Pitch & Re-Play

badgerstartup-pitchreplayThe MERLIN Pitch & rePlay Returns

Spaces for the 2019 Pitch & rePlay  are filled  – new applications will go on our standby list.  Scroll down for details.

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.

We have accepted twenty applications for 2019 as listed below.  To be added to our standby list, use the form below and click Submit.  If you have questions contact Chief Pitch Wrangler, Dennis Barnum

Your Name (required)

Your Title (required)

Company Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Your Phone (required)

Your Website

Company Summary (250 word maximum)

Logo (1mb maximum, gif, png, jpg, jpeg)

Applicants selected to present must participate in the full day Summit program.  Check in at the registration desk on arrival to secure your starting table assignment.  

Any presenter not checked in by 9 am will lose his/her presentation slot and a standby applicant will be substituted.

The 2019 Summit is August 22, 2019

Registration is open

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

Note: The Summit is included with Forward Pass purchase but registration is still required.  Use your VIP code to zero out any fees

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!


Check out the entrepreneurs who will pitch at the 2019 Summit

Emik VaytsPlanet Pong

Our company is a local startup coming out of Madison, WI. We develop, manufacture, and sell our portable arcade machine, Planet Pong. Our machine is built on cutting edge technology and has the capability of connecting to a players iPhone, which bridges the gap between mobile and physical gameplay. We also provide management tools for our machine so that our customers can keep track of highscores and pay-per-play sales. In the future we plan to utilize our framework for other IoT applications, such as monitoring hydroponic units for plant growth and monitoring trash bins for waste management

Gina Patel,  President and CEO, Patel Kwan Consultancy, LLC

PK Consultancy LLC is a contract research organization with expertise in clinical pharmacology and pharmacokinetics. Use of clinical pharmacology and pharmacokinetics has become an essential tool to inform decision making during the drug development process with a goal to reduce time to market. Our team works in an integrated manner with clients to accelerate drug development whilst reducing the cost of bringing drugs to market.

Mehmet Ali Tever Co-founder, Full Count Funding

Our company aims to solve the financial struggles of Minor League athletes, while allowing sports fanatics to make money through investing in athletes. Our company allows sports fans to invest money in Minor League players, which would generate an additional income to the financially struggling Minor League players. The customers are paid back once the players make it to the Major League, with a percentage of their signed contract earnings. Our plan is to start with Baseball leagues and expand to other athletic fields as we grow.

Olivia Wisden, CEO, Underbelly

UnderBelly is a curated, personalized platform that highlights local, inclusive businesses and off beat events. We aim to be the bridge that connects users who are looking for things that are happening with the businesses and events that are trying to reach their customers.

Ultimately our goal is to be able to provide recommendations to events and local businesses in cities you are visiting based off your previous experiences.

Anthony Valiulis, President and Founder DaVinci Industries

Retailers and big brands alike all have problems when it comes to inventory monitoring and management. Keeping track of current inventory levels, especially storefronts, costs companies millions of dollars each year. Despite high-tech POS systems and trained employees working countless hours to accurately track inventory, the reality is that on average only 63% of inventory is accurately tracked. If stores inventory count is wrong they may over or understock inventory for display costing stores 1.1 trillion dollars in 2018. DaVinci’s technological advancements and proprietary systems aim to raise that number to 95%. DaVinci Industries was founded based upon a need for transformative innovations in merchandise display and inventory management in the retail industry. Retail companies are losing money and need something to help save them money: A product that will keep items beautifully front faced at all time; A product to help significantly reduce the theft; A product to help keep track of the amount of inventory a store has. Our product, Acutrack, is focused on reducing labor cost on the most basic level for both front facing of products in retail stores and the inventory management. Acutrack is the first ever retail display product with built in tracking technology making the need of tagging items with individual RFID tags a thing of past. With Acutrack, main-street retailer’s retail display systems will be able to help them become more competitive with e-commerce companies, retaining jobs and a vital main-street retail presence.

