BHM Ignition Challenge Voting
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Tyler Weston (Marine Corps veteran)
We SAVE LIVES! Our company provides Situational Awareness and Critical Incident Management Training (Active Shooter) as well as detailed site security plans. Our training is like nothing on the market as we train in the classroom AND with live scenarios. With 2021 on pace to have the most mass shooting in U.S. history, everyone needs to be vigilant and aware so they can help SAVE LIVES.
We would use the financial award to buy some more equipment, help with marketing, and buy inventory. We just launched in October 2020 and though I am not personally new to running a business, I am a new veteran business owner. I am looking for any and all help I can get! I know that I cannot do this on my own. I like to network, meet new people, and learn from successful business owners/entrepreneurs. I believe winning this challenge will help to take us to the next level and get us out there even more. We want to help SAVE LIVES. I know I have said it over and over again, but that is our mission. Winning this challenge will get us closer to achieving that!
Sean Grorich (Army veteran)
Our mission is to be sustainable (using earth friendly products) and socially responsible (our Coffee with a Cause Campaign). With our Coffee with a Cause Campaign we donate 12% of our proceeds from our coffee blends to local community charity causes. I just began roasting coffee beans last September in the middle of the pandemic. We mostly wholesale but also sell some retail and online.
Improvement in efficiencies of production with weigh scale machine and improved packaging/labeling along with targeted marketing. These could help us grow to the next level where we could then take on a new employee or two.
Leonard Peterson (Air Force veteran)
Rebound has designed, developed, and manufactured medical accessory parts for use with personal equipment that requires an air hose, or similar attachment, to connect a patient with health supports.
My PDHC (Personal Device Hose Caddy) offers a completely different level of safety and convenience because its primary premise is to grant the user an ability to move freely in their sleep/resting quarters without being limited by a fixed metal, or other encumbering tree type device. This PDHC part also offers a variety of currently fashionable colors for their visual comfort. We offer installation materials that WILL NOT damage any area of a painted wall, or furniture. All facets of this product, including manufacturing, are sourced from American (USA) companies and this primary device is manufactured in the USA only.
I would use up to 1/3 to complete a professional Website, 1/5 to develop introduction videos and the balance in reserve to advertise and service debt.
Benjamin Koberstein (Army veteran)
Red Arrow Crane & Rigging provides training for individuals to acquire a nationally recognized certification to operate different types of cranes. The cranes very from Articulated Cranes to Tower Cranes and everything in between. We also provide certification training for riggers and signalpersons. Once the individuals pass both a written exam and hands on exam they receive their certification from The National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO).
Marketing would be the biggest use. Currently the majority of the sales have come from word of mouth which is not a bad thing but getting the name out more never hurts.
Another use of the funds would be for securing a building to locate all of the testing/training material in one location and hopefully have a large enough space to do some testing/training in house.
Having a mentor to talk through different ideas, problems or situations would be great.
Scott Shirk (Army veteran)
Redleg Custom Woodworks is providing a unique, personalized gift idea for the Field Artillery community. We specialize in handcrafting personalized wooden artillery rounds for service related awards and gifts for retirements, graduations, change of duty stations, and other occasions.
One of my goals with Redleg Custom Woodworks was to let the business grow naturally and not try to push it. We have grown so much already that I would use the award and coaching to learn about marketing material and website design along with updating some smaller equipment.
Percy Duckworth (Army veteran)
Robles & Duckworth is a 24-hour emergency services/janitorial services, which specializes in hoarding and organization. We provide counseling and pastoral care free of charge because we understand the challenges of mental health. We also give back to the community we are involved local and international with human rights. Our company in not just a cleaning company; we change lives by providing services and care for all.
We would use funds to be able to hire more employees and to market our business to take it to the next level.
Jeremy Neuharth (Army veteran)
Sycorr has created identity & access review tools exclusively for banks. We integrate with non-friendly applications that banks use in an operations-friendly way to shrink the effort required to pass required regulatory activities dramatically. A typical mid-sized bank (~3B) spends about eight weeks to complete a reach permission review (entitlement review, access certification); our case studies show we can shrink that effort down to roughly a week.
The top five ways we would use the award include: 1) We would use the fact that we received the award in marketing materials to continue building momentum. 2) We would leverage the award for PR in bank trades and associations to get our story out there. 3) We would use the funds to invest in marketing activities. 4) We would use coaching to expand our network and refine our approach to reaching our potential network. 5) We would use the award to help accelerate partnering with more financial industry application vendors.
