FirstIgnite lights up TCNewTech | Business

TRAVERSE CITY – FirstIgnite turned off the challenge of a last-second entry to win TCNewTech’s monthly pitch night competition.

Traverse City’s FirstIgnite won the audience vote to win the grand prize of $ 500 sponsored by 4Front Credit Union.

Co-founder and CEO Chase Bonhag pitched FirstIgnite, which could also be seen on the stage of the City Opera House in the first quarter of 2019. FirstIgnite officially closed the Y Combinator Startup Accelerator in summer 2020 and recently obtained a seed round from investors, said Jennifer Szunko, Executive Director of TCNewTech.

“He pitched a few years ago in the early stages of his business,” said Szunko. “He had made some progress and was further.”

FirstIgnite “brings companies together with university experts to solve their toughest scientific problems,” according to a press release. Companies describe their problem and “are matched with university experts for paid consultations”.

FirstIgnite was able to displace two other moderators at the event.

“It was a close race,” said Szunko. “All three parking spaces were really good.”

Second place went to Gordon Briley from Briley Fitness. Briley was recruited on the afternoon of October 2nd after BrandXR’s scheduled host Mahmoud “Moody” Mattan was forced to cancel late after a scheduling conflict with an investor meeting.

Briley worked on his presentation over the weekend, met with TCNewTech board presidents Kelly Ignace and Szunko on October 4th, and almost won the event on October 5th.

“We helped him shape his pitch and calm him down because he was so nervous,” Szunko said of Briley. “He did a great job.”

Briley Fitness, based in Traverse City, uses an “innovative semi-autonomous multi-purpose rover,” according to a press release. Briley has one full and two provisional patents on fitness industry products, Szunko said.

The third moderator was Craig Tucker, Co-Founder and CEO of VERN Health. A recent participant in XlerateHealth Demo Day at Flint, VERN’s artificial intelligence that “cuts the time it takes to analyze emotions in communication” and uses technology to “improve a computer’s understanding of human emotional communication,” according to the Company website.

The pitch night began with a “Quick Tip” presentation from Matt Bower of Varnum Attorneys At Law in Grand Rapids. Bower’s theme was “Finding Capital with Finders: Avoiding Problems for Your Business”.

Jay Meldrum will also give a brief presentation on the establishment of the Michigan Technological University Traverse City workspace.

“We had a large audience at the opera house,” said Szunko. “The audience and the moderators had a lot of energy. The program ran really fast. “

The next TCNewTech Pitch Night is planned for November 2nd.

For more information on the next event or to apply for future pitch nights, visit or email Szunko at [email protected]

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