USAA’s 100th Anniversary Pitch Competition comes to a spectacular finale on November 10th, in San Antonio, Texas. There, six regional event winners and four wild card competitors will take the stage to compete for $190,000 in total prize money, including a $100,000 grand prize, $50,000 and $25,000 prizes to second and third place, and a $15,000 prize to the audience favorite.
We took a moment to catch up with all six regional event winners and four wild cards competitors to talk about their experience in the competition so far, what’s new with their venture, and how they’ve been preparing for the finale in San Antonio.
Update: Finals Winners Announced!
Bunker Labs’ year-long USAA 100th Anniversary “From Service to Startup” Pitch Competition has come to a close. Candelytics took home the $100,000 grand prize winner with their innovative web-based 3D data management platform. CEO Clark Yuan previously won the Chicago regional pitch competition, and while an army veteran, is currently engaged in projects with the US Air Force to automate object detection on airfields and assist with preventative maintenance.
In true Cinderella-story fashion, wildcard standout competitor from the Charlotte regional pitch competition Ray Antonino and Permits.com earned second place and $50,000 in prize money for their software that connects nearly 20,000 different permitting offices through a single user interface. Washington DC regional pitch competition winner Duality Systems and CEO Laurel Chiaramonte won third prize, taking home $25,000 for their healthcare scheduling app. The crowd favorite was Chicago regional pitch competition runner-up Gabriela Bell’s Organized Q virtual executive assistant company, earning her $15,000 in prize money.
The Regional Winners
Austin Regional Winner: Kevin Goldstein & Fluid Intelligence LLC
Fluid Intelligence’s WaterCuff system puts you in control of your water consumption, and protects your property by warning you about leaking pipes before they cause catastrophic water damage through the use of algorithmic analysis of user data.
Los Angeles Regional Winner: Samantha Snabes & re:3D Inc
re:3D® Inc. is committed to decimating the cost & scale barriers to industrial 3D printing. After pioneering the world’s first affordable, human-scale 3D printer, re:3D is now enabling 3D printing directly from virgin and/or recycled plastic filament, pellets or flake- that’s right we are printing HUGE objects from garbage!
Washington DC Regional Winner: Michael Chiaramonte & Duality Systems, Inc
Duality Systems is an energetic team of healthcare professionals, data scientists, and technologists who recognize an acute need to revolutionize scheduling and processes to reduce employee burnout and turnover by improving everyone’s work-life balance. For the finals event in San Antonio, Laurel Chiaramonte, founder and owner of Duality Systems, will be giving the pitch personally.
Chicago Regional Winner: Clark Yuan & Candelytics
Candelytics is building a web-based 3D data management platform that allows users to easily visualize, analyze, and share 3D images to better understand the physical world.
Seattle Regional Winner: Kris Sandor & Readyly
Readyly is an “all-in-one” customer support solution for small and mid-sized companies that combines Enterprise-grade SaaS and AI-powered outsourced agents in an affordable, no-code platform.
Charlotte Regional Winner: Gavin Baum-Blake & City Detect
City Detect uses cameras and AI to automatically assess the exterior condition of real estate. City Detect provides property, neighborhood, and city level analytics including trends on curb appeal, urban decay, and gentrification. The data is updated weekly and is significant to both public and private organizations. City Detect launched in early 2021 and has 4 paying and 2 non-paying pilot customers.
The Wild Card Competitors
Charlote Regional Runner-Up: Bob Denaro and Wingdriver Inc
WingDriver supports driver safety by avoiding accidents with next-level Computer Vision and AI designed for smartphones. WingDriver is a B2B solution that allows any company to implement driver distraction and drowsiness detection and warning, and other functions, with our technology in their apps using our SDK or by deploying our white label app for their customers. This is the next generation of Usage-Based Insurance, now able to assess actual driver risk.
Charlotte Regional Standout: Ray Antonino and Permits.com
Getting a permit is time-consuming. Access to information is fragmented. Requirements differ from one municipality to the next and inquiry calls yield conflicting answers. Permits require in-person visits, paper forms, and waiting in line. Consequences for not getting permits or failing to properly close permits, include license forfeiture, fines, rework, lost opportunities, and delayed real estate closings.
Permits.com technology allows companies to manage permits, inspections, and license credentials for light commercial and residential construction at 19,655 building departments in the U.S.
