Startup teams competing in the Chippewa Valley this week

Six startup teams are competing in the Chippewa Valley this week for cash awards and recognition from the BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation.

The nonprofit angel investment group recently announced the HATCH Regional Finale will be held tomorrow at the Pablo Center at the Confluence in Eau Claire.

This comes after 10 preliminary competitions were held around the state; over 50 entrepreneurs got to pitch for prize money and the chance to advance. Ten of those participants each qualified to pitch again at one of the three HATCH finales, in Eau Claire, Racine and Stevens Point.

Tomorrow’s free pitch event starts at 6 p.m., and is open to the public.

The pitching entrepreneurs are:

*Andrew Niese for Fixity, an app city residents can use to report problems like potholes. Users will see a map with their location pinned, where they can write a short summary of what the issue is and include a photo. They can also send their note to specific departments.

Users can submit the reports anonymously, but they can also create an account with Fixity which allows for email notification when the reported issue is resolved.

According to a blog post, the app can be downloaded and used in any city. If the city has integrated with the system, staff will be alerted automatically. If an issue is reported in a city that doesn’t have Fixity set up yet, the company will contact city staff directly.

Niese is a software engineer who owns a company called Fresh Software, which he started at age 15. According to his Linkedin page, he’s developed six “freeware” applications and four commercial apps, which have been licensed in over 40 countries.

*Jamie and Zach Pappas, for Earthbound Environmental. This startup provides recycling services for organic goods to the restaurant industry and other Eau Claire businesses.

Earthbound has previously been recognized by the city for sustainable business practices. In 2014, the company placed in the top five finalists for Eau Claire Area Economic Development Corporation’s Idea Challenge.

Aside from recycling organics, Earthbound also provides commercial and residential pick up services for garbage and recycling, as well as brush removal.

*Gary Ramsden, for Silvermine Stone Company. This business provides mortarless stone veneer siding for houses.

The inventor of this product, Rich Mickelson, worked in the masonry industry before developing the company’s Stack-N-Tack siding to simplify and replace the process of brick-laying. The Eau Claire-based company manufactures the product for over 100 dealers in the United States and Canada, according to the Silvermine website.

*Josh Shefner, for Blue Mango, a startup which was spun out of student engineering team at UW-Milwaukee. In 2017, Shefner was a part of an eight-student team tasked with designing and building a solar food dehydrator for a rural Jamaican village.

That assignment came from the Blue Mountain Project, a nonprofit located in Jamaica’s Blue Mountains. The nonprofit was seeking technology to dehydrate mangoes, a popular crop for the region. The Blue Mango team designed and built the dehydrator, and also developed a business model and training program, so local residents could learn how to use it.

*Tanya Stoeklen, for Jessie’s Jym, a play experience designed for children with autism and other disabilities. This idea hasn’t seen much support on its GoFundMe page, but the event will provide founders with the chance to make themselves known to investors and fellow startups.

*Zack Arvold, for Self Protection Systems, a method of self-defense based on awareness and preparation. Arvold previously pitched at a HATCH event in Dunn County, where fellow presenter Tanya Stoeklen won the audience favorite award for her company.

On Thursday night, these entrepreneurs will each have five minutes to pitch their idea to a panel of judges and a live audience, with a chance to win $5,000.

All HATCH events are funded by BrightStar with a matching grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

See more event info:

–By Alex Moe