Carvd N Stone wins cash prize on ‘Project Pitch It’

Novir and Torilleria Zepeda win mentorship

Project Pitch It Season 5 moguls Jerry Jendusa, JoAnne Sabir, David Gruber and Peggy Ann.

Milwaukee-based media company Carvd N Stone won $10,000 on the latest episode of Project Pitch It on Saturday on WISN-TV Channel 12.

Project Pitch It mogul Jerry Jendusa asked Carvd N Stone founder Nyesha Stone about the company’s revenue model.

“A lot of people assume that because we’re a media company that our main source of income comes from advertisement,” Stone said. “But our main source of income comes from PR and communications.”

Carvd N Stone is a media company that not only produces positive online and print stories, but also crafts press releases, newsletters and other public relations services for local organizations.

Stone, who founded the company in 2019, started the media company with the idea that society has grown tired of negative news.

“My goal with Carvd N Stone is to make positive news a standard in media,” Stone said. “We spread positivity through articles, videos, events and more.”

Project Pitch It mogul JoAnne Sabir said Stone was “on brand” with the momentum that positive news stories have had in traditional media following the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m an absolute fan of your work and your community and it’s been a pleasure to watch your career and your work grow and transform narratives,” Sabir said. “What would be the best form of support to catalyze you to that biggest dream?”

“Honestly, I really need people to just keep sharing our content,” Stone said. “Because of (the pandemic), a lot of people have been looking for positivity. What we’re focusing on this year is brand awareness.”

Moguls awarded Stone with the Project Pitch It $10,000 award.

Milwaukee-based Novir manufacturers portable COVID-19 and infectious disease tests that can be administered by professionals in the workplace. The startup’s tests can produce results in 10 to 15 minutes, said Alexander Kempe, Novir president and founder.

“Early on and still today, testing has been a challenge,” Kempe said. “Lead time issues, capacity constraints, expensive processes out of the lab. The solution is labs on the go.”

Nine months after Kempe founded Novir, the startup has administered more than 20,000 tests throughout the U.S. Novir serves six verticals including schools, manufacturing, retail, pharmacy, travel and leisure, Kempe said.

“We’re approaching $1.5 million in revenue and we’re only getting started,” Kempe said.

“What can anyone do to help states or bureaucracies who seem overwhelmed by (testing), how can you and others in the private sector help?” said Project Pitch It mogul David Gruber.

Kempe says products like Novir are pushing the envelope on the traditional clinical care setting in a way that will promote more coordination between the clinical environment, epidemiologists and public health.

“With more data and more players like ourselves in the marketplace, we will help contribute to changing the care standards,” Kempe said.

Novir received the AmFam award, which includes pairing the entrepreneur with a leader at American Family to support growth in all aspects of the business including marketing, IT, human resources and finance.

Tortilleria Zepeda founders Heidi and Julian Zepeda formed the startup to bring authentic, nixtamalized corn tortillas to southeastern Wisconsin.

“Most corn tortillas on the market today lack flavor,” Heidi Zepeda said. “Aside from not even tasting like corn, the industrialized store-bought corn tortilla does not provide the same nutritional value, durability and flavor.”

Tortilleria Zepeda sources its organic and non-GMO corn for its tortillas from Wisconsin-based farmers. The startup has been able to attract customers based on the flavor, nutritional value and the sturdiness of its tortillas, Heidi Zepeda said.

“Where are you at in your stage with customers and revenue,” Jendusa said. “Tell us a little about your business.”

“We currently are in 9 retail locations and 10 restaurants,” Heidi Zepeda said. “That fluctuates throughout the year. Due to COVID-19, we lost some of our restaurant customers. At one point, we had 30 customers all together.”

“First of all, it’s not good, it’s delicious,” Gruber said of the couple’s tortillas. “How can we help you specifically?”

“Just getting the word out,” Heidi Zepeda said. “Right now, it’s just a husband-and-wife operation. We did hire a part-time employee, but we just need the resources to scale up, get in the Milwaukee and Green Bay markets.”

Tortilleria Zepeda received the Jendusa Lubar Entrepreneurship Center Award, which includes $5,000 as well as workshops, programming, investment guidance and mentoring from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Lubar Entrepreneurship Center.

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

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