Madison entrepreneur’s travel agency wins $10,000 in ‘Project Pitch It’ season premiere
Three Wisconsin entrepreneurs pitched the ideas behind their businesses to a group of five hit moguls in the season six premiere of Project it.
Otehlia Cassidyfounder of a Madison-based travel agency Otehlia Travels, won the $10,000 Project Pitch It cash prize. She founded the company after realizing that most travel companies used generic itineraries rather than “real experiences that make a difference”.
When planning trips, Cassidy plans experiences through the personal relationships she has cultivated over the years on her own travels.
“These experiences are fun, unique and food-based because food is the heart and soul of a culture,” Cassidy said.
Its trips are for small groups of no more than eight people and based on experiences that allow visitors to really get to know the places they are visiting. She lost 80% of her income during the pandemic but was able to keep afloat thanks to her other business, Madison Eats Food Tours.
“It seems like a good time for that. Of course we had all these restrictions, but the people on the other side were also restricted and hungrier to welcome visitors,” said tycoon David Gruber.
Mogul JoAnne Sabir wondered who the audience for such trips would be and thought this aspect should be made clearer to potential customers.
“I think it costs a lot of people. However, if you are clear about your market, there are people out there ready to go. It just seems like she needs a silver insurgency,” Sabir said.
Gold Coast Candy won the Jendusa/UWM Lubar Entrepreneurship Center $5,000 prize.
Appleton-based entrepreneur Yaw Asare is passionate about bringing a taste of Africa to North America. Sweets from the Côte d’Or offers customers a Ghanaian-style crisp, which was Asare’s favorite childhood snack. The idea behind Gold Coast Candy started after Asare couldn’t find any of his favorite childhood snacks here in the United States. His mother gave him a cookbook from 1978. He tried several of the recipes, which received positive feedback from friends and colleagues.
“If you take a look at the American food landscape, you will notice that it is full of foods from immigrants from Europe, Asia, South America and Central America. Guess what’s missing? Africa,” Asare said.
One of the main characteristics of its brittleness is that it does not stick to consumers’ teeth. In 2019, the company sold 300 bags of brittle through two outlets. Since then, they have expanded their products to 25 locations and an online store. Asare started the business.
“The product is really good, so that’s an incredible starting point,” Sabir said. “But they could benefit from additional support to think through the creative process through to market.”
$1,500 AmFam/We Energies Prize Awarded to Milwaukee Fast radicals.
Paige Peters is the founder and chief engineer of the company. She helped develop a rapid, decentralized wastewater treatment system that can treat water 16 times faster than conventional treatment. The system works in less than 30 minutes.
“Each year, our environmental and public health is threatened as 850 billion gallons of untreated sewage is dumped into lakes and rivers, including Lake Michigan, from overburden and sewer lines. aging during intense thunderstorms,” Peters said.
After the 2010 storms in southeast Wisconsin caused the basement of his co-inventor, Dr. Dan Zitomer’s home to back up, he set out to find a solution to the problem.
Peters joined Marquette University in 2015 to begin initial research and officially founded Rapid Radicals in 2016.
Since its inception, the company has received $1.4 million in non-dilutive grants. In 2019, the company launched its first pilot, running out of a shipping container here in Milwaukee.
“A lot of it for us is about getting people to talk about infrastructure and understanding how we’re all impacted by these issues and we’re also all responsible for the solutions,” Peters said.
The show is newest tycoonGale Klappa said he believes the technology behind Rapid Radicals could be a powerful tool.
“I think they have the technology. If this technology is proven at scale, they have something here that can make a real difference,” Klappa said.
Project Pitch It airs Saturdays at 10:35 p.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m. in Milwaukee and southeast Wisconsin on WISN-TV Channel 12. BizTimes Milwaukee is a Project Pitch It media partner.