Chicago Regional Runner-Up: Gabriela Bell and Organized Q
Organized Q provides Virtual Executive Assistants (vEA’s) to small business owners, executives, and social impact organizations. Organized Q aids clients with effective communication management, business correspondence, scheduling, task management, and overall business support. Organized Q seamlessly integrates into client teams to help save them time and money, maximize efficiency, and focus on growing business. Organized Q’s social impact mission is in providing flexible remote work to military spouses, veterans, and under-employed professionals.
Austin Regional Runner-Up: Sergio Rodriguera Jr. and Straylight Systems
Straylight Systems is an advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) company that automates code and software development to help businesses and engineers instantly get documented, tested, secure, and configurable code.
On the Road to San Antonio
We were lucky enough to check in with the regional winners about their experience in the pitch competition so far!
Bunker Labs: What did it mean for you and your team to win your regional event?
- Clark Yuan, Candelytics: It was very exciting to win the Chicago regional event. Our team was grateful to be selected and have the opportunity to compete against and witness other tremendous veteran and veteran spouse-founded startups. The fact that we are also deeply considering the insurance industry as our beachhead market made it that much more meaningful to receive thoughtful feedback from USAA’s insurance professionals.
- Samantha Snabes, re:3D Inc: I was personally shocked to learn that we won! I showed up en route from a military commitment as a hot mess carrying a lot of luggage. I’d been feeling the pandemic pressure of figuring out Field Grade Officer commitments and balancing being a CEO rather imperfectly. In addition to being unprepared and exhausted for the pitch competition, my consternation & embarrassment was evident on stage when I realized I’d emailed the wrong pitch deck for the event and I was struggling mentally to meet the time hack with the draft slides! I was personally voting for, and ready to high five, the other deserving companies that presented. How and why we were chosen is a huge mystery and honor! What was not presented was the competition occurred during what will be remembered as one of the darkest times in re:3D’s history. We were just beginning to experience huge supply chain delays coupled with attrition (from teammates who secured their dream jobs during the pandemic-yea!) + increasing demand from industrial leaders with longer payment terms. For our team, community and myself winning was a huge validator to continue the road less traveled, especially when each day seems so hard!
Bunker Labs: What have you gotten out of your experience with the USAA Pitch Competition so far, and what do you hope to get out of the Finals?
- Clark Yuan, Candelytics: Our team has made valuable connections with investors, insurance stakeholders, and other competitors. Specifically, we got the opportunity to speak with several insurance customers; we were able to create better user stories that tied to our product as a result of these interviews. The judges were also thoughtful and critical with their feedback, which gave us an opportunity to rethink some of our go-to-market strategies. At the finals, we hope to find commercial partners, especially in the insurance industry, to conduct proof-of-concept pilots with. Commercial partners will help Candelytics observe our technology’s value in helping end-users make better decisions from 3D data analytics.
- Samantha Snabes, re:3D Inc: Unfortunately, the community didn’t get to appreciate the immense value the pitch coaching provided because of our slide deck issues, but the coaching resulted in us winning a tentative $1.7M contract from the Army as well as a NASA award! Additionally, I’ve personally struggled mentally with the setbacks & challenges re:3D experienced this year, so the competition was a huge blessing as I have been craving interactions with veteran entrepreneurs and the Bunker community!
- Kevin Goldstein, Fluid Intelligence LLC: Yes, we’ve gotten so much! Contacts, meetings, and discussions with potential business partners. At the finals we’re hoping to open critical business connections with potential market partners, users, and investors.
- Laurel Chiaramonte, Duality Systems, Inc: We definitely got the word out to a wider audience about our company, our focus, and our solution. We always value new connections to potential customers, industries, users, and partners; so, helping spread the word about our company, our advanced scheduling solutions, and our focus on reducing burnout / improving work-life balance through the smart use of technology to bigger audiences is a significant benefit. The USAA / Bunker Labs team has a fantastic, supportive network!
- Kris Sandor, Readyly: Yes, we got so much! It has helped us get on the radar of Bunker Labs for additional resources and support, and just the exposure to other companies and entrepreneurs in the Bunker Labs community.
- Gavin Baum-Blake, City Detect: The regional competition was a fantastic opportunity to network with fellow veteran founders and industry leaders. In San Antonio, we hope to network with insurance professionals and investors who have insights on how City Detect can address the needs of the insurance market.
