Little Food Co. wins cash prize on ‘Project Pitch It’

OnKol and SafeLumin earn mogul forums

The moguls on "Project Pitch It" season three.

Last updated on June 26th, 2019 at 11:56 am

Kaukauna-based Little Food Co. LLC won $10,000 on the latest episode of “Project Pitch It” on Saturday on WISN-TV Channel 12.

“Do you know what’s in baby food?” asked Amanda Santoro, founder of Little Food Co.

The successful Milwaukee-area business moguls who review entrepreneurs’ pitches on the show all responded in the negative.

“Overprocessed ingredients with preservatives, additives and fillers heated to extreme temperatures to create a product that can sit on the shelf for years,” Santoro responded.

A nurse and mother of four, Santoro said she’s been making baby food at home for 25 years. And by the fourth baby, she needed a quick alternative when she was busy with her full-time job.

Founded in 2018, Little Food Co. makes its food from scratch in small batches with locally sourced, organic produce. It is frozen to seal in freshness and flavor, she said. LFC has sold more than 4,000 baby food meals through farmers markets, its website subscription plan and wholesale accounts at four grocery stores.

LFC recently moved from a shared commercial kitchen into its own production facility.

“We’re at a pivotal point in our business and we’re looking to scale up production. We need to hire help. So a $10,000 cash reward would give us the funds to scale up production and distribute our product throughout the state,” Santoro said.

“Are you doing this full-time?” asked David Gruber, founder and chief executive officer of Gruber Law Offices, and one of the moguls.

“Yes, I just left my full-time nursing job and I’m now a full-time entrepreneur,” Santoro said. “I’m very excited about it.”

Santoro received the $10,000 she requested with the Project Pitch It Award from the program. And two other entrepreneurs who pitched in the episode also received prizes: Marc Cayle, founder of Milwaukee-based OnKol, and Chamy Lutz of Oconomowoc-based Safelumin each earned the Pitch In Award, which provides the opportunity for the entrepreneurs to meet investors and experts in marketing, finance and networking at a mogul-hosted forum.

About 400 people turn 65 every hour, Cayle said. He previously spent 10 years as an owner of in-home care agencies, with in-home caregivers going in to people’s homes after they had a catastrophic event in a reactive format.

“The idea would be, ‘Let’s prevent these things from happening to begin with,’” Cayle said. “There was nothing on the market, so I decided to sell everything and do it myself.”

From a glucometer to a refrigerator door sensor, OnKol’s smart hub can be connected to a variety of devices that keep a caregiver and family in the loop on a senior’s health. In-home care agencies and hospitals are OnKol’s primary customers, he said.

“We are in full production, we actually make them right in Pleasant Prairie, and we are actually raising our next round in order to bring on salespeople and get to market as quick as we possibly can,” Cayle said.

OnKol has a $500,000 convertible note and is raising another $3 million, he said.

“How much does a unit like that cost?” asked Jerry Jendusa, founder of STUCK LLC and one of the moguls.

The retail price is $349, Cayle said, which he said is inexpensive.

Lutz, founder of Safelumin, has more than 26 years of experience in manufacturing, sourcing and product design.

In 2017, there were 3,500 power outages affecting 36 million people, according to the Department of Energy, Lutz said. Safelumin is a lighting solution that works with or without power, she said.

“We offer you longevity, safe energy, safety when there’s no power, and at an affordable price,” Lutz said.

The Safelumin lightbulb has a battery backup that lasts up to three hours, and when power is restored the battery recharges itself. Safelumin has four U.S. patents and two China patents. It retails for $19.99, and the lightbulb lasts up to 23 years.

“I’m seeking new capital to help us speed up the sales and marketing and continue to bring the new product to new markets,” she said.

Lutz founded SafeLumin two years ago and worked on research and development at first. Last year, SafeLumin started selling and brought in $5,000. This year, the company is on track for $65,000 in sales, Lutz said.

“I’m going to ask you about manufacturing, OK? Your production time for this?” asked Peggy Ann, owner of Peggy Ann’s LifeMoves and another of the moguls.

“We manufacture overseas but we do have a plan to look around the Wisconsin manufacturers and our headquarters is in Wisconsin and we have no plan to move that,” Lutz said.

“Wow, interesting product,” said Debbie Allen, former president and CEO of Nevada Corp. and a mogul.

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

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Molly Dill
Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.