Meet the 2023 Vogt Awards Cohort
Updated: October 913, 2023
Individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD) such as autism and Down Syndrome die 20 years sooner than neurotypical people, often due to chronic, diet-related diseases that are largely preventable, says Terri Lykins, a registered dietitian specializing in NDD with 20 years of experience.
That’s why Lykins founded My Food My Choice (MFMC), a digital platform designed to empower people with neurodevelopmental differences to plan and choose healthier food options.
Clients want control over their food choices. Caregivers want them to eat healthier and have better health outcomes. Because disagreements over food are caregivers’ main challenge with their NDD clients, this subscription-based platform can help alleviate pain points by promoting client ownership of food choices and health improvement through better nutrition.
MFMC motivates change through engagement, food selection, incentivization to choose healthier options and community support. Users can create a shopping list, choose items for meals, and try healthier foods and recipe ideas.
“We incentivize clients for using the app, which reinforces making good nutrition choices,” says Lykins. “Clients can upload pics and videos of their own healthy meals and share with other users as a community. Dietitian telehealth offers coaching to further personalize the experience and support specific health needs.”
Lykins and her team plan to use the $25,000 Vogt Award funding to build their prototype so they can test user experience, and begin sales of the app.
“I’m looking forward to Vogt Award funding for Phase 1 and 2 of my prototype and clarity around my business plan,” says Lykins. “I had the concept early on, but want to flesh out more details in my business plan, financial model, and customer model.”
What’s it like to wear a hearing aid? As you might imagine, that’s very hard to describe. Finding the right fit can be just as difficult.
So difficult, in fact, that many audiology patients get frustrated and elect not get the hearing aids they need, they get the wrong ones, or they return the ones they do purchase because they don’t fit, or their experience doesn’t match with expectations.
The founders of Immersive Hearing Technologies, Matthew Neal, Ph.D., and Jeff Cummins, MBA, believe they have the solution — they are developing a virtual reality (VR) hearing aid demonstration tool that allows patients to simulate what it’s really like to wear this type of assistive device, and get the right fit the first time.
A leading expert on VR audio algorithms, Neal developed the intellectual property for the technology, which is a software and hardware combination using headphones and/or a VR headset to create a virtual hearing aid simulation. Cummins has 25 years of experience in finance and business development with startup and fast-growth companies. His personal experience as a hearing aid user drives his passion for the company’s product.
Immersive Hearing Technologies’ VR system allows patients and audiologists to experience what hearing aids sound like, explore different hearing aid features, and adjust programming for a user’s individual preference.
“This innovative approach will help audiologists convey the features and benefits of devices, leading to improved outcomes for patients and financial results for audiologists. It will help sell more, better hearing aids, reduce returns, and reduce fitting visits,” says Neal and Cummins. Currently, there are no other practical solutions like this on the market.
Neal and Cummins plan to use the $25,000 Vogt Award funding for payroll, VR software development and to acquire new equipment for field validation.
“From the Vogt Awards, we want to take the idea of Immersive Hearing Technologies and make it into an achievable, scalable, profitable business,” says Neal and Cummins. They applied to the accelerator program “to learn from and bounce ideas off the coaches. As a researcher trained in science and technology, we need assistance with building a business, a good network, and being part of the startup ecosystem in Louisville.”
When it comes to bourbon in Kentucky, it’s easy to spend an entire day traveling among the wonderful distillery locations across the state, sampling your fill. Bourbon lovers want to make the most of their visits, but quick and easy access to all of Kentucky’s bourbon experiences has never been centralized — until now.
Eddie Fieldhouse and Dave Galownia founded The Kentucky Hug to simplify the process of booking bourbon tours, making it easier for visitors to find and book experiences, and enabling the venues to get information about their visitors. The web and mobile app platform collaborates with distilleries to centralize their available tickets and allows users to plan and book experiences all in one place.
Fieldhouse knows how great the need is for this service. As co-owner of Pegasus Transportation, he has more than 10 years of experience managing Pegasus’ distillery tours, accommodating over 70,000 visitors per year.
“The average bourbon tour guest visits three to four distilleries over eight to 10 hours. All distilleries require you to book in advance of your trip; however, currently a customer needs to go to multiple websites to book multiple experiences,” he says.