- Bob Denaro, Wingdriver Inc.: We were very excited that Darrius Jones of USAA, and one of the judges, approached me after my pitch and second place win at the Charlotte regional competition and expressed his strong agreement with our proposition that current usage-based insurance (UBI) is a poor proxy for what is really going on with the driver, and that is what WingDriver fixes. He introduced me to Neff Hudson and asked Neff to follow up with me to discuss possible further collaboration. Neff has not contacted me yet, but we look forward to that discussion. Obviously the $5k second place award is welcome help for funding our current operations. Also, we publicized our second-place win on LinkedIn and we received over 30 comments from colleagues including some potential small investors. At the finals in San Antonio, WingDriver hopes to form additional relationships with investors as well as directly with key individuals at USAA, since our product is the next evolution of UBI for automotive consumers and commercial operators. In addition, Bunker Labs/USAA promotion of the event, as well as our own promotion, will create broader exposure and publicity for WingDriver, hopefully generating more business opportunities and investment potential. We know our market, and we know how significant and disruptive our product is, and we just need to secure the financing necessary to take our vision to reality and success for everyone which most importantly includes significant reduction of accidents and fatalities on our roadways.
- Ray Antonino, Permits.com: The regional event allowed me to reconnect with friends that I had not seen since before Covid and meet some new ones. At the finals, we’re hoping to gain some exposure with the decision-makers of national brands that have the potential to support our continued growth trajectory of $2.5M in revenue for 2023.
- Gabriela Bell, Organized Q: I was able to connect with old friends at the Chicago regional event, and at the finals I’d like Organized Q to gain more traction.
- Sergio Rodriguera Jr., Straylight Systems: Participating in the Austin Regional event was superb. In fact, it was the first live event that we had ever done since we launched our company in November 2021—we spent most of 2021 doing Zoom calls and building our product. In San Antonio, we hope to bring awareness to those in the banking, financial services, and insurance sectors of the advanced capabilities that Intelligent Automation can deliver to accelerate data engineering and real ROI.
Bunker Labs: Has anything changed with your venture since winning?
- Clark Yuan, Candelytics: Candelytics has built a fully functional product and we have piloted our technology with the US Air Force at MacDill Air Force Base and Joint-Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst, the US Navy at Port Hueneme in Los Angeles, and commercial shipping companies in Newport, Rhode Island. Our team has also been selected as a winner for the America’s DataHub Innovation Challenge at the Defense TechConnect Summit in DC and we are preparing to launch three commercial pilots within the insurance industry.
- Samantha Snabes, re:3D Inc: We’re struggling to balance unexpected demand. While we are super thankful, if we are being honest it’s been tough juggling scaling needs at this critical inflection point. Due to supply chain disruption, we have unprecedented inbound interest for our hardware & services. Additionally, we are honored to share for the first time that we have secured or in the down-select for multiple research contracts that support R&D needed to support community requests for feature development., which generated some buzz. Finally, we couldn’t be more humble to announce our 4th outpost in Boston thanks to our friends at Austodesk!
- Kevin Goldstein, Fluid Intelligence LLC: We have continued system development and testing, and are working with a multi-unit condo facility in Key Biscayne for a pilot site deployment.
- Laurel Chiaramonte, Duality Systems, Inc: We’ve been fortunate enough to win a Phase III SBIR (follow-on contract) from the US Air Force to adapt our scheduling solution to missileers. We also have continued a challenging, but rewarding, proof of value with Intermountain Health System to schedule their Advanced Practice Providers in NICUs across their system, and we’ve brought several new health systems and DoD customers into our sales pipeline.
- Kris Sandor, Readyly: Readyly continues to build out our customer support as a service for startups and fast-growth SMBs. We’ve expanded into the e-commerce and logistics technology spaces.
- Gavin Baum-Blake, City Detect: We have been developing the next iteration of our camera and AI systems.
