Aleksandra Brakov owner of Cafilia, a coffee-subscription tech platform, took home the $1,500 top prize at last night’s tech focus pitch event. Jay R. Fogle and Karan’Ja Williams also received prize money for their technology startups.
Pitch Cypher, held on March 30, 2023, at Re:Bar in Downtown Cleveland, was the first in the series of four tech-focused pitch events celebrating Cleveland’s BIPOC innovators, which includes three pitch events and a grand finale event. Winners of the first three competitions will participate in a finale held during FutureLAND 2023 for a chance to win up to $25K in non-dilutive funding.
In its second season, Pitch Cypher was launched in 2022 to spotlight diverse tech founders in Cleveland while fostering a community for like-minded creatives, entrepreneurs and innovators. The community-centered pitch competition is led by JumpStart Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Camille Heard, and supported by The President’s Council, Urban League of Greater Cleveland, ECDI and the Hispanic Business Center (HBC).
“I am thrilled with the energy and enthusiasm the community has for Pitch Cypher Season 2,” said Camille Heard. “I hoped to create an environment where entrepreneurs can connect with each other and resources in our community to further their journeys. Each Cypher brings in some familiar faces and some new faces—it’s incredible to see our community growing and connections being made that could lead to new opportunities.”
The competition featured five local tech startups delivering five-minute business pitches to a panel of judges. The judges selected the winner, with feedback from audience voters. Participants included:
- Karan’Ja Williams | PenWill Automated Retail | Automated retail machines with inclusive hair & beauty products on university campuses.
- Jay R Fogle| Lokul App | One-stop shop for locating and promoting minority-owned businesses.
- Aleksandra Brankov | Cafilia | Coffee subscription platform offering pay-with-your-cup convenience.
- Ryan Lawrence | Style.Re | Providing convenient and fast fashion retail delivery services.
- Myron Jones | Entang | Social platform for adult content creators to match and chat.
About Pitch Cypher
Pitch Cypher is a community-centered pitch competition and mixer highlighting diverse tech founders in Cleveland. This event series was born from the need to celebrate diversity in Cleveland’s tech ecosystem while fostering a community for like-minded creatives, entrepreneurs, and innovators.