Griffin & Gargoyle immersive fantasy experience wins Project Pitch It $10,000 prize

Griffin and Gargoyle founder Daniel Colwell appeared on Project Pitch It this week.

Griffin & Gargoyle founder Daniel Colwell wants to offer customers a new model of immersive fantasy entertainment. Colwell took home the $10,000 Project Pitch It cash award during this week’s episode.

The exterior rendering of the Griffin & Gargoyle courtyard.

Griffin & Gargoyle will be a 350-seat tavern in Lake Geneva where lovers of fantasy can gather and play out different scenarios. All staff and servers at the establishment will also be actors playing some sort of fantasy character. The idea behind the company is to give customers an immersive and meaningful interaction.

“Geek culture, once a fringe market has blossomed into a fully-fledged economic powerhouse,” Colwell said.

Other areas within Griffin & Gargoyle will include a “Curated Curiosities” wizard antiquity shop, a steampunk-themed molecular mixology bar called “The Gnome Alchemist”, and a space dedicated to axe throwing in the basement.

Colwell aims to open Griffin & Gargoyle in the spring of 2024, which is the anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons being created in Lake Geneva. He will use his funding to continue finalizing architecture and construction plans.

Colwell is no stranger to large-scale construction projects. In 2016 he took the Geneva Theater in downtown Lake Geneva through a $2.3 million renovation and in 2018 he joined Emagine Entertainment, taking the Emagine Geneva Lakes theater through its $5 million renovation.

Griffin and Gargoyle would be located near land Colwell was gifted next to the Emagine Geneva Lakes theater at 2565 State Highway 120.

Nishant Deshpande, co-founder and CEO of Milwaukee-based Investii, took home the AmFam/We Energies Award which includes $1,500 in cash and mentoring from a We Energies leader to support all aspects of the business, including marketing, IT, human resources, and finance. The startup has also received past support through the gener8tor accelerator.

Investii, Inc. developed a cloud-based software platform that helps people visualize all of their finances in one place, shift funds across multiple accounts and earn rewards points for moving money into savings vehicles.

The startup targets young professionals and college students who are just learning to manage their own finances and who know they should save but aren’t sure how much or how often. The idea for the platform was born when Deshpande, who described himself as a pretty frugal guy with a fair amount of savings, was rejected after applying for a credit card as a college student.

“That moment led me to ask, what if we could evaluate someone’s risk based on their saving behavior instead of solely on their history of debt?” Deshpande said.

Moving forward, the company will start evaluating alternative data to help lenders make better decisions. Deshpande said Investii is also seeking strategic partnerships with banks.

Jit and Sukhi Sukhvider, founders of the app Unyutus, took home the Jendusa/UWM Lubar Entrepreneurship Award. They’ll have access to workshops, programming and support services including investment guidance and mentoring from UW-Milwaukee’s Lubar Entrepreneurship Center plus $5,000

Unytus is an “edutainment” app that provides students with a gaming experience that talks about diversity and inclusion.

The Brookfield couple first moved to the United States six years ago. While they felt welcomed by adults, they were troubled by the fact that their children were not accepted as easily by classmates.

“The key thing is that the kids should get a feeling that the content in the classroom has a representation of them,” said Jit Sukhvider.

The app has received funding from the Milwaukee Tech Hub Coalition and is seeking more help from the Department of Education’s innovation program. The couple is looking for as many investors as possible to continue creating content for the app, which is geared toward second grade students.

Right now, Unyutus has content that teaches students about five different countries. The app provides stories as told by four different characters. Each story told by one of the characters incorporates the culture of whatever country they are visiting.

Ashley covers startups, technology and manufacturing for BizTimes. She was previously the managing editor of the News Graphic and Washington County Daily News. In past reporting roles, covering education at The Waukesha Freeman, she received several WNA awards. She is a UWM graduate. In her free time, Ashley enjoys watching independent films, tackling a new recipe in the kitchen and reading a good book.

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