Pitch & Re-Play

badgerstartup-pitchreplayThe MERLIN Pitch & rePlay Returns

Applications Open in June and will close August 10.

Musical chairs for entrepreneurs … but the music doesn’t stop and no one is cut out of the process.  20 tables, 20 entrepreneurs.

The Pitch & rePlay has proven to be an extremely successful event, as several local startups have used this forum for their initial pitch to the startup community.

The intent of the pitch and re-play is to give entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their idea in a non-competitive environment and get immediate feedback on their idea from multiple people. The competitive environment of most pitch events limits the feedback to a few questions from the judges and focuses almost solely on the “winners”. We want all participants to get the chance to perfect their pitch and get helpful feedback on that pitch. Participants range from individuals who have been thinking about something, to actual companies preparing to go into the investor arena for funding.

Prospective participants must apply as seating is limited. Although having an existing entity (for profit or not for profit) is not a requirement, those who apply should have thought through the problem they are addressing, their solution, how they intend to build a sustainable business and how their skills and experience rise to the task of executing the project

Specifically a good pitch should cover:

  • who you are
  • what problem you are addressing
  • how you intend to solve it and
  • how you will sustain your vision.

The format is simple. You start at an initially assigned table (you’ll get the table number when you check in for the Summit). You have 15  minutes at the table, 7 minutes to pitch, 7 minutes for feedback, 1 minute to move to the next table. If things go well, you should be able to deliver 5-6 pitches to a very diverse, helpful audience.

This will be a very full, very active event.  Those pitching must be prepared to speak above the din. A Powerpoint is useful, but not necessary (you must provide your own laptop).  Only one person may present, but you can have additional team members with you (separate registration required).

Summit attendees are your audience.  As part of MERLIN’s hosting this event there will be a MERLIN mentor at each table.  That said, all Summit attendees are welcome and encouraged to take a seat at a table actively react to the pitches with questions and constructive comments.  This event is both very informative and enjoyable.

Watch this space: Applications form will be available in June.  Any applications received Aug 11 or later are on a standby basis.  You will be notified of your place on the list. If you have questions contact Chief Pitch Wrangler, Dennis Barnum

Applicants selected to present must check in on the day of the Summit not later than Noon at the registration desk.  Any presenter not checked in by the deadline will lose his/her presentation slot and a standby applicant will be substituted.

Thanks to the 20 entrepreneurs who pitched at last year’s Summit

Scroll down for names and summaries

The 2019 Summit is August 22, 2019

Registration not yet open

$45 Early Bird (closes June 30)
$75 Advance Registration (closes August 10)
$100 at the the door

Find it

Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery
The Hector Deluca Forum
330 North Orchard Street
Madison, WI 53715


Follow us on Twitter for updates, announcements, and “LIVE” event tweets!


Matthew Noakes, Founder,  Fantasy Down, Inc.

Fantasy Down 1.0
Software that provides the user with unbiased data driven tools to get the leading edge. When none could be found, I created my own and after 7 years in development finally released the third iteration of FantasyDown.  Fantasy Down is not just a UI linked with a third party data provider but has our own intellectual property that filters data using our own MongoDB database. We currently have RESTful API access for developers interested in developing on top of the Fantasy Down Platform. For the less technical people out there, this means other Sports Websites/Developers will be able to incorporate our software into their sites within minutes. Pretty cool, right?

Fantasy Down 2.0
Since launching 1.0 in the fall of last year, I was the exchange administrator of a top cryptocurrency hedge fund that specialized in Initial Coin Offerings. While managing the exchanges, I learned the true power behind the application of cryptocurrency and how Ethereum Smart Contracts can be applied to a service or an event. I took this knowledge and applied to Fantasy Down 2.0 and we have created a personalized betting experience not currently found anywhere. Take a quick look below on what happens under the hood at Fantasy Down when a bet is placed and how the money is transferred.

