Indianapolis (June 29, 2023) – Elevate Ventures, a leader in U.S. venture capital, today announced the 14 winners of its 2023 Elevate Nexus spring pitch competitions, which resulted in $640,000 in investments made in Indiana-based startups.
Each company received a $20,000 or $80,000 investment to propel them as they build high-growth businesses. Representing a wide range of industries and communities, the winning companies also join Elevate’s venture development portfolio.
The three pitch competitions were hosted across the state in Northern, Central and Southern Indiana. Of 57 applicants, 38 companies were chosen to pitch during the spring 2023 competitions.
“The ingenuity and new ideas being pursued across Indiana never cease to amaze me. Elevate Ventures is excited to invest in this class of pitch competition winners and support the growth of their companies,” said Jacob Schpok, a Partner at Elevate Ventures who served as a pitch competition judge.
NORTHERN INDIANA WINNERS
$20,000 Pre-Seed Investment
- GemViz, Warsaw: Medtech company led by CEO Mike Cusick and associated with Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation.
- neli, inc., Fort Wayne: B2C postpartum health company led by Brittany King, Co-Founder/ CEO, and Katie O’Muireagain, Co-Founder/COO.
- Speak2Day, South Bend: B2B English education company led by CEO Xorge Hernandez and associated with the University of Notre Dame.
$80,000 Seed Investment
- MPB Essential Technology, Merrillville: B2B technology and manufacturing company led by Michelle Pearson, Founder and CEO and associated with Purdue University – Northwest and Score 310.
- Rides2U, South Bend: A premium rideshare service company for college communities led by Chad Mastagh, Founder and CEO and associated with the Idea Center at the University of Notre Dame.
CENTRAL INDIANA WINNERS
$20,000 Pre-Seed Investment
- Drive Now App, Terre Haute: B2B driver education company led by CEO Tom Simmons associated with Indiana State University.
- HUMN Capital, West Lafayette: B2B SaaS human resources company led by CEO Angela Goldenstein and associated with Purdue University.
$80,000 Seed Investment
- Contango, West Lafayette: Agriculture supply chain company led by CEO Ben Brame and associated with Purdue University and gener8tor.
- ReproHealth Technologies, Indianapolis: Agtech/Biotech device manufacturing company for cattle led by CEO Jim Donahue and associated with Purdue University.
SOUTHERN INDIANA WINNERS
$20,000 Pre-Seed Investment
- Lead My Care, Ellettsville: Healthcare technology company focused on patient engagement and empowerment led by Founder and CEO Aaron Litherland and associated with Velocities.
- Miller Co Medical Devices, Spencer: Medical device and technology company led by Founder and CEO Morgan Leigh Miller and associated with the University of Southern Indiana and ISBDC.
- Soloist, Bloomington: B2C music technology platform for musicians led by CEO Parker Busick and associated with Indiana University and The Dimension Mill.
$80,000 Seed Investment
- TitleWise, Clarksville: Real estate title B2B technology company led by Founder and CEO Jennifer Mason and associated with Indiana University Southeast.
- Utiliz, Evansville: B2B SaaS platform for water infrastructure company led by CEO Jackson Bolek and associated with the University of Evansville.
All winning companies from regional pitch competitions, including past winners, are eligible to apply to compete for a share of $320,000 during the Elevate Nexus statewide competition, which will take place August 29, 2023, during Rally, a cross-sector innovation conference, in Indianapolis.
Landon Young, Executive Director of Entrepreneurial Programming at Elevate Ventures, says that putting the statewide competition on a larger stage will be beneficial to the competing Indiana startups.
“Hand-selected Nexus winners will connect with influential investors and industry leaders at Rally and vie for crucial support to propel their ventures. Rally will provide these companies with an unprecedented forum for building strategic partnerships, gaining valuable insights, and securing resources so they can scale.
At the statewide competition, pre-seed companies will compete for an additional $40,000, and seed companies will compete for an additional $100,000 investment.
Elevate Nexus is funded by a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and the Indiana 21st Century Research and Technology Fund (21 Fund). Several grant and investment programs managed by Elevate Ventures, including Elevate Nexus, are supported by the 21 Fund under the Indiana Economic Development Corp.
