Thursday, April 8, 2010

Event Summary: 2010 Duke Start-up Challenge Investor Pitch Finals

Welcome to the 2010 Investor Pitch Finals Event of the Duke Start-Up Challenge!

Live from Fuqua's HCA Auditorium, a cast of 7 teams has been selected from an original lineup of 109 start-up company contestants. Each team will be presenting a new start-up business concept led by Duke students of all ages and academic disciplines. Each of the 7 finalists will have the opportunity to present an 8 minute investor pitch before a live audience and panel of judges for the chance to win $25,000.

Tonight’s event will be hosted by Fuqua MBA student Shalav Gupta, and will be featuring a distinguished panel of judges including:

Jack Egan, Founding Managing Partner of Egan-Managed Capital - a Boston based venture capital fund.

Karen LeVert, President and CEO of Southeast TechInventures - a technology accelerator for the rapid conversion of university scientific breakthroughs into new companies.

Greg Mario, CEO of Taxis Pharmaceuticals - a pharmaceutical company targeting highly resistant forms of bacterial pathogens.

Michael Olander, President and Owner of Apple Gold Group - which owns and operates a total of 80 restaurants.


And They’re Off!
The 2010 Investor Pitch Finals Event opened with a packed auditorium filled with Duke students and lots of energy. After personal introductions by each of the judges, host Shalav Gupta opened the stage to the first investor pitch finalist competitor, Colucci DANZA – a unique, new approach to ballet shoes that are ergonomically and stylishly designed.

In addition to Colucci DANZA, the lineup of investor pitch competitors for the evening consists of:

MicroPower – Developers of an ethanol-powered microengine designed for consumer electronics.

Wasabi – Ushering in a new era of fast casual dining through made-to-order sushi offered at reasonable prices.

Rhexis – Creators of a disposal surgical instrument that improves the accuracy and reliability of cataract surgery.

Curvit – A creative new way to utilize the internet to organize and facilitate resume building.

Green Wave Sciences – Seeking to develop solutions to agricultural crop pestilences through the use of electromagnetic radiation.

The Progress and Purity Project – Aims to facilitate the empowerment of native Afghan women through microfinance, handicraft fair trade, and food sanitation.


Contestant Highlight: Micropower
Developers of an ethanol-powered microengine, two Duke Ph.D students have created a system to produce electric current from a miniature combustion engine. Their start-up company, called Micropower, is designed to power electronic devices at a fraction of the price of traditional batteries.

In terms of output, 1 microengine is worth approximately $21,000 worth of conventional batteries. Their current market opportunities include the US military, the $71 Billion global commercial battery market, and the consumer electronics market. They are currently seeking series-A start-up funding between $1-2 Million.


Contestant Highlight - Green Wave Sciences
Green Wave Sciences is seeking tap into the $10 Billion market for agricultural soil purification. The company is seeking to develop an innovative alternative to agricultural crop pesticides through the use of electromagnetic radiation.

Their core product is a proprietary soil sterilizer, using microwave-radiation technology that is towed by a tractor through a crop's fields. Their product plans to neutralize harmful biological elements at a cost of $49 per acre, versus the $580 per acre cost that is common when using methyl bromide - the company’s closest competitor.


See you at the Grand Finale!
After a full evening of investor pitches by each of the 7 competing teams, the judges addressed the audience with a series of critiques and observations centered on venture investing. Next, they retreated to a private room to deliberate over their choice of a winner. The winner of the 2010 Duke Start-Up Challenge Investor Pitch Finals will be revealed during the final event of the year – the Grand Finale.

The Grand Finale will be held on April 16th at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University and will feature a special appearance and address by Duke Alum Aaron Patzer ’02, Founder and CEO of In the fall of 2009, Aaron’s company was purchased by Intuit in an incredible $170 Million acquisition.

At the Grand Finale, the winning team of the 2010 Investor Pitch Competition will be crowned and the grand prize package of $25,000 will be awarded. All Duke students, post-docs, faculty and staff invited to attend. See you at the Grand Finale!



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