Five Tech Startups Compete for the $500 prize

On Tuesday, July 6, Ola Filter Corporation won TCNewTech’s Pitch event with its easy-to-use, ultra-affordable water filter. The Ola Filter uses proven ultrafiltration technology to remove bacteria from drinking water. Theresa Smith, Ola Filter’s co-creator, pitched in TCNewTech’s return to in-person events, which included live streaming on the TCNewTech Youtube Channel and Facebook Page. Ola Filter Corporation is a women-founded, triple bottom line social business focused on people, the planet, and profits to build true sustainability in a market of over two billion people worldwide in need of decontaminated drinking water. Ola Filter Corporation has roots in Ann Michigan, Oregon, and, Guatemala, where they’re currently implementing their filtration system.

Smith’s Ola Filter beat out three other companies to take home the $500 prize, sponsored by DGN Advisory. Other pitches included Marshall Downs of Sitedropp, Philip Hallstedt of, Steven Lenon of Vert9 Company, and Joe Gleason of genusConnect.

“The contest added a new level of excitement …Thank you for that.  I didn’t realize I had a life goal of winning a BIG CHECK on stage until it happened!”  

Theresa Smith, Co-founder, Ola Filter Corporation

All of the companies are at different stages of launch, yet all are seeking funding. Based in Benton Harbor, MI, Marshall Downs developed SiteDropp, an on-demand delivery service for the construction and home improvement industry. Philip Hallstedt pitched on his charging station designed to create a more sustainable future with their cutting-edge battery technology and charging infrastructure. Get Charged is based in Northport, MI. Steven Lenon of Vert 9 Company, a unique modular drone system based in Midland, MI also pitched. Joe Gleason of genusConnect pitched his idea for a content delivery and engagement platform for the healthcare market to connect families and community resources. genusConnect is based in Detroit, MI, with an investor coming from Traverse City, MI.

After the five finalists presented their startup companies to the hybrid audience, they participated in questions from the in-person audience members and waited for the votes from people online and in-person via SMS text messaging. The audience selected Ola Filter Corporation to take home the $500 prize sponsored by DGN Advisory!

TCNewTech is a nonprofit organization intended to energize a community of entrepreneurs by showcasing new tech ideas and facilitate connections at their monthly pitch contests with an end goal of expediting the launch of startups in Northern Michigan. Anyone with an entrepreneurial idea is encouraged to submit their ideas to TCNewTech. No idea is too big or too small – TCNewTech wants to hear it all! Anyone interested in connecting with any of the pitch presenters should contact Jennifer Szunko at

TCNewTech sponsors include Michigan Broadband Services, Susan Soffredine Rauser with State Farm Insurance, SCORE, Northern Michigan Angels, AccessPoint, and the Nielson Family Foundation.