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NIU EIGERlab’s FastPitch Competition draws passionate presenters


An innovative new toothbrush. Customized, locally-manufactured footwear. Colorful signage to help students and visitors find their way around schools. These were the top winners in NIU EIGERlab’s 12th annual FastPitch.

Entrepreneurs from around the region gathered at NIU-Rockford on October 3 to showcase their products and share their projections before a panel of judges similar to ABC’s “Shark Tank.” From the 38 eager presenters who so passionately shared their pitches, cash prizes totaling $7,500 dollars along with additional services were awarded to an outstanding group of five entrepreneurs. FastPitch has experienced an impressive run with over 500 presenters sharing their “ideas on a napkin,” products, services, apps, etc. This year’s winners, with their variety of products and services, were truly exceptional!

Rachel Lolling was recruited at a local Facebook event for this year’s event. She overcame her initial hesitation and competed, taking home the $5,000 first prize for her FitsBrush toothbrush. With 20 years of experience in the dental field, she is on a mission to ensure that people are brushing correctly and practicing proper oral hygiene. When she’s not working at her fulltime position in the Rockford Public Schools system, she’s in one of the nine local stores which carry her toothbrush, educating people on different products, proper brushing & flossing techniques, disease awareness, and answering any questions people may have on dental treatment and procedures. FitsBrush is currently sold to dental offices, online, in local stores, and can also be used as a fundraiser for schools, clubs, and organizations to promote good oral hygiene.

Annie Mohaupt took second place with Mohop, an on-demand, custom footwear designer and maker. Mohop combines cutting-edge digital fabrication with traditional artisanal techniques to make beautiful, comfortable shoes that reflect your style. Good news for the region: the Mohaputs have just purchased a 10,000 square foot building in Rockford to manufacture Mohop products! We welcome these artistic entrepreneurs, along with their distinctive line of products.

AnnDee Nimmer took third place with her product, RoomTagz. RoomTagz visually enhances schools throughout the nation and Canada, helping visitors, parents and first responders easily navigate school hallways. As a former teacher, she understands the importance of signage that is easily changed to assist with employee updates and creates a welcoming and safe environment.

Entrepreneur Addie Ford took home the Dale Falconer Spirit of Entrepreneurship award for her pitch on the Grant View Distillery. She won a six-month complimentary coworking membership at NIU EIGERlab’s coworking space at NIU-Rockford with her distillery, where she will have access to counseling and other services. Grant View Distillery is set on 22 acres complete with a craft size vineyard and orchard, and it’s the first distillery in the Rockford area since Prohibition. Grant View, which includes a tasting room, is slated to open in 2019. It was fitting that Addie won this Spirit award as her business is spirits!

Joseph Scheidt, a senior at the University of Chicago, was named best student innovator for Avior Analytics. His online tool assists with keeping both patients and physical therapists actively engaged long-term in the physical rehabilitation process. He was injured during his stint in college sports, so he spoke from experience when he shared that many people do not follow through with their therapy, which is often to the detriment of the patient.

FastPitch’s 2017 winner, Dr. Trevor Gibbs of Naperville, gave the event’s keynote address. His product, Anestand, which provides a space for anesthesiologists’ tools in the operating room, was created with the assistance of NIU EIGERlab’s Center for Product Development. Anestand is set to hit the marketplace this year. He delivered a thought-provoking keynote speech injected with humor and shared his enthusiasm from being energized by all of the talented, passion-filled FastPitch presenters.

For the complete list of 2018 presenters’ information including links to their websites, visit www.eigerlab.org/fastpitch.

For more information on what NIU EIGERlab offers entrepreneurs and existing businesses in the region, visit our website or contact Sherry Pritz Enderle at (815) 753-2192.

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