Devonshe Thornton, CEO,  Koi Fish Technology

Koi Fish Technology is a technology based company that offer many different fraud protective services to financial institutions. Software including anti scanner reading material for debit cards and check reading software.

Nicholas Shepherd, Founder, GLW Technologies

GLW Technologies is a dedicated to innovation through Product Design via Additive Manufacturing also known as FDM, or 3D printing, Design for Additive Manufacturing or (DfAM) is a entirely new field of technical design enabling small and large business to save on costs not just for Rapid Prototyping but for small run manufacturing. Allowing even start-ups to compete with larger more established entities.

Brittany Peckham, Founder, Commstrong

Through our website, and eventually through a mobile application, CommStrong will allow community members to donate to local non-profits and receive discounts at local retailers in the form of digital coupons in return for their donation. The vision is that they will be able to donate and then get credit for twice the amount of their donation to apply to a variety of digital coupons at local retailers near them. Geolocation will also play a large role in the concept once the mobile application is developed. Our target market are individuals between the ages of 18 and 34 who make 30K – 75K+ a year. These individuals will have the opportunity to learn about the different causes they could be helping in their community, while donating and saving money in the process. Non-profits will be raising money while gaining exposure to generations that they are currently having trouble reaching (gen-z and millennials). Retailers will get free advertising, besides the cost of the discount they provide.

Evan Wolfenden, Founder, Zero Barrier Corporation

Zero Barrier is a Metal 3D Printing service for affordable prototyping and production on demand. Customers will upload 3D models of their parts to our website and receive an instant quote. In three days or less, their parts arrive at their door. Our competitive edge is a printer which can build an entire layer in just one step, like a paper stamp. The result is a 60x faster build rate than commercial printers and a cost of goods around $25/kg for 316 stainless steel. Selling production volume parts at $50/kg will make us the most affordable metal 3D printing solution yet.
Zero Barrier’s proprietary printer combines decades old metal injection molding techniques with plastic stereolithography. The print cycle starts when a mixture of metal powder and UV sensitive plastic binder are coated onto a print bed. A special UV projector then shines an image onto the print bed, selectively polymerizing the layer. The process is then repeated until a green part with plastic binder and metal powder is formed. From here, the plastic is burned off and the remaining metal powder is fused in a process called sintering.
In preparation for a soft launch in six months, we are currently refining our printer and working with beta customers to ensure material and dimensional consistency. Initially, we will focus on selling prototypes to small engineering firms. As we scale, we will begin advertising online and offering just in time production for small volume orders.

Ben Conrad, Founder, Mechanomy

Designers and engineers use our tools to simulate the inner workings of their products, helping them to create better performing products that deliver more value to their users. Too often engineers work in isolation reinventing wheels, creating designs that cannot be easily discovered or licensed by external engineers. In contrast, our web platform allows users to exhibit the dynamic performance of their systems and convince other users of the maturity and dependability of the user’s design. Expanding this, we are creating a web-based marketplace where end-users can explore the performance of components from potential suppliers, greatly reducing purchasing risk. We market our tools through showcase products that demonstrate the power of our approach over all stages of product development, manufacturing, and operation. These efforts give Mechanomy unique access to the initial stages of new product development, providing opportunities to apply our disruptive user vision in every subsequent product development stage.

Yang Cui, Founder and CEO, Dinetwork

Dinetwork is a professional networking application that facilitates face-to-face social interactions between university students who seek networking opportunities and professionals who are passionate about giving back. With the existing platforms, Students and professionals struggle to make timely, lasting, and rewarding connections. We understand the current difficulties and fix these problems.

With matching service Dinetwork provides, students who did not get access to targeted companies, industries and network capitals can now get first-hand information and career mentoring. For professionals who are already driven to take initiative for giving back can be free from excessive cold emails or LinkedIn requests. Dinetwork helps them to systematically manage their sparse time to help students and enables them to keep up with the mentees they helped while giving them monetary rewards. Young professionals can therefore get helped with paying the bills while doing something meaningful to the community, while established professionals can have the chance to directly transfer the money they get to charities at their choice as donations. Dinetwork meetings are scheduled one-on-one during meal times, coffee breaks, or sparse leisure time so that it is an efficient use of the professional’s time.

