No Losers at GRIT 2023’s Startup Stage Business Pitch Contest

What exactly does a loser look like? 

I used to think it was the opposite of a winner. A person that failed to succeed or place in a competition. Someone with a weak pitch or who couldn’t overcome a persistent fear. Something like public speaking, imposter syndrome, or any other host of things that keep us up at night. 

Sade Shofidiya took thrid place for her startup BEEnevolent.

But there were no losers at the GRIT startup stage a few weeks ago. Remember, this part of the conference was a business pitch competition. Finalists showcased their work to a panel of judges for a chance at $10,000 in cash and prizes as sponsored by the Advanced Technology Development Center. And it was a tough competition, because we saw some amazing work from all of the contestants, including:

Melanie DeFilippis for Oro Maternal Health Inc.

Sade Shofidiya for BEEnevolent

Adam Tsang and Jim Paul Walker for The Whiskey Grail

Rodeline Joseph for Medsembly

Deborah McIncrow for PillowSak, LLC

Kirkland Brooks for Febris

Malcolm Brown for WorkCEO

There were three spots that competitors could attain after facing the panel. With seven contestants, that meant four would be going home with nothing. 

Rodeline Joseph won Startup Stage with Medsembly.

I spoke with two of our participants that ended up placing in the final rounds. Rodeline Joseph with Medsembly placed first, and Adam Tsang and Jim Paul Walker took second place for The Whisky Grail. (Hyperlink back to old article I wrote interviewing Jim Paul). 

Medsembly works as a platform to provide healthcare workers with mentorship opportunities And the win meant a lot for CEO Rodeline Joseph. 

“Saying I was nervous was an understatement,” she says. “I was one of the last companies to pitch, so the entire time, I was talking to myself, trying to calm down and not psych myself out.”

She continues, saying, “But, at the same time, I was giving myself a pep-talk and was my own hype-man. Speaking positivity really made a difference. I got on that stage and brought my A-game.”

Medsembly’s next step is to focus on growth. They’re hoping to get their tool into the hands of their target customers as soon as possible. Remember that time? Of still getting excited to have someone else participate in your dreams? 

I liked how Whiskey Grail’s Adam Tsang put the feeling he had on his company placing in the competition. 

Adam Tsang and John Paul Walker took second with Whiskey Grail.

“Winning the award was extremely validating,” he says. He and his partner Jim Paul have been working on developing Whiskey Grail for over two years. 

“The work has just begun[sic],” he explains. “We still have a lot of ground to cover, and we’ll keep our heads down and keep moving along.”

And I think that leads to the final conversation about what a loser is. A loser is someone who let’s another person tell them that their product isn’t good and quits trying to improve it. Someone who let’s other people’s opinions keep them from ever trying. A person that tries to please others without focusing on what’s important to them. 

When you look at losing like that, it’s pretty obvious that all of the contestants at GRIT ‘23  were winning before they even stepped on the stage.