Welcome back to The Pitch! This season, we head to Chicago to meet 14 founders with 12 business ideas big enough to change the world. Everything from a better ketchup to a potential solution to one of the biggest problems of our time - energy.
The founders just need one thing... money. And on this season, investors commit over $900,000 to bring those ideas to life. Plus, for the first time, we’re letting listeners invest alongside the investors on our show. New episodes drop weekly starting February 8th. See you in The Pitch Room.
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Neal Sáles-Griffin: Hey y’all, I’m Neal Sáles-Griffin, welcome to Chicago!
On our comeback season of The Pitch, recorded live in Chicago…We hold back nothing.
14 founders, 8 investors, and 12 ideas big enough to change the world. Everything from a better ketchup…
Paul Lehmann: We were not going to join the same old sauce game. We were going to disrupt a 130 billion dollar industry.
Carl Starkey: We're coming after Heinz.
To rebuilding our most broken industries.
Elias Stahl: Starting with the most wasteful and inefficient industry on the planet - the fashion industry.
Jenna Sereni: We're going to burn it to the ground and start fresh.
And even a business that’s trying to solve arguably the biggest problem of our time - energy.
Luis Medina: So when it comes to an electric vehicle that's basically just a big battery that happens to have wheels. In the future, the vehicles in garage, it's going to be like a giant power plant.
On The Pitch, these founders aren’t just here shilling big dreams… they're here for big money.
Mark Phillips: I would like to invest in this round. 300,000 dollars.
Mac Conwell: I'm in. I'm in for 50k.
Capri Wheaton: we don't have any money committed in the current round.
Neal: You do now.
On this season, hundreds of thousands of dollars are invested in companies on our show.
But it doesn’t come easy.
Jillian Manus: And what’s the valuation on that?
Ariana Vargus: I want to have that conversation if you're ready to invest.
Jillian: Ok, that’s the answer that I didn’t want
And…not everyone walks out of The Pitch room with cash.
Phil Nadel: So wait, you're paying 12 cents and you're selling it for 8 cents?
Carl: That's right.
Phil: Let me just think about this.
Elizabeth Yin: Have you gotten any commission to date?
Kehan Zhou: Yes. We closed one transaction
Jillian: One transaction.
But that’s not going to stop these founders from shooting their shot.
David Matthews: We're building a 10 billion company. There’s no way we’re going lower in valuation.
Jillian - That's kind of sexy.
Neal: Go make the money honey.
And sometimes….it works. And when it works, it really works.
Phil: if anyone can make it work, it's you.
Charles Hudson: if I could bottle you and write software that was Kelvin, you could sell anything.
Jillian: I mean, if we’re not investing in this, then shame on us, truthfully. // This is exactly where we should put our bets.
And on the 9th season of The Pitch, we’re doing something a little crazy! We’re going to let listeners invest in the startups on our show, alongside the investors.
Speaking of said investors - we brought back everyone’s favorites. And introduced a few new friends to the show. Including, but not limited to, Tequila!
Josh Muccio: We’re doing shots! We’re doing shots right here!
Victor Gutwein: Guys, it’s still, it’s still not noon.
Jillian: Well, we’re gonna do a half. The problem is that when I drink tequila, I have like a) no filter, b) no inhibitions.
Victor: So you're saying it's gonna get worse?
Mark: Did you have Tequila coming in already?
We’re so happy to be back. New episodes start dropping weekly on February 8th… Wednesday is pitch day, once again.
Follow The Pitch, WHEREVER you get your podcasts.
Jillian: So, glasses up, here’s to The Pitch. Here’s to investing in the future that we want to see.
Neal: That’s right! I love it.
Jillian: Now sip this, don’t shot it, sip it.
Investor on The Pitch
Phil Nadel is the Founder and Managing Director of Forefront Venture Fund and of Forefront Venture Partners, one of the largest syndicates on AngelList. He has started and sold several companies and has invested in more than 200 startups with several exits.
Investor on The Pitch Seasons 1–10
Jillian Manus is Managing Partner of an early-stage Silicon Valley venture fund, Structure Capital. Branded “Architects of the Zero Waste Economy," they invest in underutilized assets and excess capacity. She was named one of the top 25 early-stage Female Investors by Business Insider in 2021. Jillian serves on numerous corporate and non-profit boards, these include: Stanford University School of Medicine Board of Fellows, NASDAQ Entrepreneurial Center Board of Directors, Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.
Investor on The Pitch Seasons 2–10
Charles Hudson is the Managing Partner and Founder of Precursor Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm focused on investing in the first institutional round of investment for the most promising software and hardware companies. Prior to founding Precursor Ventures, Charles was a Partner at SoftTech VC. In this role, he focused on identifying investment opportunities in mobile infrastructure.
Investor on The Pitch Seasons 6–10
Elizabeth Yin is the Co-Founder and General Partner at Hustle Fund, a pre-seed fund for software startups. Before founding Hustle Fund, Elizabeth was a partner at 500 Startups, where she invested in seed stage companies and ran the Mountain View accelerator. She’s also an entrepreneur who co-founded the ad-tech company LaunchBit, which was acquired in 2014. Her book is called Democratizing Knowledge: How to Build a Startup, Raise Money, Run a VC Firm, and Everything in Between.
Investor on The Pitch Seasons 9 & 10
Mark Phillips is the founder and managing partner of 11 Tribes Ventures. Prior to that, Mark was a strategy consultant focused on M&A between corporations and growth stage startups. He actively supported clients throughout the due-diligence and post-merger integration processes on deals totaling more than $750M.
Investor on The Pitch
Victor is the founder and managing partner of M25, the most active venture firm in the Midwest. He grew up in rural Indiana before moving to Chicago to study economics at the University of Chicago. Victor built a vending machine business and a scooter company, before cofounding UChicago’s first student-run venture fund. A Kauffman Fellow (Class 22) and former leader in Hyde Park Angels, Victor founded M25 at age 23 in 2015 and quickly grew it to become the go-to preseed/seed VC firm in the Midwest.
Investor on The Pitch
Neal Sáles-Griffin is an entrepreneur, teacher, and nonprofit leader. He co-founded the first beginner-focused in-person coding bootcamp, and ran for mayor of Chicago in 2019. He's currently the Managing Director of the Techstars Chicago accelerator as well as the Techstars Rising Stars fund, and is an Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University's McCormick School of Engineering where he teaches entrepreneurship.
Investor on The Pitch
McKeever "Mac" Conwell II is managing partner at RareBreed Ventures. Mac is a former software engineer and was a former DOD contractor with top-secret clearance. He was a two-time founder with an exit and a failure. Next Mac moved on to venture capital via the Maryland Technology Development Corporation as part of their seed investment team. Mac went on to found RareBreed Ventures, a pre-seed to seed venture fund that invests in exceptional founders outside of large tech ecosystems.