Milwaukee startup pawcasso wins top cash prize this week on Project Pitch It

Clint Walters, owner of pawcasso. Image courtesy of Project Pitch It.

A startup that turns your pet’s smudges into a work of art took home the top cash prize on this week’s episode of Project Pitch It.

Milwaukee entrepreneur Clint Walters, owner of pawcasso, won the Peg Ann and David Gruber Project Pitch It Award worth $10,000.

Walters was inspired by his dog Lucky to start the business. Lucky, who passed away two years ago, had left a single smudge on Walters’ car window. After months, Walters decided to clean the smudge off – but not before taking a photo.

“I decided to take a picture of that smudge and that’s how the idea was born,” said Walters in a LinkedIn post.

Once a user sends their photo to pawcasso via the company’s website, it is then turned into a piece of artwork that mimics the style of famous Spanish painter Pablo Picasso.

Artwork from pawcasso owner Clint Walters’ late dog Lucky. Image courtesy of pawcasso.

Milwaukee-based Lolly Lolly Ceramics was this week’s winner of the Jerry Jendusa/UWM Lubar Entrepreneurship Award. Founder Lalese Stamps took home a $5,000 cash prize, as well as support services including investment guidance and mentoring from UW-Milwaukee’s Lubar Entrepreneurship Center and “BreakthruU.”

The small-scale ceramics design and production studio was founded by Stamps in 2017. Lolly Lolly focuses on creating objects that are functional, unique and handmade to last. The company garnered national attention when in 2019, Stamps began a 100-day project that involved her creating 100 mugs with 100 different handles. The demand for Lolly Lolly ceramics is high, according to the company’s website, and Stamps and her team are working on scaling the business.

Lumin-us took home the We Energies/DNA Award, which includes a $1,500 cash prize and at least one session of mentoring in marketing from a company leader. The Milwaukee-based startup, founded by Michael Gilbert, is a nonprofit social platform that will be used to promote positivity, optimism, support and belonging in young adults through storytelling in media and community events.

“Lumin-us will serve as non-clinical ‘social’ therapy to enhance mental wealth in young adults with peer-to-peer social interactions. Lumin-us content will be created by the community, for the community,” according to the company’s website.

The next episode of Project Pitch It airs Saturday at 10:30 p.m. on WISN-TV Channel 12 in Milwaukee. BizTimes Media is a media partner for Project Pitch It.

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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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