NGLCC’s LGBT Sip & Pitch Program: Consulting, Health and Food Companies Present Their Ideas
Another round of the LGBT Sip & Pitch program took place with the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) on June 12! Sip & Pitch is an event for LGBT business owners to present their business ideas, hear advice from corporate professionals and network over coffee and cocktails. Corporate Partner Shell partnered with NGLCC to present this event.
This program was slightly different than previous Sip & Pitch programs -- instead of using the last hour of the event as a traditional Community and Conversation portion, we decided to allocate that time to be an “Education Hour” for the NGLCC community to watch Ava Duvernay’s documentary “13th.” The NGLCC also took the time to mourn the innocent lives lost at Pulse four years ago.
As our Co-Founders Justin Nelson and Chance Mitchell recently highlighted in an op-ed with the Washington Blade, this Pride month is especially important for communities of color.
“If you don’t think racial justice is an LGBT fight too, you don’t get it,” they wrote. “The unique threads of diversity that weave together forming our LGBT community highlight that our causes are forever linked. LGBT people are black and brown, Asian and Native American, abled and disabled, and so much more. But we all fight, march, and commit ourselves to one goal: a nation that sees us, respects us, treats each of us as equals.”
This week, five businesses presented their ideas to our panel of judges: Kim Springsteen-Abbott from Commonwealth Capital Corp., Brian Hall from Shell and Kristen Hickey from Twitter. Many participants voiced their thoughts on the business pitches in the chat box, as well.
The first business presented Otis Health, a dental company focused on “protecting the health and beauty of your smile.” Andrew Lee, the founder of the company, experienced a hate crime right out of dental school, and ended up grinding teeth from the trauma. He said he made “lemons into lemonade” and created an accessible night guard for Bruxism, or teeth grinding.
Lee emphasized the cheap and ineffective nature of over-the-counter options for night guards, as well as the inaccessibility of highly priced options only available by a dentist with long waiting times. Luckily, Otis Health’s night guard is an easy and affordable way to help with teeth grinding.
Otis Health mails customers a teeth impression that they can easily complete themselves and then mail back to the company. Then, they mail the guard back to the customer. Lee is now selling the kits with Walgreens nationwide, and hoping to expand to CVS, Target and other stores in the next few years. Lee also noted he wants to expand Otis Health’s offerings to whitening trays or hygiene kits.
Next up was Crystal Clear Financial Solutions, where founder Crystal Suber presented a new concept for her business: “Currency Concepts: A Financial Resource Center.”
After 14 years in the financial industry,, Suber noticed many people had gaps in their financial education, and some didn’t have access to a financial coach. These gaps and lack of resources are significantly more severe in communities of color, as noted by Suber.
Suber’s center would hold financial courses, have books to checkout and hire coaches for on-site tutoring. Courses will cover cash flow and budget analysis.
Robert Anstett of Southport Solutions, a software design firm, shared his business plan with the group next. Anstett presented the new program HealthForms.io, a healthcare database that will be released in the next few weeks.
Anstett served on a subcommittee on technology for Boy Scouts of America for the last 10 years. In this time, he was frustrated with the lack of management of medical forms in the organization -- for every conference or event he attended, he would need to bring physical forms signed by a doctor on any health concerns.
HealthForms.io is designed to alleviate the inconveniences caused by hauling physical health documents everywhere. Instead, the program stores your health information on a safe and secure cloud that can be accessed on any device connected to the internet. This tool is targeted toward summer camps, youth sports and youth organizations. The system also uses AI technology to automate approvals and pull allergies to keep participants safe.
The next business was Kikos Coffee and Tea, where founder Juan Arroyave shared how his business is pivoting due to COVID-19 restrictions. Arroyave has been expanding Kikos and adding additional coffee roasts, tea and cold coffee options. Online sales are skyrocketing, so he has been working on establishing an online store. Kikos Coffee and Tea just became a Certified LGBTBE® and Minority Business Enterprise this year.
The company is also working on expanding business to consumer selling instead of just business to business selling.
Big World Little Om, founded by Mera Malik 4 years ago, was the last presenter of the day. Malik created this educational project to focus on non-traditional families, changes and social development for children.
Creating a children’s book “Om the Enchanted: A Social Emotional Adventure” and a comprehensive curriculum, Mailk hopes to teach kids the origins of intolerance, communication skills and difficult subjects like divorce. The lessons follow common-core standards, as well.
Malik is also looking into creating an app that pairs with the curriculum to help kids regulate and recognize emotions through games that will follow the same themes as “Om the Enchanted.” The kids can share the game with someone they trust, such as an adult, where the trusted person can look at what emotions the kids are feeling.
The NGLCC network was floored yet again by the unique and engaging business pitches, and is excited for the next LGBT Sip & Pitch event on June 26.
For additional ways to help you, your business, and the LGBT community during this time, visit the NGLCC COVID-19 Resource Hub for the LGBT Business Community.