Andrew (Cody) Norton (Air Force veteran)
Wing & Wrench is an aviation maintenance technician trade school. Our curriculum goes beyond every other technician school; it is proficiency focused, and is all-inclusive of equipment, tools, books, and testing to ensure student success. There is a two-year waiting list locally for this education, and the airlines are in dire need of local technician sources. Students will get the training they need for a successful career in the aeronautical industry.
We would use funds to secure facilities, use as equity to urge lenders, and take the coaching as an opportunity to fine tune.
Greg Fischer, (Marine Corps veteran)
Burn Pit BBQ provides grilling and barbecuing tips, techniques, and products to aspiring backyard pitmasters. Our products are all natural, gluten free, gmo free, and taste delicious. It's the same products we feed our families. Since starting in August 2020, Burn Pit BBQ has had over 400 online orders and is in eight retail shops in Wisconsin and Illinois.
Burn Pit BBQ is at an exciting crossroads in our young journey. The money would help us expand our inventory needs to meet the demand of our growing customer base. A portion would also be used to increase our marketing efforts to reach new audiences.
Kyle Gernhofer (Navy Veteran)
Because of corporate dentistry's growing presence, more people today than ever before are receiving unnecessary, poor quality and/or less personalized dental care. This costs patients millions of dollars every year in unnecessary out-of-pocket expenses along with physical and emotional suffering. Thousands of corporate dentists participate in TriCare Dental and military family members have no way of knowing which dentists in their plan provide the best overall care. DenScore is a software solution powered by artificial intelligence that helps military family members and everyone else find the most desirable dentists in their dental plan.
The cash prize and coaching would be a game-changer for DenScore! We've validated that enterprise companies are willing to pay for DenScore services and we're getting very close to entering a contract agreement with a few of these companies. Charlie has built one of our insurance products which is an application programming interface (API) and he manages our data science/machine learning needs on a daily basis. However, he is not a software engineer and we need to pay someone to write additional code for the software we intend on offering to our early employer clients and healthcare navigation partners. Eventually, we will bring a full-time software engineer onto the team but we are unable to do this until we raise our pre-seed round and/or generate revenue. We are a very coachable team and we understand there are a lot things we don’t know that we don’t know! We would be humbled and grateful to receive any amount of mentorship from the PenFed mentors!
Aimee Slaughter (Air Force Military Spouse)
Epiphany Care Homes was founded by Aimee and Derek Slaughter as an alternative to traditional large-scale assisted living, memory care and nursing home facilities. We focus on residents with Alzheimer’s/Dementia, seniors with mental health disorders and general ageing related disorders. Our home operates with a philosophy of care that allows aging-in-place, with more intensive services available on-site as needs progress. We take a holistic care approach when partnering with a resident and family, focusing the physical, mental and psychosocial of a resident need; to develop and drive a customized care plan which results in the highest quality of life.
If we received this award, we would use it to open a second facility. We receive calls daily asking if we have openings and we do not. We would like to be able to offer excellent services to other seniors with mental health issues in the community.
Chelsea Andrews (Air Force National Guard)
I am currently a Licensed Family Childcare Provider and am able to serve 8 children and their families. Due to COVID, there is an extreme need for childcare services throughout the country and Brodhead, WI is no exception. I want to expand my childcare center into a group childcare center which could serve approximately 70 children and their families. Getting off the ground has been difficult, but I am determined to open this center to make a difference for the families and children in my community before I am ordered to deploy for the US Air National Guard.
I will be a nature-based childcare center. I believe that children learn best when they are outdoors so they are free to explore and be creative. I am dedicated to high-quality care as I am currently the highest rated YoungStar provider in Brodhead, WI. YoungStar ensures quality within a center and assigns a star rating accordingly. My goal is to become a 5 Star center through a play-based, nature environment where children can thrive.
It would be life changing for my community. I know that my business will be successful but just getting off the ground has been tough. I will be able to use this to invest in high-quality materials for classroom use. This is no small feat as the environment is the children's #1 teacher.