The Kentucky Hug also has a waitlist feature that notifies consumers when new tickets become available and allows distilleries to plan ahead for demand. “We are the only platform to have barrel picks,” Fieldhouse adds.
The founders believe that receiving the Vogt Award will help his company gain credibility and traction with downtown hospitality. “The Vogt Awards means a lot to us because now the bourbon industry realizes this incredible award we’ve received by Louisville, and that accomplishment will stay with us as we expand to other states,” says Fieldhouse and Galownia.
Online e-sports gamers want to improve their skills but struggle to find the right resources that are free of negativity and bullying, according to Gamerabble Co-Founders Cecile and Chris Matthews.
“Most e-sports coaching companies cater to hardcore gamers and aspiring pros, leaving out those who are new to esports, casual gamers, and others,” they said. “An Anti-Defamation League poll found 68% of online gamers experienced severe harassment, and 22% said it made them quit playing certain games.”
Enter Gamerabble, an e-sports coaching, training and development platform for gamers who want to level up their skills in a fun, inclusive, and toxicity-free environment. It offers one-on-one coaching via an online marketplace as well as an AI match analyzer, where players can upload their gameplay and receive immediate feedback. The platform can also create automatic, shareable highlight reels.
With 3.24 billion gamers worldwide, the market is wide open for this type of service. The platform is designed to help “anyone looking to monetize their video game-related skills of any value in any game of their choosing,” say the Matthews. They add that one of Gamerabble’s competitive advantages is gamification — research shows that today’s students often prefer gamified learning experiences.
The Matthews and their team plan to use the non-dilutive $25,000 Vogt Awards funding to boost the company’s marketing and sales. They applied to the Vogt Awards because they “had a strong referral that encouraged us to apply. We hope to gain from the programming and mentorship provided and to add to our blossoming network. We had heard of the Vogt Awards’ good programming, lean startup methodology, and we welcome all help.”
Freelancers often experience economic isolation and lack of connectivity because they tend to work in silos and must use multiple platforms to find gigs and collaborators. This endless cycle can be time consuming, reduce their productivity, and slow down project completion — which ultimately affects their ability to make more money.
Stevens Bonhomme believes there’s a better way.
He and his team have launched Feedcoyote, a business network platform that combines an integrated management tool with the lead generation business network that fosters better collaboration and closed deals augmented with CRM capabilities to help entrepreneurs, freelancers, independent contractors, and small-business owners manage their gigs, automate their work, share skills and earn more.
With a potential target market of 1.2 billion freelancers worldwide, Bonhomme says Feedcoyote “takes the loneliness out of freelance work with a powerful collaboration network platform that fuels efficiency globally.”
With a doctorate in business administration, master’s degrees in engineering and applied economics, along with tech experience and personal experience using platforms like Upwork, Bonhomme says he applied to the Vogt Awards “for the community, to be more connected, and to have people use our product as a catalyst for this community.”
He plans to use the $25,000 non-dilutive Vogt Awards program funding on sales and marketing. “I hope through this program, a greater number of potential customers will become familiar with what we are building and that we are able to grow the ecosystem,” Bonhomme says. “There’s a lot I don’t know about business, and I hope to learn from the leaders’ various strategies and to replicate what they did successfully for my company.”
Developer and data scientist Dan Ross-Li wants to help event hosts receive their fair share of secondary revenue for tickets that are scalped and sold above face value.
That’s why he launched Affinna, an event ticketing and fan engagement platform that offers ticket booking and selling services for event organizers, creators, and event hosts to build more meaningful relationships with their authenticated fans, enabling those fans to book tickets at low, transparent fees.
“We provide a powerful solution to address ticket profiteering to help events maintain their brand value,” says Ross-Li. “Our resale solution will allow our customers for the first time to address ticket scalping and derive revenue from resale transactions.”
Ross-Li and his team plan to use the $25,000 Vogt Awards funding for continued product development and improvement, to improve UI/UX, and for marketing to gain customer traction and market development.
“The Vogt Awards is a well-known and well-regarded program, and I wanted to be part of the Louisville startup community,” he says. Through participation in this unique accelerator program, “I hope to increase my knowledge of launching a successful startup.”