The Mill, Bloomington’s center for entrepreneurship, announced today that rScan won the 2023 Crossroads Collegiate Pitch Competition. Co-founders Rod Baradaran and Dmitri Brown took home a $2,500 investment from Flywheel Fund and access to their network of investors and mentors.
rScan’s app simplifies the process of selling returned merchandise online. One of three products purchased online is returned, CEO Baradaran explained in the winning pitch. Retailers accumulate pallets of returns and sell 75% of it for pennies on the dollars. rScan’s technology cuts the time to post an item for sale from 30 minutes to under two, thus making it easier for members of the general public with extra storage space to participate in the $800 billion resale market. CTO Brown explained that the technology behind the app scans the UPC code, then uses a reverse lookup algorithm to gather detailed product information, which can then be customized. The product also includes a custom returns ERP system and uses a neural network algorithm to generate price comparisons.
“The Crossroads Collegiate program was a wonderful experience that brought together driven college entrepreneurs with exciting new ideas,” said Baradaran, a graduate student in the MBA program at Indiana University. “Winning the pitch competition is a great achievement for us and it provides a validation of the hard work that we have put into developing rScan. We will be using the prize money to expand our user base and add great new features that will take our app to the next level of success!”
Prior to founding rScan, Baradaran co-founded Midwest Bitcoin and grew that startup to over $1.5 million in revenue before being acquired. Brown, CTO of rScan, spent nine years working in natural gas trading and business development, building optimization algorithms for energy assets. rScan’s other cofounders include Ryan Ryker, Julian Marquez, and Michael Altenburger. COO Ryker is a business administration graduate of Ivy Tech and active member of the Startup South Bend – Elkhart Pre-Accelerator who previously led operations for Gryphon, a national apparel supply company. Marquez, Chief Evangelist, mostly recently worked at Jayco, Inc., building traditional and guerrilla marketing campaigns. Altenburger, a Notre Dame graduate, was an Innovation Fellow at Enfocus in South Bend and now runs an internal corporate startup development program in the healthcare field at Anthem.
rScan released their beta in 2023. The company plans to expand in 2024 to Indianapolis, the returns headquarters of the country. To date over 31,000 unique items have been scanned using rScan, representing $1.6 million in product value.
“Rod and Dmitry exemplify the startup spirit,” said Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming for The Mill, which produces the Crossroads pitch competitions. “They’ve identified a unique opportunity in a growing market, and built great technology to make that opportunity accessible.”
Bram Boyd, Program Manager for Crossroads, noted that this year’s competition included 39 contestants representing Indiana University, Ivy Tech Bloomington, Ivy Tech South Bend, Notre Dame, Purdue University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Taylor University, and Wabash College. “Crossroads Collegiate Pitch Competition is open to any student currently enrolled at any Indiana university or college with a startup based in Indiana,” said Boyd. “And even though the competition is held here in Bloomington and run out of The Mill, we use panels of expert, outside judges, so it’s really anyone’s game.”
The finals were held live over Zoom and judged by Amanda Findlay (Managing Director, MatchBOX), Adam Gross (Executive Director, Career Coaching & Employer Connections at Ivy Tech), Kelli Jones (General Partner, Sixty8 Capital), Cerwin Rush (Senior Data Consultant, Onebridge), and Ty Tjoelker (gBETA Indiana Director, gener8tor). The five finalists were rScan (Rod Baradaran, IU Bloomington), Campus Closet (Emily Mooney, IU Bloomington), The Country Market (Filip Kubiki, Notre Dame), HiFive (Paul Gipkin, IU Bloomington), and JL Innovators (Lextin Willis, Taylor University).
The Mill’s mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. The Mill operates Flywheel Fund, a member-managed capital fund for early-stage and high potential startups based in Indiana, with special attention to startups based in Bloomington and southern Indiana.
For more information on Crossroads Collegiate Pitch Competition, visit https://crossroadscollegiate.com/ For more information on the flagship Crossroads event, visit https://crossroadspitch.com/
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