Marcus Lemonis, famous for his television appearances in the show “The Profit,” attended Summerfest Tech in Milwaukee, where he assumed the role of judge for the various startup pitches hoping to receive funding.
Lemonis is the CEO/chairman of Camping World Holdings Inc. (a multi-billion recreational vehicle company based in Illinois) and a graduate from Marquette University. In addition, he starred in a reality show called “The Profit.” The show revolves around helping businesses that struggle with staying afloat.
While at the Milwaukee event though, he was also the guest judge in the 5 Lakes Pitch Competition.
The 5 Lakes Contest
In the 5LPC, startups originating in the Great Lakes area seek to receive funding or publicity for them and their projects. Only startups that have gotten funding of less than $250,000 or generated revenue of under $500,000 are eligible to enter the competition.
Areas of interest to the contest include future of work, environmental technology, health, mobility, and advanced manufacturing. The team that takes first place will receive 7,500 dollars (equity-free) and in-kind services; second place gets 1,500 dollars, while both third and fourth are rewarded with 500 dollars each.
There were four startups that progressed all the way to the final rounds. Lemonis was the arbiter in the final rounds, and he listened to the pitches. After each presentation ended, he asked a series of follow-up questions and gave suggestions.
The inquiries and tips were asked and made to get an idea of how thought-out the pitchers’ strategies were. These questions were concerning their target customers, potential funding sources, competition, and similar key factors for any enterprise.
Overall, 35 companies entered the contest in hopes of winning one of the prizes, but only 10 made the cut. Out of the lot, first place went to a company called OneChart Health. OneChart Health is a Milwaukee-based health care startup that grants patients easy and fast access to their medical records. However, the second-place startup under the name Fiveable really got Lemonis’s attention.
This startup involves a live-streaming interactive platform that teachers can use to tutor students over the Internet. Namely, the idea impressed Lemonis to the point where he promised that he would personally finance it. He felt a great passion behind the project and believed in the good that it would do; thus he vowed to give 10,000 dollars to the budding company.
He had a few pointers for the team behind Fiveable. He pointed out that the scope of their intended audience — students in need of extracurricular support — could be broader. He suggested expanding the market to anyone wishing to learn about whatever interests them.