- Bob Denaro, Wingdriver Inc.: WingDriver has been most active in three areas. The first is on-schedule completion of the software for our salable product, our SDK. We have had an MVP as a dedicated smartphone app, and now that has been ported to an SDK that can be integrated into our customers’ existing driver support apps. The second activity is moving the ball forward with traction with our current customers. We are excited to identify a disruptive early revenue opportunity with automating driver training for commercial and consumer drivers. Our first customer is the Portuguese Road Authority (PRP) who provides mandatory commercial motor vehicle (CMV) training throughout Europe. WingDriver’s driver monitoring solution provides significant value to their current operations and data analysis capability. This opportunity was sufficiently compelling to have global navigation leader TomTom request to partner with us for this opportunity. This will create an integrated product with TomTom which is then ready for deployment to their enormous consumer navigation customer base as well. The other exciting traction is with an automotive insurance company who is very successful in serving the gig driver market—Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, etc. Their drivers are already using a smartphone for navigation and ride management and the insurer wants a better assessment of driver risk than with current UBI. The third activity involves a series of meetings with two key VCs who are good fits for our business to secure a pre-seed financing round to sustain and grow our business. We are discussing bridge financing as well.
- Ray Antonino, Permits.com: We broke through $1M in ARR for the first time ever. We increased our partnership with Ulrich Lifestyle to cover their expansion into five more states. We also signed up two more exclusive partnerships with BOSS Homes and Vessel Houses, manufacturers of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) to provide permitting and code compliance for their customers. We deployed our technology within Made Renovation (a VC-backed kitchen and bath remodeler) to track and manage all of their subcontractor’s licenses and permits nationally. As of today, we successfully kicked off Day 1 of our 1st Annual PERMITCON—an event created to bring in our entire team from across the U.S. for a 3-day retreat in Myrtle Beach, SC. This is the first time that we have ever met our fellow teammates in person. Investors and longtime champions are coming in as well.
- Gabriela Bell, Organized Q: Organized Q completed our 4th round of hiring for the year, I was accepted into the Goldman Sachs 10K Small Business program, and I turned in my manuscript for an anthology project I am a part of that documents how Organized Q was founded.
- Sergio Rodriguera Jr., Straylight Systems: We’re focused on continuing product development, improving automated capabilities, and onboarding new channel partners and customers. I also joined Bunker Labs’ CEOcircle program, powered by JPMorgan Chase.
Bunker Labs: What are you doing to prepare for the Finals?
- Clark Yuan, Candelytics: Candelytics has been diligently collecting user feedback to improve our product user interface. We have also been busy demonstrating our technology in the commercial mining, shipping, and urban planning industries to explore market entry points outside of the government.
- Samantha Snabes, re:3D Inc: After seeing the finalist list, I think it’s a long shot for us. Coupled with the insanity of re:3D’s scaling needs + military PME during PTDO orders this hurricane season I regret not having the bandwidth to fully prep & leverage the Bunker community to best share re:3D’s mission & goals.
- Kevin Goldstein, Fluid Intelligence LLC: We’ve been engaging with prospective customers to solidify traction, and improve system design. We’ve also expanded intellectual property protection for system improvements.
- Laurel Chiaramonte, Duality Systems, Inc: I’ve been fine tuning our pitch to reflect our current traction and vision. Our inspiration (reducing burnout and turnover among healthcare providers) has definitely become more focused, since the problem in the U.S. is bigger and more troubling than ever.
- Kris Sandor, Readyly: Readyly has been building new technology to demonstrate our AI and automation capabilities, which we hope to highlight at the finale.
- Gavin Baum-Blake, City Detect: We have been working with advisors and preparing materials and demos to include in the pitch.
- Bob Denaro, Wingdriver Inc.: The most direct preparation is studying the evaluation criteria and organizing our pitch to clearly address each item. For example, we are doing a deeper dive into our competition, which was not a subject of the regional competition, to be able to clearly differentiate our business to them. Indirectly, we are working hard to get contacts in place with customers to demonstrate the market need and our traction.
- Ray Antonino, Permits.com: Truth… I’ve been focused on my business.
- Gabriela Bell, Organized Q: I have been using the past feedback to enhance my pitch.
- Sergio Rodriguera Jr., Straylight Systems: We have been focused on attracting new customers, but thinking through the best way to showcase our AI-powered Intelligent Automation platform
Ready For Your Opportunity?
Several of the winners participated in a Bunker Labs program ahead of their experience in the USAA 100th Anniversary Pitch Competition. Samantha Snabes is in the current CEOcircle cohort, Kevin Goldstein is in the Veterans in Residence 22B Cohort in Philadelphia, and Kris Sandor is part of our new Fetch Rewards Corporate Advisory initiative. Bunker Labs programs helped many of the competitors get ready to take advantage of this opportunity, and others like it.
We can help you take your business to the next level, too! Explore our programs and fill out an interest form to get notified when applications open, and get ready for your chance to launch and grow your business!