Oak Creek-based ShockRay Self-Defense LLC
, which makes a combo self-defense tool for law enforcement, was awarded $10,000 on Saturday’s episode of “Project Pitch It” on WISN-TV Channel 12.
The successful Milwaukee-area business moguls who review entrepreneurs’ pitches on the show also awarded the Stritch Pitch Award, which includes business classes, office space, mentorship and staff support from Cardinal Stritch University, to Project: Grind Over Glamour. And the Pitch In Award, which includes a mogul-hosted forum of investors and business experts, went to Stoughton-based Live Undiscovered Music Inc. (LUM).
“As I’m sure all of you are aware, there’s been numerous incidents across this country involving law enforcement’s use of lethal force,” said Lorne Forsyth, president and founder of ShockRay. “As a veteran it’s my natural tendency to want to protect this country and the people in it. As an engineer and a human being, I see these things on the news and I am compelled to ask myself, ‘What can I do to try to help?’”
So Forsyth developed a combination stun gun-pepper spray device law enforcement officers can easily grab instead of their guns. The pepper spray can be used at long range, and the contact stun gun for short range. He said it would be ideal for a crowd control or a fight situation.
ShockRay has tested the product with about 80 prospects nationwide, and it has gotten more than a 70 percent approval rating, Forsyth said. It also retails for far less than competitors’ products.
“I like the fact that you vetted it with other law enforcement officers because what you’re really doing is solving a need that they have,” said Deb Allen, one of the moguls.
Project: Grind Over Glamour helps kids learn grammar through pop culture. In their pitch, founders QuHarrison Terry and Genesis Renji demonstrated the software with the lyrics from a Drake song being used to teach suffixes.
In the video, Renji, who is an Emmy-nominated Milwaukee hip-hop artist, raps the lyrics to “God’s Plan” and then uses the highlighted text to explain how the word “peaceful” uses a suffix.
Less than half of third through eighth grade students in Wisconsin are proficient at reading at their grade level, Renji told the moguls.
“In the age of social media, multimedia and Flash, we’re taking these ‘distractions’ and using them as tools,” he said. “Let’s take these popular memes, these popular songs in pop culture and use them as literary tools to help teach these children how to engage, but then also give them the skills they need to move forward.”
Terry is based in Madison and Renji in Milwaukee. The pair has pitched the product to several school districts in the two cities.
“One thing you said to me which really stands out, which I don’t think you should jump over, using distractions as a tool,” said David Gruber, another mogul. “I think that’s just fantastic because as we’re talking about, everybody learns differently.”
LUM was created by a group of University of Wisconsin-Madison students and alumni seeking to disrupt a fast-growing but antiquated industry: music.
“At 60 percent year-over-year, it’s one of the fastest-growing industries, but companies like Spotify, Pandora and SoundCloud aren’t doing well financially because they focus on the corporate and mainstream music that requires the most expensive licensing and royalty payments,” said Max Fergus, who pitched LUM with Derek Zenger.
LUM is a music streaming and discovery social network that enables emerging artists to connect with young music lovers, Fergus said. Using gamification, the app entices users to review the music and surfaces new artists about which music companies can then gain insights.
“I’m the emerging artist here. How much is this going to cost me? That’s what I want to know,” Allen said.
Fergus said LUM is free for fans and artists. Revenue comes from in-app purchases, live entertainment companies, local radio stations and artist management companies.
“Now we’re actually looking for a small bridge round that’ll allow us to validate our business model in one or two other campuses, like maybe Milwaukee and Ann Arbor,” he said.
BizTimes Media is a media partner of “Project Pitch It.”