Thursday, November 19, 2009

Welcome to Day 4 of the Duke Start-up Challenge

Taking the spotlight on Thursday night’s continuation of the Duke Start-up Challenge were the Social Enterprises Track and the Products & Services Track. With only a matter of hours remaining before the start of the Finals competition, tonight’s Tracks competed for $250 in cash prizes and the right to compete for $1,000 in the Finals.

Hosting the evening held at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, were Duke MBA candidates Dan Weinstein and Jonathan Gibbs. For the Products & Service Track, 15 company start-ups pitched their company concepts to a guest panel of distinguished judges. Judges for tonight’s competition were:


Jay Mebane ‘90, ‘99 – Co-Founder and CFO of US Handbags.

In addition to serving as the co-founder and CFO of US Handbags, Jay has also co-founded or owned several other North Carolina companies including such names as Rapidata.net, Thundershirt.com, First Analytical Laboratories and Arcametrics. Jay graduated from Duke University in 1990 and the Fuqua School of Business in 1999. Prior to Fuqua, Jay practiced corporate finance law with Moore & Van Allen, PLLC in Charlotte, NC.


Michael Olander – President and CEO of Apple Gold Group.

Michael Olander is the president and owner of the Apple Gold Group, which he founded in 1979 after graduating from law school. The Apple Gold Group currently owns and operates a total of 80 restaurants in four states.


Peter Heffring – President of Futures, Inc.

Prior to joining Futures, Peter was the co-founder and CEO of Ceres Integrated Solutions, which quickly became a leading provider of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software and analytical services for clients such as Wal-Mart, JCPenney, Lowes Home Improvement, Wells Fargo, and Travelocity. Ceres was acquired by NCR for $90M in 2000. Prior to founding Ceres, Peter served as a senior executive management at the IBM Corporation.

After an insightful introductory speech by Jay Mebane featuring his experience growing and developing start-up companies, the Products & Services Track took flight with a persuasive first pitch by Intelligent Irrigation Solutions.

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