Tixora gets $10,000 award on ‘Project Pitch It’

Complete Shaping and POTTY Pearls earn mentorship, training

A Milwaukee County Transit System employee takes a fare during Summerfest using Pre>Fare.

On Saturday evening, three more entrepreneurs competed on a new episode of “Project Pitch It.”

A Milwaukee County Transit System employee takes a fare during Summerfest using Pre>Fare, an early version of Tixora’s app.

Aaron Redlich, chief executive officer and co-founder of Tixora, presented his Milwaukee-based startup, which specializes in creating mobile ticketing technologies for public transit companies. Tixora just launched a new mobile ticketing app that allows the user to plan a trip, see routes and buy a bus ticket on his or her mobile device.

“We are very excited to have launched with the Milwaukee County Transit System right here in Milwaukee,” Redlich said. “Our platform is customizable and we work with companies one-on-one to make sure it fits their needs.”

Redlich demonstrated the route map, ticket purchase system and trip planner to the “Project Pitch It” judges, Milwaukee-area business moguls. He was seeking $12,000 to launch mobile ticketing scanner prototypes to install on several buses.

“…this is truly the future of transit. But moguls, I can’t do it without your help,” he said. “These scanners will help us validate more tickets, enhance security and provide more valuable ridership data to these transit companies.”

The app is free to users, and the transit system pays a monthly subscription fee.

“The whole goal of this app is to decrease barriers to entry for public transit,” Redlich said. “We think it’s an amazing utility that’s undervalued and we just want to get people back on the bus, and this app really helps them.”

“As a child, I rode the bus everywhere,” said Deb Allen, former president and CEO of Nevada Corp. and one of the moguls. “What I like about this app is you’re able to plan your route. I’ve stood on some very cold bus stops for a long time.”

Next, Tyeshia Coopwood, inventor and owner of Milwaukee-based POTTY Pearls, presented her product, a solution to toileting odor.

“One day, I was going to the restroom at work and I was greeted by the most disgusting odor,” Coopwood said. “And I thought to myself: It’s 2016. I can fly in the air, I can send a virtual email, I can FaceTime and Skype, and still, the bathroom still smells like waste.”

She used her chemistry minor and experience with do-it-yourself projects to find a solution, which is a small scented chemical packet that looks like a “pearl” and is added to the toilet before use. The company launched in July and the product is currently sold online and at Milwaukee-area events.

“I love that you experienced a problem and you solved the problem,” said Jim Lindenberg, owner of Lindy Enterprises and another judge.

“I love the fact that she just rolled up her sleeves and relied on her chemistry background and put something like this together,” said Nancy Hernandez, president and founder of ABRAZO Marketing & Communication and a mogul.

Finally, Kathy Conway, founder and CEO of Chicago-based Complete Shaping LLC, presented her patent-pending garments for breast cancer survivors.

“In 2009, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a bilateral mastectomy, the removal of both breasts,” Conway said. “This has left me flat-chested, with an enormous scar across my torso. I also had multiple lymph nodes removed, increasing my risk for lymphedema, which is a swelling of the arm that is lifelong and not curable.”

One precaution that breast cancer survivors need to take to prevent lymphedema is to not wear tight and restrictive clothing, she said. To maintain her pre-surgery appearance, Conway tried numerous pocketed garments with insertable breast prosthetics designed for breast cancer survivors, but couldn’t find any that were comfortable and unrestrictive.

“After eight years of unsuccessfully searching for a comfortable way to wear prosthetics, we decided to take matters into our own hands and Complete Shaping was born,” she said.

The tank tops and swimsuits with built-in, lightweight prosthetics are designed to be comfortable to wear, boost self-esteem and confidence, and contribute to a better quality of life.

“That product is a life difference maker,” said Jerry Jendusa, co-founder of EMTEQ and Stuck Coaching, one of the judges.

Milwaukee attorney David Gruber, another mogul, said: “That struck a nerve. My mom had breast cancer for over 30 years. These are the issues she had.”

In the end, Tixora took home the $10,000 cash prize; POTTY Pearls earned business classes, office space and mentoring from Cardinal Stritch University; and investment advice, mentorship, introductions to local investors and strategy development from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Lubar School of Business and Stuck went to Complete Shaping.

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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