Matthew Smith,  Founder and CEO, Feelings At Work

We are building feedback software for the workplace. The purpose of the software is not to boost performance but instead to strengthen relationships. Specifically, we are guiding users through a formulaic process of giving feelings-based feedback to their colleagues. Our mission is to strengthen connections in the workplace. Our go-to-market strategy is to build a Slack integration. We are currently user-testing version 2 of our prototype. Our business model will be freemium. Our first revenue stream will be charging enterprise customers for insights into individual employees, individual relationships and team dynamics.

Jefferson Stanley, President and CEO, Liquid Gigs

Liquid Gigs is an early stage company developing cutting edge web based technology solutions for the staffing industry. Its proprietary cloud based human resource management tools will help automate employee recruiting, onboarding, matching, and placement processes. The Company’s core focus is liquid employment markets such as home health care staffing which are often characterized by higher turnover, hourly wages, fluctuating employee supply/demand, and shorter term placements. Liquid Gigs goal is to vastly reduce staffing costs and help Companies improve service quality by introducing greater automation into their recruiting and placement processes

Dominic DeSano, Co-Founder,  Domeloz Honey Spirit

Domeloz produces premium spirits distilled from 100% honey. Domeloz is the only domestic brand dedicated solely to 100% honey-based products, ensuring no grain additions and the highest quality spirits. Domeloz practices social and environmental responsibility in its sourcing of hone and production, generating a restorative solution to the world bee/pollinator crisis. We have two main products: one is a clear honey spirit and the other is a bourbon barrel rested spirit.

Bobby Nourani, Developer and Physician, Syringe Adapter

Syringe Adaptor provides an ergonomic device to alleviate medical provider wrist and hand strain when using syringes for injections. The nature of repetitive syringe injections across multiple fields of medicine consistently puts providers at risk for occupational ergonomic injuries. Syringe Adaptor’s increased surface area spreads the resistance from two fingers to the whole hand, and the unique angles decrease overall strain by allowing for ergonomic adaption for hand positioning during injections. Syringe Adaptor also allows for thinner needles to be used with injections, thereby improving patient comfort and decreasing pain. Syringe Adaptor has been proven to decrease hand fatigue and strain among medical providers, which can lead to prolonged practice and increased productivity. The company was founded by Dr. Bobby Nourani and six biomedical engineering students. At this time we are seeking manufacturing options, FDA approval, and corporation infrastructure startup.

Bill Shager, Co-Founder, iMETx

iMETx provides personalized dynamic physical activity plans that are superior to general activity guidelines doctors recommend. These guidelines are not the most effective because no two individuals are metabolically exactly the same. With physical activity lifestyle changes, over 80% of the most common and costly health conditions could be prevented, significantly reducing healthcare costs. iMETx has a proprietary energy assessment tool that determines the energetic capability of an individual. iMETx combines this never-before-known patient understanding with heart rate, life habits and living environment data collected from the patient’s wearable and makes individualized physical activity recommendations to achieve doctor-determined clinical outcomes. Breast cancer patients have shown improved quality of life, reduced risk of disease recurrence and co-morbidities, projecting to lower patient lifetime health care system costs using iMETx Therapy. iMETx delivered 93% patient compliance with the recommended physical activities and realized a 20% energy improvement in only 12 weeks. iMETx initially will focus on the breast cancer patients who are motivated by mitigating the negative effects of treatment, reducing risk of recurrence and the desire to have increased control over their disease outcome and future health outlook. iMETx will swiftly expand to type II diabetes and other metabolic disease markets, leveraging extensive research showing positive impact.

Olivia Wisden, Founder and CEO, Underbelly

UnderBelly aims to help travelers easily find the hidden gems in a new city, and most excitingly, find the hidden gems that speak to them. Our goal is to have a curated list of recommendations that fit under the category of hyper local, interesting and doing good. We believe that not all recommendations should be created equal; the best bar for one is not the best for all. We want to develop an app that learns your preferences and can better recommend you where to eat, drink and be merry.

We are in the very early stages of building our platform and are excited to be having Madison be our beta city

Patricia Woodridge, Co-Founder, GrowthChart Records, Inc. and Owner/Director of Mariposa Learning Center, Inc.

