COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — It was almost like being in a fishbowl. All eyes were on four local start-up businesses on the evening of Thursday, Nov. 9 as they pitched their inventions in the final round of the city’s BizPitch 2023, which follows a similar format to “Shark Tank.”
“One of the hardest things for entrepreneurs and people starting businesses is access to capital,” said Ben MacMinn, executive director of StartUp Columbus, which has hosted BizPitch every year since its inception.
The winner of the technology pitch category, as well as the People’s Choice Award for the night, was Joseph Hamilton, founder of 4 Second Football. Hamilton’s invention, a specially-engineered football and wristband duo engineered to help quarterbacks time their throws and track progress statistics. Hamilton was awarded $15,000 for his first-place finish and an additional $1,500 from WRBL for being the People’s Choice.
WheelChariot, launched by Georgia Tech graduates Gabriel Jones and Tori Stopford secured second place in the tech category, receiving $5,000. Jones and Stopford’s invention is a review platform specifically focused on the accessibility of local businesses and other communal spaces. It is currently a website with both community and business functions, with the inventors hoping to launch an app in the future.
“Making a space accessible for everyone hurts no one,” Stopford said to judges, when asked why small businesses, especially those struggling to make ends meet, should keep accessibility in mind and make use of WheelChariot’s paid functions.
In the traditional pitch category two local mom’s vied for the $15,000 first-place prize for their inventions aimed towards new mothers. Ultimately, Britnee Wheeler, founder of Rose Maternity Co. won the prize for her brand which specializes in creating supportive and comfortable undergarments for mothers recovering from childbirth.
Wheeler’s competitor for the night was Lindsay deOliveira, who also walked away with $5,000 to support her budding binky business, Soothe Beginnings. The eco-conscious mom is working toward going to market with an eco-friendly, adaptable and customizable pacifier which can be modified to suit the varying and changing needs of many babies.
“I’m just really excited to be here,” said deOliveira before she hit the stage. “This has been such an incredible process and so many members of the community have been a part of getting us here.”
Pitches were judged by a panel of notable community members, including Mitesh Patel of Ram Hotels, Jane McCracken of Corps Team, Columbus Technical College President Martha Todd, Crystal Shahid of Truist and Julio Portillo of Midtown, Inc.
This year’s BizPitch was sponsored by Cloud Notions, ATDC, W.C. Bradley Company and more. WRBL News 3 was the official media sponsor of BizPitch 2023.