James Zess (Army veteran)
MCHX Technology is a certified VOSB that provides mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) engineering services, and product design services associated with small turbine engines for power production and aviation applications. The Company holds a Certification of Authorization to perform engineering services in the State of Wisconsin. MCHX Technology is subcontracting to a Milwaukee architectural company to provide MEP engineering services for the Milwaukee VA Medical Center Historic Buildings Reuse project for veterans. MCHX Technology also has current and past contracts with aviation companies to design turboprop engine recuperators for unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) and small, high performance planes.
We are in desperate need of engineering software. MCHX Technology would use the funds to secure a network license in SolidWorks to perform CADD, FEA and CFD fluid simulation. MCHX Technology would also obtain a license and training in Autodesk REVIT software for MEP analysis and design optimization.
Kyle Nyseth (Navy veteran)
Navy Paddles offers handcrafted, high quality memorabilia, paddles, plaques, coin boxes, and carriers. Products are made by a retired navy lieutenant from a combination of woods grown in Wisconsin. Serving all branches of the military, fire, and police. Our products are a very unique way to honor and recognize someone’s achievement. It is not just a plaque or card, but it is a way of display that can be presented beautifully. The piece we handcraft is an icon of teamwork.
Our first thing we would do to help grow our business would be hire additional employees for production, social media, and invoicing/QuickBooks. We would also process automation on our website to streamline more orders and business.
Barma Malekebu (Marine Corps veteran)
Next Global Security provides security guards and patrol services for businesses and governments. We’re constantly improving our methods to provide the best cost effective security solutions. Our training methods are rigorous. As a company, we embrace technology to become more efficient at what we do. We provide specific training on defensive tactics, patrol techniques, criminal law, and customer service.
If we won the award, I would use this funding for marketing. Marketing strategies are very important. Improving our website, print advertising, and commercials would increase sales.
Josue Roman, (Army veteran)
Abacrop provides a mobile, digital platform for small farmers to manage operation data, reports, and analyses. In other words, farmers can input and access critical internal information via any internet-connected device, including from out in the field. As we know from first-hand experience, instant access to data empowers farmers to make more informed, quicker, and better decisions. Moreover, Abacrop provides farmers with clearly documented data for compliance with safety and food management regulations. Through comprehensive regulatory compliance, farmers can acquire additional customers and remain competitive in the market.
We intend to introduce a Spanish-language platform — allowing us to expand into to South America. Additionally, we aim to expand platform capability and incorporate data capture via our iOS app.
Rocky Takapu (Air Force veteran), Nate Gilman (NOAA Commissioned Corps), and Hammad Mushtaq
Traditionally, non-developer employees (the majority of most business teams) report technical issues to developers via chats. The chat method, however, is utterly unproductive and infuriating. Often, non-developers and developers end up wasting time in a seemingly-endless back-and-forth in which neither party wholly understands the other. BUGr offers a solution: an in-browser extension that automatically captures softwares’ back-end technical details and shares them with development teams. In turn, development teams receive the exact information they need to quickly solve any software issue. Through BUGr, non-developers can easily report and triage bugs — and developers can have a precise understanding of any issue. Without infuriating chats, teams can go back to focusing on their jobs and prioritizing customers.
In the next three years, we aim to grow our business and integrate it into Microsoft Azure, Atlassian's Jira, or another player in the software project management space — and seek acquisition. To achieve a successful and advantageous acquisition, we anticipate learning from advisors, mentors, and investors.
Finally, we intend to use our funds to implement our GTM strategy. In our strategy, we aim to collaborate with Wise Advise and Assist in the creation of seven regional pitch competitions. Through these competitions, we plan to break into our next beach head market (small to medium sized startups). Additionally, we will increase our marketing and brand recognition.
Edwin Rivera (Marine Corps veteran)
CG1 Solutions provides mixed reality software and content development for enterprise customers. We are launching a subscription-based content library of augment reality (AR)-enabled training instructions for the healthcare industry.
We would use the award towards the development of our public-facing marketplace.
Michael Loyd (Marine Corps veteran)
Dope Coffee is a premium coffee brand that combines great coffee and Hip-Hop culture to create unique products and cultural experiences. Primarily, we operate our business via partnerships and crowdfunding. In Q3, we are poised to expand nationwide with 10 flagship stores. Dope Coffee exists to break down barriers and build community.
