“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk." — Thomas Edison
- Teenager vs. Sharks
- Podcast: Data inclusion
- Ghost kitchens
- Meet Schnucks' robot Tilly
- Midwest's robust tech job market
- Virtual STL Startup Week
- Fueling the Future
- Name that Flyover City!
November 5, 2020
Cincy high school freshman lands deal on Shark Tank
Image from ABC's YouTube
A fifteen-year-old Cincinnati high school freshman and his father have landed an equity deal on the hit ABC show “Shark Tank.” Carson Grill and his dad Jason Grill won a $150,000 investment from Blake Mycoskie, one of the “sharks” and the founder of Tom’s. The Grills invented a plastic storage cup for paint called Touch Up Cup. Their company is on track to log $400,000 in sales in 2020.
Touch Up Cup elegantly solves a common household problem: how to store paint. Once a paint can has been opened, it’s hard to get it to seal properly, causing the paint to go bad or the can to get rusty. Touch Up Cup keeps paint in a handy plastic cup with a metal spring inside. Just give the can a shake and you’re ready to do some touch-up painting.
All the sharks were impressed with Carson, who wowed them with his business acumen. Even before their Shark Tank appearance, the father-son duo had found success, getting deals with Walmart and Home Depot to sell their product. Besides Touch Up Cup, the inventors hold three design patents for other types of storage containers.
Wondering how to pitch a product? You can see the 15-year-old wunderkind in action on Shark Tank by clicking here.
Dr. Sharon Kerrick is disrupting tech education and teaching teenagers to make bots. Alisia McClain is creating programs for women of color to make apps and pursue careers in technology. In this week's Innovators podcast, both of these women tell host Ben Reno-Weber, from Louisville's Future of Work Initiative, the same thing - it is time for EVERYONE to jump into the data revolution.
Diverse backgrounds and decades in business have taught both guests that big changes in data will take more than giving people of different backgrounds access to the field. It will also require technology to reinvent and rebrand itself as a creative field.
Kroger partners with tech startup ClusterTruck
COVID has forced closures of countless brick-and-mortar venues and put food service employees out of work. A growing trend might offer a bit of salvation: ghost kitchens.
This is a perfect niche for Indy-based ClusterTruck, a tech startup that has been providing delivery-only food service. Now, in collaboration with Kroger, it will be operating ghost kitchens inside the grocer’s stores. The first location recently opened in Fishers, IN. Another kitchen will be opening soon in Dublin, OH.
Kroger says the kitchens will occupy about 1,000 square feet of repurposed space, with on-demand online ordering available from a menu of more than 80 meals. It describes the ClusterTruck offerings as “food quality you can get at a sit-down restaurant with the personality of street food.”
Schnucks expands its fleet of Tally robots
St. Louis-based grocery retailer Schnuck Markets has been using an autonomous inventory management robot named Tally since it first piloted the technology in 2017. Now the company has expanded the use of the robot to 46 additional stores—bringing the current number of Tally-equipped locations to 62.
Tally, produced by Simbe Robotics, can navigate an entire store as many as three times a day, scanning roughly 35,000 products each trip through. And thanks to its sensors—almost 40 of them—it has 360-degree situational awareness and can avoid obstacles in its path. No collisions with shoppers, staff, or a teetering pyramid of Froot Loops.
Virtual conference will celebrate and support St. Louis entrepreneurs
Founders, investors, and innovators, mark your calendars! STL Startup Week is just around the corner, with a rich lineup of virtual workshops and events, along with opportunities to network with other entrepreneurs and business owners. Startup Week, which debuted last year, runs from November 9th to the 13th.
Participants can take advantage of more than 50 sessions, with topics ranging from women entrepreneurs to geospatial technology, funding, and STEM. You can view the schedule here and register to receive updates.
Tech startups are booming in the Midwest
The Midwest has caught fire as a mecca for tech startups. With a low cost of living and 25% of the nation’s computer science grads, the region is experiencing strong growth and a robust employment market for tech workers. In three of the region’s cities, tech hiring is up more than 100% over three years.
Chicago, Detroit, and Minneapolis lead the way, with about 800,000 overall tech jobs, but Kansas City, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indianapolis, and Milwaukee are all hot on their heels. In Chicago, Detroit, and Indianapolis, there are always about 31,000 tech jobs open at any given time. Other hot cities include Des Moines and Omaha, which has had a 137% increase in new job postings in one year.
What is fueling Flyover Country innovation? In this weekly feature, we share a variety of announcements covering funding, acquisitions, exits, grants, and everything in between. Got something to celebrate? Click here to share your story.
It's time for our favorite trivia game!
- What city boasts the largest half-marathon in the U.S.?
- William Potts is credited with inventing the three-lens traffic light. In what city did he live?
- The practice of luxury hotels putting a chocolate under the pillows of their guests began in what city?
Click here for today's answers.
Share stories, offer suggestions, or send comments!