Dayton, Ohio – Local coffee entrepreneur Kait Brown, founder of craft decaf and half caffeine brand Savorista, won the University of Dayton Flyer Pitch competition and the grand prize of $25,000 cash and $25,000 of in-kind support from the Entrepreneurs Center through Ohio’s Entrepreneurial Services Provider program.
Brown, a Centerville native, was selected from among more than 50 teams that pitched ideas during the competition, one of the largest at the college level. Her team included University of Dayton 2020 accounting and entrepreneurship graduate Julia Harbach.
“The judges chose Savorista as the winner because the business plan was really well thought-out and Kait is already gaining traction in terms of sales,” said Vince Lewis, director of the university’s L. William Crotty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. “We look forward to Kait adding to Flyer Pitch’s successful legacy, which includes 71 businesses and $24.1 million of capital raised.”
Brown, whose first job was as a barista in Dayton, said the idea for Savorista was born during a time in her life when she was working a high-stress consulting job and her father was diagnosed with cancer.
“I realized the coffee I was drinking really amplified my stress,” she said. “I switched to decaf, but it was really terrible. This was the first time in my life I was drinking coffee only for the taste and I couldn’t find flavorful coffee. This idea wouldn’t let go of me: Could we do coffee with less caffeine that tastes delicious?”
Brown and her husband, Daniel, traveled around the world, including to Colombia and Ethiopia, to find the right coffee, and launched Savorista in 2018. The Flyer Pitch prize will help her expand the business, including more marketing, Brown said.
Flyer Pitch will begin accepting applications for the 2020-21 competition Oct. 4. The contest, which will be held virtually because of the pandemic, will expand thanks to new sponsors PNC Bank and an anonymous donor to award $112,000, including $20,000 in new prizes for social ventures that advance social justice and equity in the Greater West Dayton area where UD is opening a new business incubator.
The competition also has been revised. In the first round, judges will review all applications and select 10 teams to receive funding to research and flesh out their ideas. The next round will be a conversation with the judges; five teams will advance and receive a mentor.