Initially, we would use $5k for a lease on a brick-and-mortar retail flagship. Additionally, we would apply $15k to purchase K-Cup supplies. Through a K-Cup channel, we can immediately fulfill several pending office coffee contracts. Dope Coffee is in a growth phase and we need capital to sustain our daily operations.
Candice Dietz (Army military spouse)
Through our B2B cause marketing platform, GIVESPACE empowers the world to come together and give back. GIVESPACE offers businesses a streamlined platform to connect with 1M+ charities and initiate their own give-back campaigns. Additionally, our client’s customers can directly engage with each charity and opt to direct their donations.
With funding, we will hire an additional junior software developer to meet the demands of our growing wait list. With a larger team, we can continue to enter more markets and scale our business.
Nneka Brown (Army veteran)
Innovative Supplies Worldwide is a sustainable stationery manufacturing company. More specifically, we focus on school and office supplies that represent diverse art. Through our company, we hope to introduce education products with new perspectives and, in doing so, change the education industry.
With funding, I would build our first fully functioning manufacturing site. Additionally, I would focus on developing site for our upcoming product lines.
Broderick Neel-Feller (Navy, active duty)
Jammin' Together is a platform that connects local bars and restaurants to local musicians. Within this collaboration, we help artists promote their shows and venues promote their locations.
Often, small, local venues find themselves filtering through cold calls and emails to hire live music — a process which neither guarantees the best band or the best price. On the flip side, local musicians face a high barrier to entry when finding new gigs. Jammin’ Together offers a centralized platform that eliminates this inefficient process and allows fans to support local musicians and institutions.
The award would cover website development and maintenance costs. As for the coaching element, I believe that there is always room for growth by learning from other people's experiences and hearing their perspectives. Recently, when I met with a business coach, I learned that military members struggle to transition from working in the business to on the business. With a coach, I believe I could learn how to make that transition and to look at the business as a whole.
Kelli Mumphrey (Navy military spouse)
At MilkSpace, we are passionate about providing outdoor public space operators and event organizers with a premium, mobile, public-use lactation space. Fundamentally, we aim to solve the all-too-prevalent challenge of outdoor breastfeeding. To achieve our mission, we plan to partner with local governments organizations and other events to enable their female customers to comfortably breastfeed — “No Matter HER Location.”
Finally, MilkSpace strives to spread its social impact initiative, "Match It 4 HER!" Through our initiative, we hope to lessen breastfeeding disparities in communities of color, specifically for black low-income mothers. Specifically, we plan to partner with Community-Based-Organizations (CBO) and for-profit entities to provide access to breastfeeding essentials and breastfeeding resources by way of donations!
If MilkSpace, LLC was blessed to receive the award, the funds would exclusively support the purchase a high-roof van and its modification into a MOBILE MILKSPACE. To convert the van, we plan on implementing internal and external modifications that allow for private, convenient, and sanitary outdoor lactation space. Once converted, we will offer our services to any DFW, B2B, or B2C — this year!
Additionally, the $10,000 will significantly enhance my ability to attract, engage, better serve, and retain my customers. I intend for MilkSpace to become the leader in mobile lactation and to be recognized as such.
A coach is crucial in achieving my mobile MilkSpace goals. As a one-woman-show, the day-to-day responsibilities and distractions can become daunting. Sometimes it is challenging for me to escape from a tunnel vision. I could really benefit from a coach that listens to my complex thoughts, provides me with constructive feedback (even if it hurts ;), and holds me accountable to my goals. I am eager to listen to as much as my coach can offer — whether that’s daily, weekly, or monthly.
Finally, I am fully aware of my strengths and weaknesses. I hope to use this knowledge and my coach’s input to become a better leader and entrepreneur. Although I feel I have been blessed with a clear vision for MilkSpace, as a new business owner, I have both arms opened wide to receive any and all advice. I am ready to listen to and learn about the best business practices to position me for immediate and long-term growth.
Henry Rosario (Army veteran)
Through destination-themed patches, Outpatch makes it easier for socially-conscious travelers to give back to the communities that they. More specifically, the patches highlight local artists and the proceeds go to community non-profits — #givewhereyougo.
At Outpatch, we've reached an inflection point — we've tested and validated our product, but we need external capital to expand our national availability (currently we are in seven US states). The award would allow us to hire an additional employee, pay more local artists, purchase additional product, and, more broadly, expand. At the moment, it costs us about $1,000 to expand into a new state. The award’s size, therefore, determines the extent of our expansion.
