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Charlotte Venture Challenge Finals
May 16, 2013 at 12:29 PM
The 2013 Charlotte Venture Challenge attracted a capacity crowd of over 300 people to the NASCAR Hall of Fame on May 1, 2013 for fast-paced presentations by eight early stage companies. The evening concluded with the $25,000 grand prize awarded to Bio-Adhesive Alliance.
Although a total of nineteen finalists competed for over $75,000 in prize money on May 1, the process began months ago. A series of five workshops guided participants through their own customer discovery processes and presentation preparation.
On March 1, 95 companies in six categories submitted their applications. By mid-March, reviewers selected the 36 most promising ventures to make verbal presentations to judging panels that included 50 savvy reviewers. This full day of pitches at the North Carolina Research Campus identified finalists and connected them to mentor teams in preparation for the May 1 Finals.
The finals competition began early on May 1 at the Ben Craig Center as nineteen finalists presented their businesses to over thirty angel investors. The morning event determined the six category winners plus two wild cards that would go on to pitch at the evening public event. The eight selected finalists made their final five-minute pitch and responded to rapid-fire question from a judging panel that awarded the $25,000 grand prize.
The evening event featured remarks by Dr. Philip L. Dubois, Chancellor UNC Charlotte on the university’s engagement in economic development. Dr. Robert G. Wilhelm, Vice Chancellor, Research and Economic Development opened the event with a briefing about how the new PORTAL building will enable the university to collaborate in powerful new ways with business partners ranging from start-ups to major corporations. Mr. Patrick T. Mumford, Director of Neighborhood and Business Services at the City of Charlotte offered remarks on the City’s commitment to entrepreneurship and their support of a new initiative, Lemonade Day.
The judging panel included multiple perspectives from experienced investors and entrepreneurs. Panelists included Paul Grim, Sunbridge Capital, John Cambier, Idea Fund Partners, Don Rainey, Grotech Ventures, Michelle Menard, Founder Choice Translating, Inc. and Rock Hankin, Chairman of the Board at Semtech Corp. (NASDAQ).
Bio-Adhesive Alliance was selected as the $25,000 grand prize winner. The start-up company is a spin-out from NC A&T State University that has developed an innovative technology to produce liquid asphalt from swine manure. According to the company, “This technology provides a sustainable and cost-effective solution to swine manure treatment while reducing pavement construction and maintenance cost.” The Bio-Adhesive Alliance team completed the National Science Foundation’s commercialization program known as i-Corps.
The Category winners eligible for $10,000 awards included: 1) New Energy and High Tech--Bio-Adhesive Alliance (Greensboro, NC); 2) IT and --Robocent (Norfolk, VA); 3) Consumer Products and Services--Greenbug (Beaufort, SC); and, 4) Life Science and Biotech--WeRx.org, (Charlotte, NC). The undergraduate student category winner was NoireNaturals from UNC Charlotte. The graduate student category winner was ProVazo from University of Virginia. The J. Chris Murphy award was awarded to the top UNC Charlotte student team, NoireNaturals.
This year’s competition included a new award for the startup that would most benefit from a corporate strategic partnership. The judging panel for this award included executives from Wells Fargo, Flextronics, Belk, Bank of America, SPX, Ingersoll Rand, Husqvarna, Midrex, Lowes, Microsoft, Electrolux and TIAA-CREF. Sustainable Ethanol Technologies (Charlotte, NC) was selected as the winner.
Over 200 startups have entered the competition, formerly known as Five Ventures, since it was re-named the Charlotte Venture Challenge in 2012. This year’s competition included entrants from 24 North Carolina counties, District of Columbia, Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia. The competition featured extensive volunteer engagement by over fifty reviewers and mentors.
Planning will soon begin for the 2014 edition of the Challenge with the intent of engaging more ventures more deeply and increasing the engagement with strategic corporate partners. If you want to know how to get involved in the Charlotte Venture Challenge, contact Devin Collins (704 250-5753, firstname.lastname@example.org).