Asili Naturals earns $10,000 prize on ‘Project Pitch It’

Canned Water for Kids and Permyt gain in-kind support

The moguls on "Project Pitch It" season three.

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:21 pm

Milwaukee-based natural skincare company Asili Naturals LLC earned the $10,000 cash prize on Saturday’s episode of “Project Pitch It” on WISN-TV Channel 12.

The moguls who review the startups on the Wisconsin entrepreneurship pitch show also awarded the Pitch In Award and the Stritch Pitch Award to both of the other companies presented on the episode: Sussex-based CannedWater4Kids Inc. and Milwaukee-based Permyt LLC. The Stritch Pitch Award includes business classes at Cardinal Stritch University, office space and staff support for 12 months. The Pitch In Award includes a mogul-hosted forum featuring investors and experts in marketing, finance and networking.

Asili Naturals was co-founded by Trenise Watson, who is chief executive officer, and Moe Mukiibi, a chemist. The company works with a local co-packer to make plant-based scrubs, soaps and body butters, which are sold on, at all Outpost Natural Foods stores, and at Beans & Barley.

“Our mission is to provide safe, healthy and affordable skincare products to people around the globe,” Watson said.

Watson told the judges the founders could use the capital to further Asili’s growth.

“Since we started our business, we’ve been doing nothing but using our own personal finances,” she said. “And we’ve come to a point now where we really need some working capital to be able to fulfill our accounts receivables, inventory, things of that nature, to take us to the next level.”

“We know money’s not the only thing,” Mukiibi said. “In fact, money is a small component of growing a business. So what we’re looking for is collective funding with the brain power seated here. If we can get the four of you to work with us, besides the money, you have made our day.”

Peggy Ann, one of the moguls, pointed out the competitive nature of the cosmetics industry.

“To really make it big with a brand, there’s so much competition in this stuff,” she said.

Debbie Allen, another mogul, said it helps that Asili has established a niche at natural food stores.

CannedWater4Kids is a social entrepreneurial charity started 10 years ago by Greg Stromberg, a 47-year veteran of the can industry.

He wanted his cans of water to include a call-to-action. The company’s mission is to raise money for water projects in disadvantaged communities worldwide. It has so far installed water cleaning systems in Kenya and Guatemala, and also ships water to U.S. communities following natural disasters.

“I’ve been very successful in that I’ve had a great career and I wanted to make a difference, so I started this nonprofit for the purpose of ensuring that every child in the world would have access to clean, safe drinking water,” Stromberg said.

CannedWater4Kids has sold more than 3 million cans over the past 10 years, and all of the proceeds go to its mission. Stromberg doesn’t take a salary.

“You know what strikes me is it’s amazing how one person can make a difference. Very compelling,” said David Gruber, another mogul.

“Well we applaud you for the efforts that you’ve done over the past 10 years, and look forward to continuing more in the future,” said Jerry Jendusa, one of the moguls.

Kyle Konieczka, founder of Permyt, brought two actual Wisconsin plumbing permits to his presentation on the show.

“I find it incredible that a $10 billion industry in the U.S. exists on these pieces of paper,” he said. “ is the world’s first shared services, cloud-based platform that automates the process to obtain municipal permits.”

There are about 36,000 local municipalities across the U.S., which collectively process about 100 million permits annually. But Konieczka said it should be as many as 500 million permits.

“The dirty little secret is that no one actually obtains permits,” he said. “Those 36,000 municipalities that I’ve described, on average it takes them five business days to process one of these permits. It takes my platform five seconds.”

With those time savings, municipalities could have their permit employees focus on enforcement instead, Konieczka said.

He’s now working to raise a $150,000 seed round of funding from investors so he can build out a minimum viable product and launch the service with two cities in Milwaukee County.

Peggy Ann said Permyt could have helped her in a crucial way last year.

“I was building a home in Florida. The hurricane came along last year. I didn’t get part of my foundation finished because they didn’t have the permit and my house got hit,” she said.

BizTimes Media is a media partner of “Project Pitch It.”

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