Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Duke Start-up Challenge Day 3: Women Entrepreneurs Track Summary

Welcome to Day 3 of the Duke Start-up Challenge!
Tonight marked the half-way point en-route to the finals of the Duke Start-up challenge! Hosted at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, the start-up challenge’s Elevator Pitch Competition continued with the IT and Media Track and a groundbreaking, 1st ever Women Entrepreneurs Track. Carolyn Nohejl hosted the Women Entrepreneurs Track overseeing a total of 17 prospective start-ups. Judging the Women Entrepreneurs Track was a distinguished panel of women business leaders:

Kimberly Jenkins ’76, Duke Board of Trustees
A graduate of Duke University (BS 1976, PhD 1980), Dr. Jenkins is the former President of the Internet Policy Institute, and also the Founder, Chairman, and President of Highway 1 - a nonprofit organization focused on federal government IT efficiencies.

Catherine Massey ’71, Co-Founder of LawDocsXpress
Co-founder of LawDocsXpress, Catherine E. Massey also has over 15 years of experience as Owner & President of Legal Resources, Inc., a legal temporary and placement service based in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition, she has more than 10 years of experience in corporate management with emphasis in human resources. She has a BA from Duke University and an MS from Georgia State University.

Brooks Bell ’02, Founder and CEO of Brooks Bell Interactive
President of Brooks Bell Interactive, Brooks leads her team in developing effective communication strategies and creative solutions. She is a graduate of Duke University with a degree in Psychology. Prior to founding Brooks Bell Interactive in 2003, she co-founded web design and development firm, novelProjects, as an undergraduate at Duke. Brooks is a frequent speaker at colleges and conferences, and has published widely in regional business journals and trade publications.

After an encouraging introductory speech by Dr. Kimberly Jenkins featuring her early career involvement with Microsoft founders Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, the Women Entrepreneurs Track competition began with a lively first pitch by a start-up called 21-Watt.

Women Entrepreneurs Track Update
A terrific line-up of women-led start-up pitches graced the live audience at the Fuqua School of Business. From a convenient restaurant ordering service to an innovative electric vehicle battery deployment system, pitches in this 1st ever track demonstrated a versatile array of business applications. Competing companies included:

RUBBERBANDITZ - RUBBERBANDITZ offers a convenient workout solution for all fitness levels. The proprietary system is composed of circular exercise bands and accessory units.

Food4U – An internet-powered application that has food order forms for the Merchants on Points restaurants. Use your food points or flex to order without the hassle of calling the restaurant.

Charge – Developing an electric vehicle battery swap infrastructure to enable vehicles in developing countries to operate where there is no access to clean, reliable wall-outlet power.

GraffLab - GraffLab channels the artistic abilities of LA’s at-risk youth by turning their work into marketable products.

Smartlet - Smartlet is a cost- and energy-saving system that reduces your phantom energy waste at the touch of a button - without any installation!

The Pitching Continues at the 1st Ever Women Entrepreneurs Track
The Women Entrepreneurs Track showed no signs of slowing as the evening continued with a full slate of start-up pitches. Excellent representation among Duke University undergraduate and graduate students fueled the vivacity of the women-led pitch competition. Additional contestants included:

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

Optimal Surgical - We are developing the CataCut©, a device which will simplify cataract surgery. Cataracts are the number one cause of blindness in the world. - helps you find fuel efficient and eco-friendly ways to get you where you want to go, saving the environment and saving you money.

BioWires - BioWires™ is developing subdermal and wireless CROWN™ Series electroencephalograms (EEGs).

Entrepreneurship Week – Day 3 Wrap-up: Women Entrepreneurs Track
A full line-up of start-up pitches concluded with a hearty congratulations to all entrants by Carolyn Nohejl, the presiding host for the evening. Directly after the final pitch, the judges gathered privately to decide upon the recipient of the Judges Choice Award. Simultaneously, the audience was invited to participate in the Duke Start-up Challenge’s live text-message voting system. Within minutes, votes were tabulated electronically to decide on the People’s Choice Award.

Following impressive remarks from the judges pertaining to the overall strength of the entrepreneur’s pitches, the votes were tallied and the winners were announced:

For participants in the Women Entrepreneurs Track:
People’s Choice Award: ImmunoDispense Pro
Judges Choice Award: Optimal Surgical

A big congratulations to all contestants in the Women Entrepreneurs Track of the Duke Start-up Challenge!! In addition to demonstrating superb passion, presenters also exhibited an intricate knowledge of their start-up concept ideas. The winners of the People’s Choice Award and the Judges Choice Award will be allowed to compete at the finals competition on Friday at the Fuqua School of Business.

Only 1 day left until the Start-up Challenge finals event on Friday, November 20th, at the Fuqua School of Business. See you there!


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