African startups win big at the annual Will This Float? Chattanooga tech contest

Jason Oteng-Nyame ( Ghana) pitching at the event

High school friends drawn from Ghana and Kenya walked away with top prizes on Monday night at the annual Chattanooga competition that showcases startup businesses. The three young men Jason Oteng-Nyame ( Ghana), and Gabriel Wamunyu and Anthony “Tony” Wamunyu Maina, (Kenya) are the founder of Asili Labs  that won the people’s choice award.

The three, who studied together in African Leadership Academy, a boarding school located in the outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa, are planning to launch Tryall. The latter will be a web and mobile platform that lets users test subscription-based products at no charge.

“We have built the best place for you to test out subscription-based products,” Oteng-Nyame told the packed audience at the competition. The startup will be helping people to unsubscribe from online entities such as Netflix, Hulu or Sling as long as they have given the specific date. Users are not required to pay for the service.

There business model will revolve around making money though premium subscriptions, selling ad space on its website and collecting data on general consumer behavior that it hopes to sell to subscription-based companies.

Oteng-Nyame is now a student at Davidson College in Davidson, N.C., while his partners are students at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, where Wamunyu majored in computer engineering and Maina majored in computer science.

Second place was a tie between Nashville-based Please Assist Me, and Swayy Hammocks. The former is a platform that lets people outsource their weekly household chores to a personal assistant who’ll come to the client’s home wearing a personal body camera, while the latter is a Chattanooga business that plans to sell lightweight insulated hammocks for backpacking.

The competition had a total of eight participants who pitched infront of an audience on the second floor of River Place, a building that houses Puckett’s Restaurant near the Tennessee Aquarium.

Will This Float is the brainchild of Company Lab (Co.Lab), a nonprofit startup accelerator that has been host to 67 startup companies that have received $42 million in capital, said Marcus Shaw, Co.Lab’s chief executive