The Fitting Room by Sizeologic sweeps pitch competition

May 14—TRAVERSE CITY — An innovative idea for online shopping proved to be a good fit times two for a Michigan Technological University fifth-year senior.

Jordan Craven won the $1,500 top prize and a glass trophy for the university from the judges as well as $500 in voting by the audience, sweeping TCNewTech's University Pitch Showdown at the City Opera House Tuesday night. The two victories meant a $2,000 cash award for The Fitting Room by Sizeologic.

Jordan Craven delivered the winning pitch presentation during Northern Michigan Startup Week. It's the second straight year for the University Pitch Showdown, which features college teams vying for money, mentorship and feedback for their innovative ideas.

"I'm extremely grateful," Craven said Thursday afternoon. "It was an amazing opportunity, not only to have Michigan Tech sponsor me, but just to be there competing. It was such a blessing.

"The other businesses that pitched were amazing."

The Fitting Room by Sizeologic is "a virtual 3D application designed to help online shoppers try on clothes before making a purchase," according to a release from TCNewTech, which hosted the event.

"The platform provides an immersive experience where shoppers can see how clothes fit and move on their own bodies, eliminating the need for shipping and returns while reducing the environmental impact of online shopping," the release added.

Even though Craven won both titles, TCNewTech Event, Sales and Marking Director Christopher Nesbit said the innovative ideas presented were strong.

"On behalf of TCNewTech and NMSW, I want to congratulate Michigan Technological University's The Fitting Room by Sizeologic for capturing both the coveted 1st place prize and the Audience Choice award," Nesbit said in an email. "Their virtual fitting room solution revolutionizes online shopping, addressing critical challenges faced by consumers, and was well presented.

"We extend our deepest appreciation to the audience, sponsors, and volunteers whose support made this event possible. Most importantly, we applaud all the participating teams for their hard work, dedication, and entrepreneurial spirit. Together, we are fostering a vibrant ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship."

Uniservices from Michigan State University finished second and one of two teams from Central Michigan University, Rasegan Outdoor Company LLC, claimed third place.

Hemkesh Agrawal made the pitch for Uniservices, which is "a platform designed to help university students earn money while helping their local communities complete daily tasks," according to a release. Uniservices "aims to create a more sustainable and efficient local community where students can earn money through completing tasks such as grocery shopping or dog-walking."

Robert Rasegan made the pitch for Rasegan Outdoor Company LLC. The startup is aimed at hunters and its first product is the Meat Blanket, which "assists in keeping deer cold from the hunt to the processor," according to a release.

Also making a presentation at the University Pitch Showdown was MapScratched from the CMU team of Carolina Hernandez Ruiz, James Hernandez Ruiz and Jesus Enrique Esquival. MapScratched is "a social platform that provides travel enthusiasts with the opportunity to share their experiences and connect with other like-minded globetrotters" featuring a digital map, a travel blog and photo storage, according to a release.

Community Champions

20Fathoms hosted the Startup Expo & Community Celebration at Bonobo Winery on Wednesday night.

Six individuals with received Community Champion awards at the event for making "a particularly meaningful impact on the region's startup and entrepreneurship community," according to a release. The award winners were Jennifer Berigan, Jamie Gleason, Chuck Meek, Jason Slade, Eamon Smith and Jody Trietch.

Chapter launches

About 20 people attended the the launch of Startup Grind TC at Horizon Books Wednesday morning. Founded in 2010 in Silicon Valley, Startup Grind is "a global community for entrepreneurs," according to the organization's website.

"We're bringing a local chapter here to create access to more resources for startups an entrepreneurs," said Jennifer Szunko, co-director of the TC chapter with Sarahbeth Ramsey. "There was great energy. It was a mixture of entrepreneurs and people with the resources to help entrepreneurs."

Szunko said the plans are for Startup Grind TC to meet about every other month at different locations. She said the local organization will interact with the handful of other chapters in the state and attend the global conference in April.

Szunko said the debut meeting of Startup Grind TC included entrepreneurs at different stages of development.

"We had a great discussion," Szunko said. "We even came up with a new idea for an online platform that the group participants might work together to develop."

Startup Crawl

Two different buses shuttled participants on a Startup Crawl Wednesday afternoon.

Sponsored by the Michigan Founders Fund, the tour began at 20Fathoms and also featured stops at Hybrid Robotics, Promethient and Atlas Space Operations.

Spartan Innovations Program Manager and TCNewTech Board Member Bradley Matson, who coordinated the second Northern Michigan Startup Week, said originally one bus was going to shuttle participants between the four locations.

"We had to add a second bus because there was such demand," Matson said. "It was a great group."

Matson said several CMU students were part of the Startup Crawl as well as several investors like Red Cedar Ventures, the investment arm of Spartan Innovations, Michigan Rise and the Michigan Founders Fund.

Seeding Startups

Founders, investors and those interested in early-stage investing attended a wine tasting and panel discussion called Seeding Startups Tuesday at Trattoria Stella. Access to capital and other educational opportunities were part of the discussion.

"That was great," Matson said. "We had four different panelists there."