On Wednesday, Aug. 23, TechTown hosted the Summer 2023 Demo Day for its Start Studio MVP program. Nine tech founders presented live demonstrations of their minimum viable products (MVPs) to an energetic crowd: Beauty GoGO, Connected, Drone Capital, I’M LIT Learning, MerryMob, My Career Nav, Supernatural Hair Care, TruFleet and Wellness Weirdos. During the six-week Start Studio MVP program that ended with Demo Day, the tech founders built an early prototype of their business with their mentors and developers.
Of the nine participants in this cohort, seven of them graduated from TechTown’s Start Studio Discovery spring 2023 cohort. The 10-week, entry-level program is meant for tech founders to refine their startup ideas and perform customer discovery.
At Demo Day, the People’s Choice Award winners were determined by the attendees; each person was given five tickets to “vote” for their favorite MVP. Every tech founder had a box on their demo table for folks to place their ticket in. One ticket equaled one vote. At the end of the evening, the tickets were counted, and the two businesses with the most tickets won the People’s Choice Awards. One tech startup received the Coaches’ Choice Award, which was voted on by the entrepreneurs-in-residence and MVP development mentors involved in this cohort.
Beauty GoGO, People’s Choice Award winner
Created by Jackie and Orna Spencer, the Beauty GoGO app aims to change how people shop from local beauty supply stores. Through the app, users will be able to purchase items for delivery or pick-up directly from those stores around metro Detroit.
After participating in the Start Studio Discovery spring 2023 cohort, the Spencers say they decided to continue their journey with Start Studio because the coaches and mentors understood their business and knew how to take Beauty GoGO to the next level.
“Our experience presenting a live demo of BeautyGoGO at Demo Day was so exciting,” the Spencers say, adding that Start Studio MVP allowed them to work with an app developer to create their business’ platform. “It gave us an opportunity to show what we have been working so hard on and to get real-time feedback on our app. It was fun watching people navigate through the app with us. We both learned the value of being prepared.”
The Spencers plan to use the award money to fund the next stages of developing Beauty GoGO’s app. “We are so thankful to everyone at TechTown for their help, expertise and resources in getting BeautyGoGO where we are today and [we are] super thankful for all those who voted for us!”
Supernatural Hair Care, People’s Choice Award runner-up
Supernatural Hair Care is a hair care business created by Tia Baldwin, offering plant-based hair products and consultations. During the consultation, customers take a quiz that will provide them with a simplified hair care routine and recommended products. Customers can also opt-in to be matched with a hairstylist to help them achieve their hair goals.
Baldwin is another graduate of the Start Studio Discovery spring 2023 cohort and felt it was a natural step to continue with Start Studio MVP. “Being a part of Start Studio MVP was such a big help to Supernatural Hair Care’s tech development journey,” she says. “The program provided us with not only guidance but also a community of mentors and developers.”
Baldwin plans to use the award money to refine Supernatural Hair Care’s marketing strategies and enhance the business’ user experience. “Securing the runner-up position for the People’s Choice Award was a heartwarming moment,” Baldwin says. “It validated the hard work we’d put into crafting Supernatural Hair Care and showed that people were excited about our concept. The recognition gives us the confidence to keep pushing forward.”
I’M LIT Learning, Coaches’ Choice Award
Jerret Johnson, founder of I’M LIT Learning, aims to make learning more fun for all students through the history of hip-hop. Her business serves as a marketplace for educators, offering hip-hop learning materials to engage and motivate their students.
Johnson participated in Start Studio Discovery twice before moving on to Start Studio MVP. She says after her second time in the program, her vision for I’M LIT Learning was much more clear, and she narrowed down her starting customers. And Johnson is not new to the tech startup world; ten years ago, she created a low-code mobile trivia game with an app developer. However, she says she wished a program like Start Studio MVP was around back then to guide her through the process.
“Presenting I’M LIT Learning on live Demo Day was a vibe!” Johnsons says. “The energy was electrifying and a great confidence booster for sure. I learned that people’s experiences participating in the school system were all similar. Presenting the problem that our hip-hop educators’ marketplace will solve for teachers, students and households was fulfilling.”
Johnson plans to use the award money for I’M LIT Learning’s marketing campaign, as well as collaborating with teachers who want to contribute to the marketplace. “It always feels amazing when individuals get your vision, but winning the Coaches’ Choice Award hit different for me,” she says. “It says, ‘I see you, I get you and I believe in you!’”