Budding Entrepreneurs Pitch Business Ideas In Chattanooga

By Tim Omarzu
Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The pressure was on in Chattanooga where several entrepreneurs made their pitch at a Pitch Night held by the Company Lab. One very unique product from the evening was a life saving invention called a “CPR Lifewrap”, a plastic sheet that wraps around a person’s torso with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) instructions to guide people with little or no CPR training.

Chattanooga

Feelings took the fore Thursday night, as budding entrepreneurs took turns pitching their business ideas to a crowd in downtown Chattanooga’s Edney Building at a Pitch Night held by the Company Lab (Co.Lab).

Angst over personal finances, the loneliness that stalks many aging baby boomers and grief over the death of a teenage niece were the drivers behind the first trio of five-minute business proposals at the event which draws potential investors and mentors.

“I bring 15 years of struggle to this,” said Noelle Schwantes, whose startup business, Change Your $tory, is meant to help faith-based members of the millennial generation “clear up the faulty beliefs and emotions that keep them financially stuck.”

“I’m a former financial disaster,” said Schwantes, who has a master of education degree in human development and counseling from Vanderbilt University. She said she tried unsuccessfully to turn her finances around by reading such financial gurus as Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman, and finally turned to God in desperation.

“I screamed at him to frickin’ show up and help me — and he did,” said Schwantes, who seeks funding to promote her business through books, social media and, eventually, trained instructors.

Next up was Joy Krause, a baby boomer with experience in the TV industry who wants to create a new, nationally-syndicated series, “Boomers Together,” to help members of her aging generation grapple with loneliness and other emotional struggles that she said leads to a high rate of suicide.

“We don’t talk about stuff, we don’t ask for help, and it’s killing us, literally,” said Krause, who made a film of interviews she did with Chattanooga-area boomers who opened up about their feelings.

Felicia Jackson told of how the suicide of her 16-year-old niece inspired her to create CPR Lifewrap, a plastic sheet that wraps around a person’s torso with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) instructions to guide people with little or no CPR training.

“A life is the most precious thing on earth,” said Jackson.

Her niece, who died the day after her suicide attempt, could have been saved, Jackson said, if someone had performed CPR. But she said most people don’t know how to do CPR; she estimated that 5 million Tennesseans don’t know the emergency procedure.

Those three businesses and undaground, “a community-centric platform that allows users to discover music wherever they are,” were graduates of Co.Lab’s spring “accelerator” program, a 100-day program for entrepreneurs.

Also featured Thursday were two other startups from Gigtank 365, an accelerator meant to take advantage of EPB’s 10-gigabit fiber optic network. They were Collider, which has developed a high-speed industrial 3-D printer, and Docity, a “telehealth” platform that lets patients use their smartphone to connect with healthcare providers.

James Cowan, founder of Docity, asked the audience why it’s so hard to get a doctor’s appointment when “I can order a pizza with an emoji.”

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