1 Million Cups 8/24/2016

Insight! That was the name of the game at 1 Million Cups on Wednesday, August 24th. The community both gave insight, and gained it by listening to the pitches by Laura and Laramie. Both products are in beta (or, in Laura’s case, still being researched), but the community was still able to learn from where their companies stood… on stage.

Laura Motta-Mena took the stage first to pitch Optologix, “maker of Eco-friendly, light-driven research tools.” The presentation was technical. (Think: laser pointers.) But, at the end of the presentation and Q&A and feedback, the community learned something.

Here’s LaunchDFW’s attempt at understanding the pitch (deep breaths, people!): Doctors know what causes diseases. They know what gene is affected by the disease. Drugs (chemicals) are used by doctors to try to cure diseases. But they’re toxic, don’t just hit the gene in question, and often cause other side effects on other genes.  Optologix uses light, an Eco-friendly alternative. Light is used to effect changes on specific genes, which eliminates the need for chemical alternatives that affect more than just the gene. Laura, in her attempt to explain this to a high school student, gave the example of a plant being drawn to a light source for growth and development. The “stuff” (i.e. photosensors) in plants/organisms that are drawn to light exist in people too. Optologix studies the connection between plants and humans and pitched their product called Lite Switch, which directs light sources to genes turning them on and off. (When Laura was talking about “gene expression” she was talking about turning genes on and off.)

Pitching at 1 Million Cups, to a non-biotech audience, was an incredible opportunity for Laura. The insight that she was able to gain from the community in how to talk about her product outside her medical bubble was super impactful to the launch of Lite Switch.

Laramie Mergerson, on the other hand, has been pitching Dangle for the past year. It’s the award-based platform for parents with 8-15 year old kids. Mergerson was able to shed some light on some of the struggles that he has faced in the beta launch of his product. To back the entrepreneurial story up, Laramie leveraged his experience in the US Navy to solve a problem for parents trying to stay engaged with their children’s upbringing from afar… which can oftentimes be from within the same house (if you know what we mean). His product, a dual-app geared towards parents, teaches children good life lessons (like goal setting, time management, and, oh yeah, responsibility), while also meeting the changing times of intrinsic “you’ll listen to me just ‘cause” to extrinsic “do this and you’ll get X” parenting. Laramie was able to point out the business fundamentals of his premium product by sharing that his partner brands did not want to devalue themselves by making their discounts free to the public. The premium model was created to help maintain brand standards, while also increasing the value that he is able to provide to his users. If your kid is motivated by a trip to TopGolf, wouldn’t you want to be able to go more regularly for less? Yeah… did you Dangle yet? Try the beta. It’s all the help you need to do what’s best for your family. (Get it? Help.)

Catch more pitches next week at 1 Million Cups, every Wednesday at The DEC starting at 9 AM. And don’t forget to bring a friend, meet someone new, and/or try Kurtooo. Remember: The calories are free when you eat them standing up.


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.