A ride-share application that helps those dealing with dementia get back into the community was the winner of this week’s top prize on Project Pitch It.
Dr. Bashir Easter, founder of Melanin Minded LLC, took home this week’s Peg Ann and David Gruber Project Pitch It Award worth $10,000.
Melanin Minded was specifically designed to accommodate those with dementia, but anyone in the community looking for a ride is able to access the company’s drivers.
The drivers available through the app are all educated regarding the various symptoms of dementia.
Easter was inspired to start his business after seeing his own mother deal with dementia. The condition impacted her quality of life and prevented her from doing everyday tasks like driving.
“I understood she was not the only one impacted, even though African Americans and Latinos are the hardest hit by the disease. They [people impacted] still wanted to get out and have a good time,” said Easter.
He hopes to use his prize money to help scale his business and hire more drivers.
The Virtual Foundry was this week’s winner of the Jerry Jendusa/UWM Lubar Entrepreneurship Award. Founder Brad Woods 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 Virtual Foundry makes Filament, which turns plastic 3D printers into metal 3D printers. Woods explained his technique is the least expensive way for people to get into 3D-printing metal.
“[We can make] any material that is on the periodic table, in fact to the point where we’ve made custom materials for NASA’s jet propulsion lab,” said Woods. “It isn’t just metal. It actually works with ceramics, glass… we’ve even created simulants of Uranium.”
The company has experienced 30% year-over-year growth since 2019, when Woods was granted his patent. He hopes to expand the company’s sales and marketing efforts.
The final participants in week two of Project Pitch It were Camilla Adelman and Jaime Levine, founders of LYNKS, LLC. The duo 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.
Adelman and Levine are self-described homebodies who have created a product ideal for relaxation. Their chunky knit blankets are a modern version of the blankets their grandmothers created for them in the past.
LYNKS blankets can be customized by color and pattern and the company has also recently expanded to offer pillows. Customers have the option of purchasing detachable, reversible accessories for their LYNKS products. The duo hopes to grow their workforce to help scale the business.
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.