LaunchNET helps entrepreneur win Pitch U


Photo courtesy of Madeline Zupko The founder of Endemic Solutions, LLC., and Kent State graduate, Shanice Cheatham poses for a portrait in Risman Plaza Saturday, Oct 22, 2016.

Madeline Zupko

The Burton D. Morgan Pitch U Competition awarded a Kent State public health graduate student $4,500 for her work helping to prevent infectious diseases.

Shanice Cheatham is the founder of Endemic Solutions, LLC, a company focused on finding solutions to fight infectious disease in underdeveloped countries.

Cheatham’s company is best known for its development of the Endemic Filtration Portable Handwashing System, meant to act as a source of clean water for healthcare workers that they can easily carry on their backs.

In 2015, at the age of 26, Cheatham began her journey starting Endemic Solutions. “I’m doing this because of my father,” she said.

Her father became ill with MRSA, a staph bacteria resistant to antibiotics and she said it is what really inspired her to begin all of this.

Cheatham said the prize from the Burton D. Morgan Pitch U Competition came at the right time because she needed additional funding to work on her prototype to get it to its next stages.

“The more I get done, the more valuable I’ll be,” she said.

Cheatham learned about the pitching competition through LaunchNET, a company designed to help entrepreneurs launch their ideas. LaunchNET adviser Tabitha Martin worked closely with Cheatham to get Endemic Solutions, LLC up and running.

“She’s very motivated and very smart — a lot of this she could have figured out. She’s always very gracious and says that she couldn’t have done it without (LaunchNET),” Martin said, “I don’t know anybody with a work ethic like hers added on top of a brain that I can’t even comprehend. Her work ethic is nonstop. I don’t know when she sleeps.”

Scott Shane, a professor from Case Western University, organized the competition and workshop for the Burton D. Morgan Competition. Shane witnessed Cheatham’s work ethic first hand and said she won for three main reasons: her idea, the style of her pitch and her personality. He said the way she carried herself was a key component.

“I think it was probably my best pitch I’ve ever done,” Cheatham said. “I’ve pitched so many times, and the more times you practice, the better you get at it. There were a few keen things that Scott taught me. I was able to take my experience, the key pointers from the workshop, and apply them (to the pitch).”

The most difficult part of being an entrepreneur has been being on her own, Cheatham said. She originally planned to pursue a career in orthopedics, but after her father’s illness she quickly changed her mind.

“When you’re the only one at the time who believes in what you’re doing, you have to continue to push through,” she said. “If you believe in it so much and you continue to push through all of the obstacles that’s in your way, eventually you’ll start to see the fruits of your labor … It’s never easy, it gets easier, but it’s still not easy.”

Madeline Zupko is a general assignment reporter, contact her at [email protected].