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Amissa Health wins $50k grant to fight rare diseases with wearable technology and AI at the Annual Charlotte Veteran Startup Showcase, sponsored by the Service First Foundation


The event spotlights high-performing, ex-military founders driving meaningful solutions in Cybersecurity, Defense, Government Tech, and Healthcare. The event culminated in a high-stakes pitch contest, where Amissa Health emerged as the champion, securing a $50,000 cash grant.

The Winners

Amissa Health, hailing from Charlotte, North Carolina, and led by Jon Corkey, a retired Navy Special Operations Officer, impressed the judges and audience alike with his team’s progress in bootstrapping Amissa Heath as an emerging artificial intelligence platform able to leverage smartwatches to remotely monitor and analyze patient mental and physical health and wellbeing towards fighting rare diseases.

Judge’s Take: “The best entrepreneurs have a strong “Why.” Jon’s story about how his military career was cut short by a rare disease diagnosis and how he and his team have rallied to build a novel solution from the ground up was impressive.” – Karl Hightower

The Charlotte Veteran Startup Showcase was incredible. This award, and the mentorship we received will directly impact our work to prevent dementia, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.”

— Jon A. Corkey, CEO of Amissa Health

City Detect, hailing from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, grabbed the second spot and a $12,500 cash grant to revolutionize urban development with their AI-powered computer vision. Able to accurately assess housing code violations, City Detect seeks to modernize how communities address suburban and urban blight to enable more efficient code enforcement and resource allocation.

Judge’s Take: “Whether it is an abandoned house that’s become a magnet for crime or a fire hazard or an urban neighborhood dealing with abandoned vehicles and construction violations, the technology and approach that City Detect is pioneering is revolutionary.” -Jennifer Simpson

Why It Matters

Organized by the 501c3 nonprofit Service First Foundation, the Charlotte Veteran Startup Showcase is more than just a pitch contest. It’s a launchpad for veteran-led startups tackling society’s biggest challenges. Unlike traditional VC funding, which often leans towards consumer-focused SaaS, this event highlights startups that matter. Reflecting on the event, the Director of the Service First Foundation remarked;

“We’re thrilled the foundation has matured to deliver meaningful programs to support these impressive founders” – Abbey Johnson, Director. Service First Foundation

The Decision Makers

The esteemed panel of judges included private equity and venture investors Jennifer Simpson, , Karl Hightower, and John Cooper.

The Lineup

This year’s finalists were a mix of high-impact startups founded by service-driven veterans and intelligence community entrepreneurs. The event featured:

  • Amissa Health: Jon Corkey, CEO. [Healthcare] “An artificial intelligence platform build on cloud-scale data analytics for patient monitoring with wearable devices.”
  • City Detect: Gavin Baum-Blake, CEO [Govtech/Smart Cities]: “Empowering local governments and non-profits with actionable insights on city-wide housing conditions, all in near-real-time.”
  • Multitude Insights: Matthew White, CEO. [Public Safety/Govtech] “We automate information sharing between police departments using Natural Language Processing.”
  • NVIS: Kyle Aquino, CEO. [Cybersecurity] “Hackers can’t hack what they can’t see. Simply deploy Zero-Trust Network Access to your entire private network in minutes.”
  • Shadowscape: James McCarter, CEO. [Cybersecurity] “We help organizations easily understand their cyber risks, how to mitigate them, then prescribe recommendations” of attack.

Sponsors & Partners

The event was generously supported by Kevin and Sara Hesselbirg, Falfurrias Capital, and many other partners, including Amerjack Capital Partners, Akerman, Caldwell, and many more.