GrowthChart provides hands-free documentation to child care centers, such as preschools, daycares and in-home providers. GrowthChart’s voice assistant technology enables child care providers to focus on the classroom, save time & money, and improve documentation accuracy while increasing revenue by achieving accreditation. Child care providers use GrowthChart to capture documentation to send Daily Sheets to parents and to prepare assessment reports for rating agencies and accreditation programs. Since January of 2018, we’ve signed 20 paying customers to a monthly subscription in addition to our 2 pilot sites. Collectively, our 20 customers are logging more than 2,000 observations a week for over 209 students. GrowthChart is a Delaware C Corp and QNBV certified in the State of Wisconsin.

Max Fergus, CEO, Live Undiscovered Music (LÜM)

LÜM is a music streaming platform that is built on a social network application enabling emerging artists to circulate their music and grow their fan base. The LÜM social network focuses exclusively on emerging artists and gamifies music discovery by increasing fan-to-fan and fan-to-artist engagement. Artists upload their content and engage with fans on LÜM’s platform. Fans discover artists and circulate music by sharing, ranking, and engaging with their friends and local communities. LÜM will become a digital “Talent Pool” for live entertainment around the world. LÜM incorporated in February 2018 as Live Undiscovered Music, has raised $250K and launches the LÜM iOS platform August 17th.

Quigley Malcolm  CEO, Roll for Guild

Roll For Guild is a platform focused on cultivating the community around tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons. The community around tabletop role-playing games has been growing steadily for the past few years. We even see it more often in pop culture such as in shows like Community, The Big Bang Theory, and Stranger things. However, despite the hobby having growing interest, it remains incredibly difficult to get into. This is because it has remained incredibly difficult to find people to play within your local area. Roll For Guild is addressing this by focusing on search tools, enabling people to create, find, and manage groups in their local area. Thus far we’ve had an incredible amount of success. We officially launched our group search service in March of 2018, and for May 2018 we totaled 2.5k searches. Give our growth rate, our planned platform enhancements, and a new marketing campaign, we are incredibly excited about what the rest of 2018 will bring.

Derek Rodrigues, Founder, Nized

Nized is bringing an end to paper documents, both for the good of humanity and the good of your sanity. Everyone has “that pile” of paper that requires action, whether it’s filing it away for safekeeping or transferring key pieces of information to track digitally. Dealing with that pile is inefficient, tedious, and shouldn’t be so difficult. Paper is a hindrance to an efficient and organized life. Nized is committed to eliminating the need for paper documents before they are printed by offering a way to obtain and store a digital alternative in your own personal vault.

Imagine for a second your standard retail transaction. The transaction would proceed as expected but in the end, instead of printing a paper receipt, you simply pull out your smartphone to “scan and claim” a digital receipt. You can do this with something as straightforward as a QR code at the point-of-sale which allows you to store the receipt in your Nized vault. Once scanned the receipt is automatically organized and stored for future reference.

In addition to eliminating receipts, Nized can help digitize any paper document you may want to store. Some examples would be bills of sale, credit card statements, and utility bills. If there is a chance someone would want to store a paper document then that document should come with a printed Nized QR code for easy, painless storage. Even better, once that document is scanned you can continue to receive future documents digitally and cut out paper entirely.

Rex Mangat, CEO, Murfie, Inc.

Murfie is a high-fidelity music digitization and streaming service headquartered in Middleton, Wisconsin. Established in 2012, Murfie has successfully digitized over 800,000 albums and established arguably the worlds largest secondary marketplace for lossless HiFi music. Murfie is unique among streaming services in that its collection management and digitization capabilities provide a pathway for audiophiles and collectors to fully integrate their physical media (vinyl and CDs) with their digital music.

Murfie customers stream their music at CD-quality through desktop, mobile and premium home audio platforms like Sonos, Bluesound, NAD and McIntosh.

Amy Miller, COO and Co-Founder, Goods Unite Us Inc.


Goods Unite Us is an app and a website that helps consumers align their spending with their political beliefs and helps brands and companies get to know their consumer base so that they can stay aligned with them. 66% of Americans wants brands to take a stand on political issues. Goods Unite Us is at the forefront of a changing social and political consumerist environment by providing consumers and brands a platform to facilitate transparency.

