1 Million Cups 8/17/2016

Sometimes solving a problem isn’t as easy as identifying a problem and solving it. Two entrepreneurs took the stage on Wednesday, August 17th at 1 Million Cups to present their problems and subsequent solutions. One a product and the other a service, both recognized a need and made strides to meet it… though successful in their delivery the product is not yet solving the problem for the intended target population and the other is not yet launched. Who are the companies? Here’s the recap:

David Goodman took the stage first to present Coco Jack. The tagline says it all: “Safely open coconuts in seconds!” If you didn’t realize that this was a problem, you should try opening a coconut without a Coco Jack. Let us spare you the blood, guts, and gore: bloody hands, missing fingers, stab wounds. Sure it sounds like a good time, but wouldn’t you rather just drink the coconut water and eat the coconut meat (also known as “the other white meat”) fresh right from the young coconut that you can find in the supermarket? Coco Jack makes it easy with their Coco Jack Pack: Jack, Mallet, and Needler included. That’s enough of a promo, David is looking dead equity investors. Those are the kind of investors that just give money, but don’t actually get involved. Rare? Kind of. He wants to use the money invested ($5 Million) to get ahead of his inventory issues, marketing, and expansion.

Next up, Jarrod Atkinson. Jarrod took the stage “off the cuff” for his first ever presentation of WithContxt. (This is apparently Jarrod’s style.) Four minutes into his pitch, after we learned about his dog, grandmother with macular degeneration, and background in politics, Jarrod explained WithContxt as an app for people to challenge their friends to do actions. Think of it like an aggregator for “ice bucket challenge” type of actions: planking, saltine crackers, cinnamon spoons, gallons of milk… stupid human stuff. But, in context (pun intended), for a company, non-profit, or social group, these types of challenges make sense: walk 10,000 steps a day, drink 8-glasses of water, bike to work for a month, etc. Jarrod, essentially, created an app to keep people accountable and engage in the latest trend of activities. WithContxt is set to launch “soon,” so keep your ears open for updates.

Getting back to the problems being solved. Coco Jack safely opens coconuts in seconds. Yes, it’s a first world problem for all of those raw food dieters, but really? Developing countries. These are the people who are opening coconuts with machetes and who could really benefit from these tools to save their lives and make better use of their natural resources. Sometimes it takes some time to solve the problem for the people who need the problem to be solved. David is on his way, but needs quality connections (and an investment for inventory) to make this vision a reality.

WithContxt needs to clearly identify the problem that they’re solving so that it can be communicated, without question, to their intended users. As Einstein said, “a problem well put is half solved.”

Interested in more pitches? 1 Million Cups takes place every Wednesday morning at 9:00AM. Enjoy some coffee from Shade Tree Roasters and pastries from Kurtooo (oh yeah, and networking!) before pitches begin at 9:15AM.

Debra Swersky

Debra has spent her career building, scaling, and managing operations in start-up organizations. Companies such as Inside Sports & Entertainment Group, SCVNGR/LevelUp, Visible Measures, and High Start Group have used Debra’s enterprising energy to facilitate their exponential growth.