CORRECTION: This story was updated at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, to correct the spelling of Kevin Bate's name.
An alternative milk delivery service that hearkens back to the days of glass bottles on doorsteps won the annual Will This Float? pitch competition on the first night of Startup Week on Monday.
Elizabeth Bounds, the "milk ma'am" for Other Milk, will get $3,000 to build out her startup, which delivers locally sourced and produced milk alternatives in glass bottles to subscribers.
"You know, the way it used to be, just with all the 2021 upgrades," Bounds told the crowd at Waterhouse Pavilion. "It's a return to the original direct-to-consumer model."
The audience choice winner of the pitch competition, Outshine Adventures + Nomad Be Happy, rents custom vans and builds individualized adventures for folks looking to hit the road and have some fun.
"It's a scalable model that sells our hometown as much as the adventure," said Robby Eskridge in pitching his vision for Nomad Be Happy.
John and Tara Biondolillo took one of the company's vans to Asheville, North Carolina, for a long weekend in early October and came out to see the pitch.
"It's urban camping," John said. "We loved it."
Demand for outdoor adventure was already on the rise before the pandemic hit, and it has exploded in the last 18 months, said Sunshine Loveless, founder of Outshine Adventures.
"Our bookings and revenues have tripled since 2020," she said.
Other pitch competitors included Family Scripts, a newsletter featuring ideas to enrich family life, which Hope Henchey has created over the past decade as she has homeschooled her growing family. The curated recipes, games, lessons and conversation guides is a "life curriculum for the whole family," Henchey said during her pitch.
Charity Painter pitched their vision for Soft Animal, a business to host events where everyone feels safe and welcome, including and especially marginalized people.
Startup Week signature events
See the full schedule at colab.co/startupweekcha
Tuesday, Oct. 19
Sustainability and Recycling pitch and pilot competition: Noon-1:30 p.m. at Waterhouse Pavilion
TVFCU Idea Leap pitch competition: 3:30-5:30 p.m. at Bessie Smith Cultural Center
Wednesday, Oct. 20
Job Fair: Noon-4 p.m. at Waterhouse Pavilion
Maker’s Marketplace: 5-7 p.m. at Waterhouse Pavilion
Thursday, Oct. 21
The Startup Social and Startup Awards: 6-9 p.m. at Finley Stadium
"All people deserve safe spaces," Painter told the crowd.
Enoch Elwell pitched his business, Vintage Outfitting, which sends customers on the road for adventures in restored vintage Land Rovers and Land Cruisers.
"In 2021, the vintage luxury market is the top trend in hospitality," he said during his pitch.
Kevin Bate described his vision for an "immersion gallery" where patrons can have interactive experiences with art and artists.
"If you gave me 30 minutes, I could not tell you every cool idea I have for this space," he said.
With a slate of more than 80 events over five days, the 2021 edition of Startup Week is largely in person and outdoors after going online in 2020.
On Tuesday, one of the featured events is a reverse pitch competition to help the city of Chattanooga find solutions to its ongoing challenge of recycling waste. City officials are eager to find ways to improve the city's recycling processes to make them more efficient and effective, including working with entrepreneurs for innovative solutions.
In addition to pitch competitions and other signature events, the week includes a host of panels and more casual activities, from goat yoga and happy hours to one-on-one coaching for minority business owners. The events are free, though some require registration to manage capacity.
Begun in 2014, Chattanooga's Startup Week is designed to inspire and celebrate the success of small businesses.
Contact Mary Fortune at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @maryfortune.
The pitch competitors for Will This Float?
Winner: Other Milk
Founder: Elizabeth Bounds
Business description: Other Milk is an alternative milk brand that makes and delivers oat and pecan milk right to your door.
Audience Choice winner: Outshine Adventures + Nomad Be Happy
Founder: Sunshine Loveless (Outshine Adventures), Robby & Lindsey Eskridge (Nomad Be Happy)
Business description: Nomad Be Happy is a customizable adventure van rental company focused on promoting the local experience while also promoting our city as a whole around the country. Outshine Adventures is dedicated to providing sustainable eco-tours, immersive outdoor experiences and custom travel itineraries that inspire people to adventure differently.
Company: The Immersion Gallery
Founder: Kevin Bate
Business description: The Immersion Gallery is an ever-changing collection of immersive, themed exhibits featuring local artists, sculptors, dancers, animators, poets and more. It’s one part gallery, one part theater, one part funhouse.
Company: Vintage Outfitting
Founder: Enoch Elwell
Business description: Vintage Outfitting provides curated overlanding adventure rentals of restored vintage Land Rovers and Land Cruisers, perfectly equipped with a rooftop tent, supplies, and pre-planned routes for an authentic vintage overlanding experience.
Company: Family Scripts
Founder: Hope Henchey
Business description: Family Scripts is a paid weekly newsletter for parents that gives them guidance on how to enrich their kids’ lives.
Company: Soft Animal
Founder: Charity Painter
Business description: Soft Animal is a mobile safe space specializing in event curation for marginalized people. We seek to celebrate being and create fun experiences by hosting events that cater to the “soft animals of our bodies.”
Company: Scenic City Broadway Dinner Theater
Founder: Garry Posey
Business description: Scenic City Broadway is a dinner and theater company catering to Chattanooga tourists.
Company: Restore Furniture Ltd. Co.
Founder: Alex Stayte
Business description: Restore Furniture is dedicated to building quality, artistic, durable furniture from recycled plastic waste. We believe that our products will genuinely make an impact on the plastic pollution crisis through the purchasing of plastic waste as a primary material for a long-lasting product.
Adrienne Cooper, founder and CEO of Moonlight Roller
Erin Felton Lopez, Etsy Inc. Strategy and Analytics, MBA
Meilani Santillán, program director at Code for America
Jay Shaffer, angel investor and board member of Atlanta Tech Angels