Indy Chamber Hosts Second Annual Pitch Competition for Ex-Offenders

‘KITe’ Web and Mobile App Takes Top Prize

On Wednesday evening, the Indy Chamber and Business Ownership Initiative’s ReEntry Entrepreneurship Development Initiative (REDi) hosted its second public pitch competition for ex-offenders in Central Indiana. REDi, funded by CICF Community Crime Prevention grant and the SBA, addresses the likely connection between entrepreneurship and reducing the rate of recidivism by providing technical business training and education to incarcerated and formerly-incarcerated individuals.

In the three years since REDi’s inception, the initiative has served nearly 400 participants through a variety of workshops that assist in the business planning process or by providing one-on-one coaching. REDi’s Pitch Night provides an opportunity for the larger community to join the Indy Chamber in supporting and celebrating five budding entrepreneurs who were selected to compete for $2,500 and a package of professional services.

This year’s pitch competition was hosted at Launch Indy, and Kenny McKinney served as the event’s emcee. McKinney won the competition in 2018 with his company Promise Credit Solutions, a credit repair agency that also works with clients on financial literacy. McKinney continues to receive business coaching through REDi.

The 2019 four finalists were:

1. Dominique Campbell of FH THE BRAND

A small business that specializes in photography, graphic design and digital art.

2. Eric Dycus of Dycus Vision Production LLC

A multimedia company providing videos, graphics, and marketing tools.

3. Earl Johnson of Earl Shines LLC

A consumer service-based business that focuses on shoe restoration and minor shoe repairs.

4. Mark Harsley of KITe

A web and mobile application that allows families to register accounts for their incarcerated loved ones to easily compose and share messages, as well as, upload and send pictures.

Congratulations to Mark Harsley for taking home this year’s top prize consisting of $2500 and a package of professional services from in-kind sponsors. Second place prize went to Earl Johnson offering a package of professional services as well.

Harsley, a graduate and employee of local coding school Kenzie Academy, developed KITe during his time at Kenzie. While Harsley has developed the MVP, he has recently been accepted into the Social Enterprise Accelerator at Launch Indy and will continue to refine his product until it’s ready for launch.

To learn more about the REDi program, visit indychamber.com/redi or contact the REDi Program Manager, Neil Metzger at nmetzger@businessownership.org.

Sponsorship was generously provided by: