Friday, April 16, 2010
Event Summary: the 2010 Duke Start-up Challenge Grand Finale!
Welcome to the Duke Start-up Challenge Grand Finale Event!
This is the event everyone’s been waiting for. Tonight, the winners of the 2010 Duke Start-up Challenge will be crowned and the $25,000 grand prize will be awarded. The evening begins with a keynote address from legendary Duke entrepreneur, Aaron Patzer, founder and CEO of Mint.com. After an inspiring round of elevator pitches led by Duke student entrepreneurs, the evening will crescendo into a time for the audience to select their choice for a cash prize winner and the results of the $25,000 grand prize will be announced.
Tonight marks the conclusion of months of preparation by aspiring entrepreneurs across Duke’s campus. Completing live on stage at the Fuqua School of Business, 13 of the best start-up company teams will each deliver their one-minute elevator pitch presentations with hopes of winning the grand prize.
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The Grand Finale Event Begins
As the evening opens, the Duke Start-up Challenge celebrates its 11th year of operation with an address by Aaron Patzer, a Duke alum and founder and CEO of Mint.com. Introduced by the evening’s host - second year MBA student Shalav Gupta - Aaron recently completed the sale of his company for $170 Million through an acquisition by financial software giant, Intuit.
Meet Aaron Patzer:
Duke University alum Aaron Patzer (T’02), started his professional career during the Internet boom years of 1998-2000 when he worked for Getawebsite.com and Miadora.com (an online jewelry store). After a number of engineering positions and internet startups, Patzer founded Mint.com in March 2006. Mint.com is a free, simple, and secure personal finance web application which consolidates a person’s financial life in one place. Patzer developed the full alpha version of Mint.com (in Java J2EE and mySQL) in 2006 before he met Josh Kopelman (founder of half.com) and Rob Hayes in the fall of 2006. Their meeting eventually led to funding, and in September 2007, Patzer launched Mint.com at the TechCrunch40 conference a year later – ultimately winning the $50K first prize.
In November 2009, Patzer became the Vice President and General Manager of the Personal Finance Group at Intuit when they agreed to acquire Mint.com for US$170M. At the time of the announced sale, Mint.com had an estimated 1.5 million users. Prior to Mint, Aaron was a Lead Architect at Nascentric and was the technical lead of the San Jose office.
In September 2008, Patzer was listed in Inc. magazine’s Top 30 Under 30, and was selected by Fortune Magazine to be among the Top 40 Entrepreneurs Under 40 in 2009. Money Magazine also named him as one of the top 8 Money Heroes of 2008. In addition to his BSEE from Duke University, he also holds an MSEE from Princeton University and has twelve patents issued or pending to his name.
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Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Start-up Challenge 2010’s Grand Finale Contestants
From an original lineup of over 100 competitors, tonight’s 1-minute pitch contestants include:
• The Progress and Purity Project
• Eye Innovations
• GreenWave Sciences
• Colucci DANZA
• Rhexis Biomedical
Each start-up company has exactly 1minute to convince a live audience of investors and spectators that their idea is worthy of the audience choice prize. The $25,000 grand prize has already been chosen at the Investor Pitch Finals last week, but tonight the winner will be revealed..
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Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Start-up Contestant - Wasabi
Veteran start-up pitchers for Wasabi - a novel, fast-casual sushi restaurant concept, once again delivered a supreme investor pitch focused on key facts, clear insight, and a vision for success. Near the end of their polished, 1-minute investor pitch presentation, the Wasabi team gave the signal for an added visual aid to be brought on stage - the US National Championship Duke Men's Basketball team! The crowd howled with cheers as the championship athletes graced the stage - each sporting shirts carrying the Wasabi brand name. Another crowd-pleasing achievement for the Wasabi entrepreneurship team!
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Moments away from a Winner
After radiant applause following the final start-up company pitch, audience members were invited to use a secure, text-messaging voting system to determine their choice of the $250 Audience Choice Award. Additionally, guest speaker Aaron Patzer was invited to pick his choice for the $500 Speakers' Choice Award. Audience members eagerly submitted their choices as the votes were tallied and the suspense began to build. Then, hosts Shalav Gupta and Vatsala Kabra approached the stage to reveal the winner.
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The Winners are Announced!!
The conclusion of the 2010 Duke Start-up Challenge Grand Finale culminated with:
The $250 Audience Choice Award goes to: Wasabi!
The $500 Speaker’s Choice Award goes to: Micropower!
The Winner of the $5,000 Runner up Prize goes to: Rhexis Biomedical!
And…the $25,000 Grand Finale Prize Package goes to: Wasabi!
A huge Thank You to all contestants and audience members for making the 2010 Duke Start-up Challenge a truly unforgettable experience!
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