Dinetwork is at its early stage of development. In the US we expect to reach a market share of 40% of the SAM, making up to 420k professionals and students. We’ve begun conducting Market Research with 30 people and have led us to iterate on our hypothesis several times. Later on, we will continue to interview and build tractions.

Tom Rebholz, CEO, Co-Founder,  Struggling Readers Bright Futures

The bottom 20% of all readers deal with one of three neurological challenges, phonological or fluency dyslexia, or a working memory issue. They are usually several grades behind their peers. My son was one of these kids. Over 7 years we spent $150,000 only to see him finishing fourth-grade reading at a low first-grade level. The average parent of these kids spends $5,000 to $7,000 a year to help them with almost no impact.

There is nothing wrong with these kids they just learn differently. They have to be taught in a way their unique brain understands. Most of these kids can learn to read at grade level. My son just finished seventh-grade reading above grade level and that’s not an uncommon result. These kids can be easily identified at age five or six.

We have developed a testing and remediation process. It combines the latest neuroscience, mindfulness, neurolinguistic programming and our own protocol along with tried and true methods. This allows us to develop an understanding of their brain and how it learns. This helps us to develop an individualized learning plan for their unique brain.

Better yet, our process works for all readers and the need is great. 65% of students finish their education reading at a level appropriate for a 12-year-old or below. ⅔ of students who cannot read proficiently by fourth-grade will end up in jail or on welfare. We can change that together.

Tara Gimmer, Founder, TAG ME Headshots, Inc.



Mobile photo studios offering business headshots to companies, at conferences and to individuals in custom trailers. Our target market is the business professional who understands the importance of personal branding for their companies, in particular when using LinkedIn. The mobile studio’s headshot offering is quick, easy and fun yet maintains a premium level of service and delivers a quality product at an attractive price. MVP – an efficient 20 minute headshot session including one retouched final image delivered as a high resolution JPG. Up to 20 twenty minute sessions can be scheduled each day at $129 per. Expected 100% up sales of additional images at $30 per customer making the average per customer sale – $159.
Estimated daily gross revenue per trailer – $3180. The mobile studios are a scalable version of an existing, proven volume based headshot model. Each trailer will operate regionally within a three hour radius of it’s home base. Initial launch will be in Madison, WI.  Additional trailers will be added to new regional markets with the outcome of a national network of trailers.

There are 150M LinkedIn users in the US. 43 percent have professionally shot profile pictures (JDP study/Forbes). That’s 64.5M existing buyers of professional headshots.
The average price of a business headshot in the United States ranges between $150 -180 (Thumbtack). At $159 per customer that’s a $1.025B market. Mobile photos studios specializing in business headshots are the solution to the growing need to show there’s a human being behind an online persona.

Matthew Braund, Founder, Forember

Forember allows people to remember and honor their loved ones by capturing the best of life’s memories. Close your eyes and take a moment. Think deeply about someone who made your life better. Someone that you wish you could honor. Someone that you never want to forget. Maybe the person you are thinking of is still present today. Forember is a way that you can create an intimate community to share personal connections with this loved one. This community will help them feel loved, valued and appreciated as you help them create a living legacy. Maybe the person you are thinking of has passed away and your heart yearns to be close to them. But you’re not sure how to fill the emptiness. Are you searching for ways to remember the good times, the sound of their voice or to keep their stories alive? Forember is a way to collect the best memories and leave a lasting legacy in their name. Forember allows everyone with the opportunity to be remembered and honored.

Ulysses Dinkins, VP of Construction Technology, UCHardChip Inc.

