even analytics that allow clients to see how much and how often people are engaging with their content.
You can find out more about BotMaven by visiting their website (and even see their bots in action) here.
Adventure Field Guides
AJ O’Reilly was trying to find a way to make his trips interesting. He wanted to create something for people like himself, who were always willing to explore, but needed the information to all be in one place. He wanted to go on interesting adventures, but noticed that all-too-often, that there wasn’t one central place to plan these trips, and planning trips was time-consuming.
So he created Adventure Field Guides. Adventure Field Guides is a service that allows the user to plan a personalized adventure, providing hiking routes, and even recipes. All of this information is customized through the user interface, utilizing Adventure Field Guides’ database with information aggregated from hikers, backpackers, and other adventurous people and databases.
AJ sees a lot of potential for growth with Adventure Field Guides, seeing applications for seasoned hikers in new cities looking for places to explore, to people daunted by the time required to properly plan out a camping or hiking trek of their own.
You can find out more about Adventure Field Guides here.
Plus Time is a scheduling solution for teachers, students, and parents that allows efficient scheduling and resource management. Scheduling is one of the most time-consuming activities for educators, students and teachers. Even more critical to student success is scheduling time to provide to students who need help, feedback, or assistance.
Plus Time believes that it’s integral to the success of all students, parents, and educators, to be able to focus less on scheduling, and more on the actual education and learning process. Plus Time knows that by providing a solution to a complex problem like school scheduling, it provides a way for students to have access to resources they might not otherwise have, teachers the ability to schedule specialized time to provide these resources to those students, and parents have the ability to easily see and schedule time to meet with their child’s teachers, ensuring that every student gets the attention and resources that they need in order to succeed.
Find out more about Plus Time here.