Newtown Square-based social media startup LifeBrand recently went head to head with four other startups from across the country in a pitch competition hosted by investing company StartEngine — and walked away with $10,000 and a host of compliments from “Shark Tank’s” Kevin O’Leary aka Mr. Wonderful.
LifeBrand, which uses AI and machine learning technology to scrub the platforms of social media users for “harmful” posts, was chosen as a finalist from the more than 1,000 companies that applied. The startup offers B2B as well as B2C services: An individual can connect their social media platforms and run an audit on their own to see how many total potentially harmful posts they have shared over the years, or a company making a potential hire can do the same.
Founder and CEO Thomas Colaiezzi learned LifeBrand had made the final five just six days before he’d pitch the company “Shark Tank”-style on Sept. 25, he said.
“When we were first entering, just thinking about hearing [O’Leary] say our company’s name was going to be great, I thought, even if he’s bashing us,” Colaiezzi told Technical.ly about the acerbic investor. “But the fact that we then won, and that he had glowing things to say about us, that was great. You can go through a lot of low points as a startup, so this was a bright spot.”
Start Engine, which helps “everyday” people invest in startups and early growth companies, also heard from iPill Dispenser, a solution for opioids public policy; GoSun, which produces consumer solar appliances; PillowSheets, a lifestyle bedding startup; and Farmbox Foods, which produces vertical hydroponic farms.
At the event, O’Leary said he ultimately chose LifeBrand as the winner because Colaiezzi nailed three key things in explaining what the company does in 90 seconds, why he was the right person to execute the business plan and how they beat out competitors.
“Is it a solution to a huge problem? Yes,” O’Leary said. “I have that in all of my companies. Every day I’m doing a constant search of what’s blowing up on social, and when it’s blowing up on social, it’s never good news.”
Colaiezzi walked away with $10,000 but also some inquiries from those who “attended” the event via livestream for possible investment opportunities or from those who were interested in becoming clients, he said. Although in the long run, $10,000 isn’t a huge sum — LifeBrand just raised $1 million in seed funding — it will allow the company to make two hires a little ahead of schedule.
While Colaiezzi said he has had time to refine the company’s pitch since the startup was founded last year, he thinks the tech truly speaks for itself.
“I think it really is a simple technology that people get right away,” he said. “I’m not trying to pitch something too hard, the tech speaks for itself, people just get it right away. It’s a simple problem and a simple solution.”