QUOTES FROM WINNERS
“GemViz is excited to have won the Elevate Ventures pitch competition! This award allows us to work with more customers to gain valuable insights and refine our product as we begin building our MVP, enabling us to move more quickly to improve outcomes for more patients.” — Mike Cusick, CEO, GemViz
“We entered the pitch competition to hone our presentation skills and were blown away by the warm welcome and support we received from Elevate. Winning this pitch competition is a massive vote of confidence in our mission of creating a world where postpartum health is viewed as an integral part of overall health and wellness, and where women receive the care and support they need to thrive. This funding will enable us to launch sooner than originally planned.” — Katie O’Muireagain, Co-Founder/COO, neli, inc.
“I am excited to have this early validation and vote of confidence from Elevate Ventures. Speak2Day aims to bring language learning to multiple communities in the area, and this investment will allow us to start that process. This award will help us settle ourselves in the region and create content alongside ELL (English Language Learners) educators for our educational platform.” — Xorge Hernandez, CEO, Speak2Day
“MPB Essential Technology recognizes this award will move us closer to our goal of bringing our God-given vision to production. We are thankful to Elevate for all the continuous educational opportunities and resources they provide. This award also gives MPB encouragement to know that Elevate believes in our product and will lead to other interest.” — Michelle Pearson, Founder/CEO, MPB Essential Technology
“We are excited and honored to win the Elevate pitch competition. This funding will allow us to finish the conversion of our app from a web-based application to an iOS/Android product and will provide us the opportunity to expand our footprint into Purdue University this fall!” — Chad Mastagh, Founder/CEO, Rides2U
“It is incredibly encouraging when others validate and show excitement about your vision and its financial future. Winning this competition has already opened doors within the Elevate Nexus network, which is as valuable as the capital. These pre-seed dollars will allow us to position ourselves for a successful first round of investor capital. This early validation has me very excited about the future of the Drive Now app.” — Tom Simmons, CEO, Drive Now App
“This investment enables us to launch our first customer pilot in July! We’re thankful for this support as we bring our employee retention tool to market, helping businesses solve the $1T problem of backfilling unnecessary attrition. Elevate Ventures has been critical to the launch of our startup. Full steam ahead!” — Angela Goldenstein, Founder, HUMN Capital
“Contango is grateful to Elevate for believing in the mission to help cash market commodity traders make better data-driven trades. Special thanks to Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Eric Steele, for great feedback in the process. Elevate’s investment will accelerate development of machine-learning-based demand estimation, supply chain optimization, and price elasticity models.” — Ben Brame, CEO, Contango
“We would like to thank Elevate Ventures for making a key investment in our company as we improve assisted reproductive technology in human and veterinary medicine. The Elevate Origins program helped us to refine where we were going and, most recently, with assistance from Entrepreneur-in-Residence Kristin Eilenberg, to bring our technology to a wider investor community. Additionally, Elevate has supported us with the GrowthX program to enhance customer acquisition.” — Jim Donahue, CEO, ReproHealth Technologies
“This investment will be instrumental to the success of Lead My Care and gets us one step closer to changing the way patients navigate the complexities of the healthcare system. This allows us the opportunity to start building quickly, as the AI landscape is moving at a rapid pace. Healthcare needs to be disrupted in a positive way, and I believe this initial investment is a catalyst to helping us make that vision a reality.” — Aaron Litherford, Founder/CEO, Lead My Care
“Winning the Nexus pitch competition has not only accelerated our growth timeline, but it has also connected us to a wide range of customers. We are looking forward to the future of Miller Co Medical Devices and seeing our innovative products change the healthcare system and how our most vulnerable patients are cared for.” — Morgan Leigh Miller, Founder/CEO, Miller Co Medical Devices LLC
“As a young founding team, Nexus not only offers us essential capital that’s already being put to use with an expert firm to develop our software, but it also gives us a badge of credibility that shows future investors we mean business. We have found that time and determination can go quite a long way, but so do capital and credibility.” — Parker Busick, Founder, Soloist
“Elevate Ventures has been an important ally by providing Titlewise the critical capital we needed to grow our business. But more importantly, it gave us the validation and momentum we needed to realize our vision of empowering domestic title researchers across the country to become more efficient, effective and globally competitive.” — Jennifer Mason, CEO, Titlewise
“The Elevate Nexus investment gives Utiliz the ability to continue pushing for better management of Indiana water infrastructure through machine learning, all while empowering local communities to make smarter, quicker and safer decisions for their citizens.” — Jackson Bolek, CEO, Utiliz