UCHardChip products attack the root causes of the construction industry’s deplorable safety and productivity by accommodating hands-free communication among workers and supervisors, by allowing coordination with their tools and materials.
• Workers compensation costs are reduced when the number and severity of accidents are reduced. UCHardChip’s “enterprise version” hardhat harness will illuminate dark spaces, identify worker location, alert workers and supervisors to hazards, enable voiced and automatic help requests, provide first responders with the shortest safe path to injured workers and the best path to evacuate the injured workers and generate records for safety event tracking databases.
• Drags on construction productivity include downtime for accident response, time wasted building incorrectly then reworking the errors, time wasted searching for and retrieving materials and tools, time wasted finding relevant drawings and specifications and wasted time and errors when the skills of particular workers are mismatched with the work to which they are assigned. UCHardChip sensors and communication devices on the workers themselves track their location, allow workers to request assistance on work details, link workers to tools and materials and stream appropriate instructions to workers. Data collected automatically by UCHardChip wearables can be ported to popular construction management and ERP software platforms, reducing the time and distraction of manual data entry by site supervisors and safety monitors.
• UCHardChip communications devices will stream useful information to apprentices, individual task reminders and safety hints and alerts.

Olivia Merithew, CEO and Co-founder, Inland Alpine/Snosuite.

There is a lack of innovation for safety and communications in the ski industry. The SnoSuite utility software app will deliver a new level of safety and communications to attract and engage new and existing skiers to ski resorts. Over 13 years working within the ski industry, we have seen a strong need to break away from the status quo and embrace new technologies. SnoSuite will be every mountain’s app and universal platform. The beta version, Snopinion, is available in the App Store. With SnoSuite, skiers and alpine communities will have improved safety response and processes, streamlined communications, reduced environmental impact, trusted snow conditions reporting, and safer smartphone usage.

Ben Winters, Founder and COO, FoodChain.

FoodChain seeks to increase the availability of and access to safe, healthy, and affordable local produce, using technology to connect local communities, support local economies, and democratize food systems. By combining an end-to-end farmer-to-purchaser marketplace with fleet and traditional logistics to handle shipments, FoodChain creates a centralized, aggregated, and efficient network to provide local sourcing of organic and artisanal produce to restaurants, grocery stores, and caterers. In essence, FoodChain provides a marketplace and shipping logistics connecting local farmers and producers with purchasers.

Ryan Wisth, CEO and Co-Founder, Splendor Technology

Splendor’s Eagle Eye device provides research labs an affordable method for measuring subcutaneous tumor volume and surface quality. Splendor uses image algorithms to decrease the traditional cost of tumor tracking and creates image quality on par with current gold standard imaging processes. Eagle is currently being used one research laboratory at the University of Wisconsin Hospital System. We have successfully cut the cost of measurements with respect to current technology by 300 times. We are currently finding interested customers and applying for grants to make our prototype reach market.

Tricia Suess, President, The Virtual Foundry

With many options for metal part creation – and increasing technologies in the metal additive manufacturing space – The Virtual Foundry’s Filamet™ brand of metal 3D printing filaments stands alone in providing a material solution that works in common, existing 3D printing hardware intended for plastic filaments. Filamet™ works in 3D printers the same way that common plastic filaments work. The printers are familiar. The printing process is familiar. The result is entirely uncommon.

Claiming the path to pure metal from the desktop, Filamet™ works by printing just like common 3D printing plastics. In certain applications, the printed object is then heat treated in a furnace to burn out the material’s plastic binder that holds the metal powder in the filament shape (debind), fuse the metal particles together (sinter) and leave a pure metal part.

Save money by sourcing the 3D printer that’s right for you. Save time by printing your parts rather than waiting for the machine shop to deliver. Enhance your business by making and selling objects that were out of reach before. Make an impact. Be a part of the new industrial revolution.


Christopher Pinon, CEO and Founder, All Around Music Online Lessons

All Around Music Online Lessons provides a hassle-free and modern experience of taking music lessons online.

Jack Yang, Co-Founder,  Rentry

A B2B platform for rentals of mens streetwear.