Cute Nation, a local brand that plans to sell customizable dolls via a free gaming app, won the $1,000 grand prize at Thursday evening’s PitchBR competition.
Founder Leah Haight edged out Noble Wave—a socially conscious brewpub and pizzeria that plans to open next fall in the Electric Depot—and Pojman Polymer Products, which manufactures fast-drying clay for art, crafts and home repairs, to win the top prize.
Users of the Cute Nation app would be able to select features like hair, eye and skin color for their dolls, which they could then order through an in-app purchase and have shipped to their homes in a week.
Haight, a self-described fan of Hello Kitty, says the Cute Nation brand is inspired by doe-eyed dolls and toys of Japanese pop culture. She promotes the brand as an alternative to the highly popular Bratz and Monster High dolls that some parents may find to be inappropriate for young girls.
“I just love the aesthetic—the Japanese aesthetic,” she said. “Nothing on the toy market ever really appealed to me, and I thought that this look was just too cute. It invokes the feeling of love because it’s associated with being the proportions of a baby’s face.”
PitchBR judges said the brand has potential to grow.
Haight said she needs at least $160,000 in funding to get through her first year. She plans to price the dolls from $14.95 to $19.95 and hopes to move 60,000 units within three years. The prize money, she says, will likely be used to pay consultants.
In other news, Noble Wave has confirmed its plans to open in the Electric Depot, a mixed-use development planned at the old Entergy site on Government Street. Construction on the craft microbrewery will begin later this year, according to a new release. The brewpub will have seating for more than 100 customers, a second-floor mezzanine overlooking the bar, covered outdoor patio and retro-futuristic décor. All brews will be made on site and the menu will include New York-style pizza sold by the slice or in 18-inch pies.
Founders Riley Vannoy and Karl Schultz, who are still seeking investors, have marketed the brewpub as a conscious capital business that will direct 50% of all tips toward a foundation that supports the community.