Just as valuable and timely, the coaching services would help us navigate this impending growth stage. We're facing a lot of operational and strategic questions and would benefit greatly from seasoned experts that can guide us on the right path.
Scotty Jones (Air Force veteran)
STEAMVision, by Sterile Geeks VR, harnesses augmented reality to increase productivity within hospitals’ Sterile Processing Departments (SPDs). In many ways, SPDs are the heartbeat of every hospital. On a daily basis, SPDs handle thousands of items and, if improperly handed, these items can cause life-threatening infection and costly surgical delays. Through the STEAMVision program, we aim to promote work efficiency, offset issues related to high staff turnover, and accelerate education/training (regardless of skill level).
As a growing company, any funding would go towards development and marketing. More specifically, we would use funding to enhance our website, marketing materials, and create a virtual mock-up of our concept to present to investors.
William Hill (Navy veteran)
Uncharted Territory Solutions aims to provide accessible, widespread health, safety, and emergency education. Our program will offer courses and certifications in CPR, OSHA, and Mental Health First Aid.
I would apply the award to marketing and hiring. In terms of marketing, I hope to increase our content and reach more students. In terms of hiring, I hope to grow our team and offer more classes. As an entrepreneur, I believe that knowledge is power and the more I learn, the better my business will operate. I would cherish a coach and immensely appreciate the value of a coaching-based relationship.
Clarice Williams (Air Force military spouse)
Through W.E.B.S, we want to teach tax, bookkeeping, and notary skills in a cosmetology school-inspired training center — ultimately, giving individuals’ marketable skills and decreasing overall unemployment. In our program, we will provide our students with three employment pathways: interviews with our partner companies, employment in our organization, and guidance through entrepreneurship. Additionally, we will accommodate students through sliding scale fees for services rendered. Within this model, our students will graduate with their own book of business. We plan to generate revenue from tuition, sale of classroom materials, and other career related products.
The award will help us implement a pilot program with a few students and instructor. The award will also pay for written materials, classroom equipment, and community outreach.
Ashley Booker-Knight (Army veteran)
Words Unite Bookstore is a mobile bookstore that showcases independent authors’ published works. Given our unique platform, we can offer customers signed copies of our written material. Through Words Unite Bookstore, we aim to ignite a passion for literature — one book at a time.
With the award, I would take my traveling bookstore to more states and reach more communities. In particular, I would focus on communities that need additional reading material. Finally, I would use the coaching to advance my team, building better relationships, and grow my business.
Margo Jordan (Army military spouse)
Youth Enrichments is an e-learning platform and gaming app that leverages technology, data, and entertainment to prevent violent youth behavior, teen pregnancy, and suicide. Our platform is specifically engineered to increase self-esteem throughout youth populations. Through individual subscriptions, school curriculum, and licensee programs we aim to capture 10% of the e-learning market — and, eventually, achieve acquisition or IPO.
This fund will allow us to both further our research and fully develop our beta platform. Through our platform development, we will empower youth, around the world, to develop their self-esteem and reach their full potential.
As an entrepreneur, I’ve realized that a leader always looks to learn more and to grow. In building my company, I would continue to seek out coaching. I know that as a more effective leader, I can grow my company even faster and more efficiently.
Juan Baret (Air Force veteran)
Since 2013, Baret Sporting Goods has been crafting high-quality, handmade-to-order wooden baseball bats — internationally known as “Baret Bats.” The company, owned and operated by Juan Carlos Baret, is proudly family, veteran, disabled, and minority owned. In addition to bats, Baret offers custom fielding gloves, batting gloves, and unique baseball accessories. Baret also provides glove repairs and bat-making demonstrations. For nearly a decade, Baret has been refining his technique out of his Virginia workshop. Ultimately, Baret aims to lead and support young athletes, local entrepreneurs, and the broader military community.
From our inception, Baret Sporting Goods has been entirely bootstrapped and self-funded — while maintaining little to no debt. More specifically, the Baret family has invested $15K and reinvested $40K of profits (without taking any salary). Although there have been challenges along the way, I deeply believe in our company’s mission — to spread compassion and build community through baseball. Moreover, I am so grateful for our wonderful, diverse, and growing customer base. As our demands rapidly increase, we aim to channel any investment towards increased product strategy, marketing, and operations within 2021 and 2022.