Friday, November 20, 2009

Entrepreneurship Week Day 5 Summary - The Duke Start-up Challenge 2009 Finals Competition

Welcome to the Finals Competition of the Duke Start-up Challenge!!

Friday night marked the premier event celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week at Duke University. The Start-up Challenge Elevator Pitch Competition was a week-long opportunity for students to pitch start-up company concepts to a panel of distinguished business leaders and a live audience.

The Finals Competition, hosted at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, was the climax of the week and offered the winners of each elevator pitch Track a chance to compete for the $1,000 Judge's Choice Award and the People's Choice Award of $250. The 7 elevator pitch Tracks and their respective winners who competed in the Final Competition were:

Undergraduate-led Startup Track:
People’s Choice Award: CarBone, Wasabi
Judge's Choice Award: Wasabi, Know It, Win It
Judge's Runner Up: ImmunoDispense Pro

Energy & Environment Track:
People’s Choice Award: Token Energy
Judge's Choice Award: Token Energy

Judge's Runner Up: CarBone

Healthcare & Life Sciences Track:
People’s Choice Award: Biogenic Medical Devices
Judge's Choice Award: Medici Medical Technologies

IT & Media Track:
People’s Choice Award: AdStream
Judge's Choice Award: National Field
Judge's Runner Up: DEVILHEEL

Women-led Startups Track:
People’s Choice Award: ImmunoDispense Pro
Judge's Choice Award: Optimal Surgical

Social Enterprises Track:
People’s Choice Award: StumpWorks
Judge's Choice Award: StumpWorks
Judge's Runner Up: The Produce Purity Project

Products & Services Track:
People’s Choice Award: 25th Hour Media
Judge's Choice Award: General Nano

For the Finals Competition, prizes were awarded for the best overall business concept and presentation. Judging the Finals Competition were:

Bill Maris - Co-founder of Google Ventures

Bill Maris is a Managing Partner of Google Ventures. Bill brings more than a decade of diverse operational, entrepreneurial and leadership experience to Google Ventures. Bill's past successes include founding Web hosting pioneer, which he subsequently sold to Interland, Inc., now known as Prior to that, Bill was a portfolio manager for Stockholm, Sweden-based Investor AB, one of the world's largest industrial holding companies, where he co-managed the biotechnology and health care portfolios. Bill’s background also includes scientific research into cholinergic visual pathways, cell membrane patch clamping techniques and in-vivo neuronal cell injection at Duke University Medical Center, Department of Neurobiology. Bill is based in Mountain View, CA and received an A.B. with honors in Neuroscience from Middlebury College.

Catherine Massey’71 - Co-Founder of LawDocsXpress

Catherine E. Massey is the co-founder of LawDocsXpress. She has more than 15 years of experience as Owner & President of Legal Resources, Inc., a legal temporary and placement service based in Atlanta, Georgia, with clients all over the United States. In addition, she has more than 10 years experience in corporate management with emphasis in human resources. She has a BA from Duke University and an MS from Georgia State University.

Matt Megaro - Co-founder and CEO of Quill Medical

Matt Megaro: Matt has extensive experience in starting and developing biotechnology and medical devices ventures. Most recently, he was President and CEO of Quill Medical, Inc., a medical device company that he co-founded in 2000 in Research Triangle Park, NC. Quill was sold to Angiotech Pharmaceuticals in 2006 in a $200 million structured acquisition. Prior to Quill, he was President of Trimeris, Inc., a Durham, NC biotechnology company focused on treatments of infectious disease. At Trimeris, he led the Company’s business development and financing initiatives including private and public stock offerings and an IPO in 1997. Prior to Trimeris, he was Chief Financial Officer of Athena Neurosciences which developed treatments for neurological disorders. At Athena, he was responsible for various product licensing and acquisition programs and for financing initiatives including Athena’s IPO in 1991. He serves as a board member of several life science companies and is currently engaged as an entrepreneurship advisor to the US Embassy and Consulates in Italy. He received his B.S. in Finance from the University of California, Berkeley. Matt is also an Executive-in-Residence for the Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

David Samuel - Co-Founder of Freestyle Capital

A serial entrepreneur and Internet pioneer, Dave has specialized in software & media since 1994. In early 2004, David served as President and co-founder of, a website specializing in Internet Video. The company raised $5 million in Angel & VC financing. In August 2006, Sony Pictures Entertainment acquired Grouper for $65 million. In late 2003, David co-founded Brondell, the first American-based company to develop high-tech toilet seats. David currently serves as Chairman of the Board. In early 1996, David, as CEO, founded, the first and largest Internet music service. In May 1999, AOL acquired the firm for $320 million. During Spinner's growth, David employed and managed 75 personnel at Spinner, and raised $15 million from Sony Music Entertainment, Intel, Amerindo, and several others. From May 1999 to June 2000, Mr. Samuel worked as Vice President of Technology for AOL. Prior to founding in early 1996, David worked at Oracle within the application development group. He graduated from MIT in 1994 with a degree in Electrical Engineering.

