Crown Point’s Kyle Ayling among finalists competing for $100,000 in Nationwide and BlueVine's Pitch to Win contest • Northwest Indiana Business Magazine
Kyle Ayling

Crown Point’s Kyle Ayling among finalists competing for $100,000 in Nationwide and BlueVine’s Pitch to Win contest

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Kyle Ayling
Kyle Ayling's Cloud 9 Griptape is one of seven products in the running for a $100,000 top prize in Nationwide’s Pitch to Win contest. He is from Crown Point. (Photo provided by Nationwide)

Kyle Ayling's passion for skateboarding and creative expression led to development of a product that complements both and enhances safety in the sport. And he hails from Crown Point.

His Cloud 9 Griptape is one of seven products in the running for a $100,000 top prize in the Pitch to Win contest, launched by Nationwide and Bluevine. The inaugural competition, which launched in May during National Small Business Week to help entrepreneurs further develop their ideas, will name a winner Oct. 3 after Ayling and six other competitors present their ideas to a panel of judges at Nationwide’s headquarters in Columbus, Ohio.

“Nationwide once started as a small business aiming to provide trusted and fairly priced insurance coverage for America’s farmers,” said Tony Fenton, vice president of underwriting, product and new product development at Nationwide. “All of the Pitch To Win finalists have demonstrated their industry expertise, commitment to growing their businesses and the unique market needs they are serving.”

Cloud 9 Griptape creates skateboard grip tape with unique and colorful graphics, according to Nationwide. While traditional plain black grip tape may limit how skateboarders show their individuality, Cloud 9 Griptape’s designs enable them to express themselves and stand out.

Ayling seeks to give skateboarders a better way to showcase their creativity.

Other competitors, who beat out more than 3,300 other entries, include:

  • Diana Elizabeth Hall, Pueblo, Colo. She developed ActivArmor, which makes 3D-printed casting and splinting devices.
  • Ingrid Sanden, Arlington, Va., co-founder of Boolean Girl Tech, which helps girls explore their interests in technology by encouraging meaningful, hands-on, STEM-focused play.
  • Dahlia Rizk, Londonderry, N.H., founder of Buckle Me Baby Coats a maker of children’s coats designed for safer, easier car seat use.
  • Kimberly Lewis, Chicago, co-founder of CurlMix, a producer of a hair-care line for women with curly hair, providing a four-step, non-toxic system.
  • Ellington West, Baltimore, Md., founding team member and CEO of Sonavi Labs, which creates AI-enabled digital stethoscopes, remote monitoring devices, supportive apps and a smart cloud system that can analyze body sounds and identify respiratory abnormalities independent of a doctor.
  • Fred Bowman, Columbus, Ohio, founder of TITAN Mixer Bottle. His no-battery, no-shake mixer bottle efficiently creates a smooth and consistent protein shake.

Each finalist receives an all-expenses-paid trip to Nationwide’s headquarters in Columbus, Ohio. The judges’ panel includes Kelley Earnhardt Miller, sister of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and co-owner of JR Motorsports; Eyal Lifshitz, founder and CEO of BlueVine; Jasmine Green, chief customer advocate at Nationwide; and Lisa Gobber, vice president of small commercial and premium audit at Nationwide.

The runner up will receive $20,000 and a $10,000 prize will be awarded for third place. The awards will be non-dilutive, meaning business owners will not be required to give any ownership of their company to the sponsors.

Each finalist also will meet and consult with experienced business experts.

BlueVine, which provides funding to startups, helped Nationwide launch the contest.

“As a third-generation small business entrepreneur, I was inspired by the thousands of contestants who submitted compelling proposals for an opportunity to accelerate their business growth with an influx of capital and leadership counsel,” said Eyal Lifshitz, BlueVine CEO and founder.
“Every day at BlueVine, we see how additional capital can take small businesses to the next level, and I’m eager to join Nationwide in supporting the Pitch To Win finalists in scaling their diverse businesses, supporting their local communities and achieving their goals.”

Learn more about the finalists on Nationwide’s and BlueVine’s social media platforms leading up to the Oct. 3 event. More details are available at


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