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Indie Plate Takes Top Prize at Latest Pitch Night Event

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Baton Rouge-based food-delivery service Indie Plate’s plan to seek a regional presence in the rapidly growing meal-kit market took the $1,000 prize at the recent Baton Rouge Pitch Night event.

Indie Plate began as a grocery-delivery company, providing fresh, locally sourced produce, meats and other products to homes, but last year the company switched directions and jumped into the meal-kit delivery market.

Indie Plate has differentiated itself by offering food boxes with prepped and chopped ingredients to shorten cooking times for creating wholesome and flavorful meals at home — all while maintaining its commitment to source food from local sustainable producers. “The idea is when you get home at 8 o'clock on a weeknight, meals from your fridge to your table just takes a couple of minutes,” says co-founder and CEO Peru Sharma. “It’s fresh, it’s delicious, it’s healthy, it’s really easy.”

Sharma said Indie Plate is looking for venture capital to purchase software and equipment, fund more free trials and expand into the New Orleans and Lafayette markets. The company’s long-term goal is to be the leading meal kit delivery service in the Southeast United States.

Sharma detailed the company’s plans during the Pitch Night event along with two other local startups: Health Engagements, a chronic care management platform, and Amazing Kid’s Cabby, a transportation service specifically designed for children.

Health Engagements, a Louisiana Tech Park member that creates custom health care kits with devices such as blood pressure machines, wearable fitness trackers and glucose monitors to help hospitals and other care providers encourage patients to maintain their treatment programs in between doctor visits.

The devices collect data that is processed by the company’s software to give actionable information to health care providers that can help improve outcomes for patients with chronic medical conditions. “Doctors want to see the stuff that actually matters, the stuff that actually makes your health go up or down,” co-founder Vishal Vasanji says.

Vasanji says chronic conditions account for more than 85 percent of all health care spending in the U.S. The company's kits and data processing offer providers financial savings in the overall cost of care, he says. The company sees its initial customers as hospitals and other “Accountable Care Organizations,” as well as insurance companies, although it could market directly to consumers at some point, he says. “There is a huge opportunity for companies like us to come in and really make a difference in the health care system,” Vasanji says.

The other company to pitch its business plan at the event was Amazing Kid’s Cabby, which aims to offer safe, convenient and reliable transportation for children ages 5 and up in the Baton Rouge area.

The company wants to simplify the lives of parents by transporting children to and from destinations like school, tutoring, sports activities, day camps, dance classes and after-school care.

Founder Kuala Chambers says she decided to start the company after paying someone to sit with her daughter for an hour each morning because of conflicts between her work schedule and day-care drop-off times.

Amazing Kid’s Cabby will transport children in vans, with trained, professional drivers who are vetted through rigorous background checks. Parents will be able to schedule and pay for rides online and track the location of their children in real time.

Chambers says these aspects will differentiate her company from other ride-sharing services. “They all do not provide consistent drivers, they all are not trackable, they do not provide video recording in the vehicle, online payments, and they are not always child friendly,” Chambers says.

She says the company plans to launch in late August but hopes to secure funding to expand its operation.

The panel of three judges for the event were Innovation Catalyst CEO Louis Freeman Jr., Wendi Barnes, a director at LaPorte, and Jennifer Fowler, owner of Strategies by Design and manager of NexusLA’s Investment Readiness Program. After the three pitches, the judges deliberated and selected a winner.

Aside from competing for the prize money, pitchers at the event were able to get feedback from audience members, as well as coaching from prominent business consultants and successful entrepreneurs. It also gives them an opportunity to develop connections to non-funding resources, such as professional services donors and providers.

The event was sponsored and hosted by law firm Kean Miller, and the $1,000 prize was provided by LaPorte CPAs and Business Advisors.

Join us for the next PitchBR at Pelican House on Sept. 14.

Stephen Loy