Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day 2 of the Duke Start-up Challenge Elevator Pitch Competition: Undergrad-led Startups Track

29 Duke University undergraduate-led start-up teams pitched their business ideas tonight at the second sequential day of the Elevator Pitch Competition. From a company designed to pay users for watching commercials to a high tech firm promising batteries made from bones, diverse, innovative, and intriguing company concepts were presented before a live audience and judges - each team vying for a spot to compete at the Elevator Pitch Finals with Greylock Partners. The Elevator Pitch Finals competition will be held on November 12th at Fuqua, and the entire Duke community is invited to attend. That night, each of the two winners from the 8 tracks of enterprises will be allowed to compete for the $5000 cash prize selected by the judges and a $1500 audience choice prize which will be selected by the viewers using live text message voting.

Live from Duke University
Hosted live by Vidhan Agrawal (Pratt’12) and Dovina Qu (Pratt ’12) at Duke University’s Bryan Center, each of the 29 competing start-up teams were given exactly 1 minute to convince the judges why their company deserves to be funded with a seed round of investment capital. Judging the event was a panel of seasoned start-up business professionals: 

  • Justin Klein ’99, MD ‘06 – Principal at NEA Venture Partners
  • Doug Eisner ’07 – Co-founder and COO of Grassroots Bio
  • Taylor Mingos ’07 – Founder and CEO of 
  • Matt Kane '06 - Co-founder and CEO of Precision Biosciences
  • Jon Fjeld '90 - Executive Director, Fuqua Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Competition among the teams was tight. Well prepared pitches and passionate pleas for funding heightened the excitement of the evening’s already electric, entrepreneurial atmosphere.

Undergraduate-led Startup Track Contestants
For this track the rule was: "Whoever is pitching must be an undergrad, and the same people pitching in this track must pitch in all other tracks and in the Finals."

Tonight’s competitors were:

Track 1

  1. Auris Ingenum
  2. Airmart
  3. Gebshed
  4. inCadence
  5. Yoh Show
  6. CarBone
  7. Corona Enterprises
  8. Askapade
  9. Smart Shot
  10. EnergySync
  11. Pocket Blue Light
  12. (formerly
  13. Winyata
  14. ClearBolus

Track 2
  1. InterestIn
  2. Nooch
  3. The Ujamaa Project
  4. FriendCal
  5. Pure Hair Salon
  7. Connectwork
  8. Golden Diamond Mansion Certification
  9. Mufu
  10. AdApt
  11. time2work
  12. TheRushie
  13. Advisync
  14. Scribblit
  15. Smarticles

Each Track produced an:
  • Audience Choice Winner
  • Judge's Choice Winner
  • and a Judge's Choice Runner-up
In addition, a Best Freshmen-led Team* prize was awarded.

The Winners

The winners of the audience choice awards were (formerly and
  • (formerly is a network connecting students in need of college-related favors/assistance to students willing to oblige for a reasonable price.
  • ShelfRelief is a website startup that asks "Are you tired of paying hundreds of dollars for books and getting just a few bucks when you sell them back? Let us solve the problem for you."
The Judges' Choice for the overall winners of the Undergraduate-led start-up track were Askapade and Nooch.

  • Askapade is a Q&A platform that makes it easier and more fun to ask your friends for help.
  • Nooch is a revolutionary new Peer-to-Peer Money Transfer System. Web-based design will utilize social media and cell phones to allow quicker, easier and cheaper transactions. Immediate access to funds and low fees and will attract a wide range of users.

inCadence and were the Judges' Runner-ups in their respective tracks.

  • inCadence forges entirely new perspectives of the physical world through seamless on-locale augmented reality delivered on mobile platforms.

Both the Judges' Choice winners and Audience Choice winners will advance to the Elevator Pitch Finals event on November 12th at Duke University featuring Greylock Partners. Congratulations winners!

* To encourage freshmen to participate, we created a Best Freshmen-led Team prize of $150. We had four freshmen teams (who, randomly assigned, were all competing in Track 2). So as not to bias the judges, we did not tell them about this prize beforehand. In the case that no Freshman-led team was awarded points in the judging process, we were going to ask the judges independently to select a Freshmen-led Team prize winner. As it turned out, Scribblit received points in the judging process and was awarded the prize. 

Scribblit is "a textual (with optional integration of picture/sound/video within text) media-sharing website where users can read, create, and share original content for free. "

Congratulations, Scribblit.

Pictures of tonight's event can be found here:
(Thanks to Olgun Kukrer '12, and Tim Canavan '12)

Posted by Trevor Scott, edited by Howie Rhee '04

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