Opening the evening was special guest speaker and elevator pitch judge Bill Maris, Co-founder of Google Ventures. Thanks to the generous donation of time and expertise by all contributing judges and for a dedicated group of sponsors of the Duke Start-up Challenge.

Start-up Challenge Finals Contenders
Now in its 10th year, the Duke Start-up Challenge hosted a record 74 Teams and 130 pitches throughout a full week of entrepreneurial activity. Held at the Geneen Auditorium at the Fuqua School of Business, a packed-out crowd welcomed the first pitch by General Nano – developer of the world’s longest carbon nano-tubes. The first set of competing teams in the Finals Competition were:

General Nano - Spinning carbon nanotubes (stronger than steel and lighter than cotton) into electrically conductive thread for use in multiple industries. Andrew Simon at

Know It, Win It - The problem: math and science skills in the US. A solution: a website that will unconventionally reward students for educational success. Samiron Ray at

AdStream - AdStream: introducing Symbiotic Advertising. Connecting advertisers with target markets through personalized desktop ads. Andrew Joiner at

Stumpworks - The next-generation in video game technology. By measuring movements in muscle contractions, we have a more accurate, immersive gaming experience. Rish Sinha at

25th Hour Media - 25th Hour Media focuses on creating streaming audio, with a human voice, from blog and news text content that are delivered to mobile devices. Nick Sehn at

National Field - Online platform that helps organizations run more efficiently. Formed during the Obama campaign and currently used by political campaigns at all levels. Brendan Farmer at

CarBone - Our innovative process recycles waste bone, converting it into porous carbon electrodes for use in oxygen batteries and modern electronics. David Benson at

Closing in on the Winning Pitch
At the Finals Competition, company representatives pitched ideas ranging from a class1 medical device designed to simplify cataract surgery to a sophisticated energy sensing system with commercial and residential applications. Additional company pitches included:

Optimal Surgical - Developing the CataCut©, a device to simplify cataract surgery. Cataracts are the number one cause of blindness in the world. Alaina Pleatman at

ImmunoDispense Pro - The ImmunoDispense Pro is an in-home device which safely and accurately dispenses powders for oral immunotherapy to treat food allergies. Jamie Wilkie at

Token Energy - Developing real time building energy use displays which allow residents of dorms to see exactly how much energy the dorm is using. Andrew LeBlanc at

Medici Medical Technologies - Medici MedTech is developing a medical device that treats urinary incontinence while giving its users convenience & control. Joseph Knight at

Wasabi - Wasabi is the first restaurant franchise to serve fresh, high quality sushi using the have-it-your-way ordering system. Shaan Puri at

The Produce Purity Project - The PPP fights against foodborne illness in northern Afghanistan by resourcing and educating women in sanitary food preparation and hygiene. Stephanie Fruth at

Biogenic Medical Devices - Utilizing Cell Seeding Technology to coat stents with a patient’s own cells, Biogenic Medical Devices reduces the risk of serious complications from stent failure. Garrett Muramoto at

The Winners of the Duke Start-up Challenge Finals Competition
A full evening of start-up pitch finalists concluded with a thunderous round of audience applause and affirmation to all pitching teams from each of the judges.

Directly after the final elevator pitch by Biogenic Medical Devices, the judges were escorted to a private location to decide upon the recipient of the Judge's Choice Award and a cash prize of $1,000.

While the judges were away, audience members were invited to vote for the $250 People’s Choice Award using the Duke Start-up Challenge’s live text-message voting system. Each audience member was allowed to text their top choice start-up team to the Duke Start-up Challenge voting system which calculated a winner in real time.

When the judges returned and the votes were tabulated, the stage lights were raised, the music lowered and host Dan Weinstein announced the winners of the 2009 Duke Start-up Challenge Elevator Pitch Finals Competition.

The 2009 People’s Choice Award: The Produce Purity Project
The 2009 Judge's Choice Award: Biogenic Medical Devices

Congratulations to the winners of the 2009 Duke Start-up Challenge Elevator Pitch Finals Competition!! Special thanks to all of the sponsors, judges, contestants, and audience members who made the Duke Start-up Challenge and Entrepreneurship Week 2009 a great success.


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