Sherman Park entrepreneur pitches social payment marketplace for bitcoin on ‘Project Pitch It’

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Milwaukee entrepreneur Christopher Perceptions is educating and providing cryptocurrency financial services to minority populations through his startup PerceptForm.

PerceptForm was featured during Saturday’s episode of “Project Pitch It” on WISN-TV Channel 12. Perceptions revealed plans to launch the startup’s new product called PerceptPay, a social payment marketplace that allows users to pay for goods and services with bitcoin.

With PerceptPay, users can also pay for physical goods and services through a mobile point of sale system, said Perception, who grew up in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park and Uptown neighborhoods.

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PerceptForm is also launching a cryptocurrency debit card connected to a bank account backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., as well as a tax service for cryptocurrency.

Perceptions’ goal is to launch these products on Juneteenth (June 19th), which marks the day that Union soldiers reached Galveston, Texas with news of the Civil War’s end and that the enslaved people there were free.

“I’ve always had an interest in art, technology and economics,” Perceptions said. “I’ve seen systematically there are barriers to wealth creation for minorities. The solution lies in blockchain technology, specifically bitcoin.”

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Project Pitch It mogul JoAnne Sabir asked Perceptions to share more about the education component of the business because bitcoin can be hard to understand for the average person.

“We actually are leading with education,” Perceptions said. “Our company has four pillars; finance, education, art and real estate…our platform also has educational videos and curriculum so that people are able to understand ‘What is bitcoin? What is blockchain?’” Perceptions said.

“JoAnne, what are some of your thoughts,” asked mogul Jerry Jendusa.

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“The most pressing point is education because you don’t want folks to be left out on what could be or what is,” Sabir said. “Oftentimes when we think about community or (layman) who do not have an investment consultant, it’s important for there to be education and opportunity to participate. Because you don’t participate in what you don’t know.”

Perceptions was awarded $5,000 and free mentorship programming at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Lubar Entrepreneurship Center.

Viroqua-based entrepreneur Dylan Bruce also pitched his startup SeedLinked during the episode.

SeedLinked is an ag-tech crowdsourced data platform that connects regional plant growers and seed companies to strengthen biodiversity in agro-ecosystems. The startup uses smartphone technology and data analytics to create a tool that anyone can use to track, share and learn about regional seed and variety performance.

“It’s really a true recommendation engine,” Bruce said. “We’re really context specific. That means we’re layering in not only when your frosts are or how much rain you receive, but also your preferences as a grower.”

SeedLinked is gearing up for either an interim fundraise of $1.5 million or a $5 million Series A round of funding, Bruce said. The startup plans to launch a variety of new products in this spring, a process Bruce says will help dictate SeedLink’s future goals.

“It’s entrepreneurs like you that provide us with this level of hope, inspiration and passion,” Jendusa said.

SeedLinked won 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.

New Berlin-based entrepreneur Susan Knutson, founder and CEO of The Naked Baker, pitched her brand of gluten-free baked goods during the episode.

Knutson founded the company in 2016 when she realized how difficult it was for consumers to find gluten-free products that have a good taste.

“We are free of anything artificial,” Knutson said. “We like to say we’re naked of all the bad stuff.”

The Naked Baker reaches consumers through three channels: grocery stores, Amazon and online direct to consumer sales through the startup’s webpage.

“What I do know is this niche area is very crowded,” Sabir said. “I’m just thinking about your current sales to date and how you’re differentiating yourself in the market.”

Knutson says most gluten-free baked goods carry a shelf life of six months to a year and are sold in the middle of the grocery store.

“Our (products) are merchandized in the fresh bakery section of grocery stores,” Knutson said. “When we sell on Amazon, we fulfill directly…so we’re able to control the product going fresh to the consumer.”

The Naked Baker products are manufactured, packaged and frozen within a two hour period before being delivered to the fresh bakery section of grocery stores, Knutson said.

“There’s not really a lot of competition in fresh bakery and that’s where we’ve found our success,” she said.

The Naked Baker is sold in 220 grocery stores and has over $400,000 in revenue.

“Taste testing is so important and during a (pandemic) you can’t do taste testing and she was still able to grow,” Jendusa said.

“And gluten-free, if you’ve mastered something that tastes good, that’s more than half the battle,” Sabir said.

Moguls awarded The Naked Baker a $10,000 cash prize.

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

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