Laurel Link, CEO, Parabo Press

Parabo Press is a photo printing service for design-minded home décor enthusiasts. People are snapping more photos than ever before and sharing them with all their pals on social media, but with so many pictures swirling by, some of our best memories get swept away in the digital stream.

We’re here to turn your favorite photos into thoughtfully designed home décor. Our app makes it simple to turn your Instagram feed, Facebook albums or camera roll, into giant 3×4 foot prints, handy calendars, sleek metal prints and more. Parabo is different from other photo print services because we offer so much more than stacks and stacks of prints. We want your photos to turn into functional art that you interact with on the regular. Our mission is to transform your favorite faces, happiest memories and most beautiful snaps into prints that fill your space with joy.

Jake Kearns, CEO and Co-Founder, Shrink Cast

Shrink Cast is a gener8tor gALPHA company. Through this program we partnered with a national retail clothing store to develop a solution to a multi-billion dollar issue within the retail industry. In the last year alone, retail stores have lost over $50 billion in shrinkage due to inventory, price and internal or external thefts.  Our solution will be executed in three stages:

Stage 1: Data Fusion

Stage 2: Training the machine learning Model

Stage 3: Produce a prediction for each store at risk with recommended action steps.

ShrinkCast will provide our services as a tiered subscription model where clients can sign up, provide data, and pay for our service on a monthly basis. Our subscription will be tiered and priced based on the number of stores a corporation has

Morena Taylor-Benell,  Owner-Operator, Yerba Madre

I create healing organic body products as well as unique one of a kind jewelry crafts and accessories

Tom Hammond, CEO, TheoremReach

We partner with mobile app developers to help them monetize their non-paying users by allowing them to complete surveys to earn premium content while allowing market researchers access to respondents that are normally traditionally hard to reach right where they are – on their smartphones in apps.

Sam Sutherland,  Business Lead, Spectronix

Spectronix is working to create tubular, 4 ft. LED light bulbs that simulate sunlight. These lights can be used to replace fluorescent bulbs that are used in offices, hospitals, schools, etc. Our light will have a microcontroller on it with software that varies the spectrum and intensity of the 10 different colored LEDs to simulate sunlight throughout the entire day. These lights will address SAD(Seasonal Affect Disorder), help regulate circadian rhythms (consequently leading to better sleep), and eye strain. All problems that fluorescent lights perpetuate.

Richard Schmidt, CEO Medical Engineering Innovations, Inc.

Medical Engineering Innovations is developing radio-frequency based surgical tools for treating cancer patients. MEI was founded by a group of UW researchers who have dedicated themselves to providing better survival rates for liver cancer patients by minimizing blood loss during resection and tumor ablation surgery. With the best surgical tools available, the current 5-year survival rates (figure of merit used by oncologists) is less than 20%. Our surgical studies indicate that the MEI SwiftBlade technology could double the 5-year survival rate for these patients. MEI SwiftBlade products address the critical factors that affect survival rate and are optimized for specific high-risk surgical procedures, in order to improve patient outcomes.

Adhera Sunkara, Chief Technology officer, 10 Newtons, Inc.

10 Newtons is perfecting the measure, analysis, and understanding of haptics (the science of touch) for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. As a digital health company, we connect healthcare providers and patients with anatomical simulators embedded with innovative sensor technology to better understand every facet of hands-on medical and therapeutic procedures. We then combine this data with deep analytics, custom algorithms, and expertise to transform the sense of touch into the science of touch.

Our flagship product, BEST Touch (Breast Exam Sensory Technology), facilitates early detection of breast cancer by enabling women and their healthcare providers to achieve mastery of hands-on breast exam skills. Using a database of over 2000 clinical breast examinations, we have identified previously unknown metrics that define a successful, expert breast examination. BEST Touch incorporates these metrics into a research validated device that uses breast models with embedded sensors and an interactive learning software to provide hands-on training. So far, over 250 women have completed the BEST Touch training for performing accurate breast self-exams.