Thursday, March 31, 2011

Investor Pitch Finals, part of the 11th Annual Duke Start-Up Challenge

After months of preparation, practicing pitches, and fine-tuning business plans, tonight’s entrepreneurship competition at the Investor Pitch Finals Event hosted the final seven Duke University startup teams, each competing for the $50,000 Grand Prize.

Hosted by Tim Canavan (Nicholas/Fuqua '12) and Vidhan Agrawal (Pratt '12) at the Fuqua School of Business, the evening was a great success. From the original 110 Duke student startup teams who competed at the beginning of February, the top seven were allowed to pitch before the event’s live panel of judges and a packed auditorium.

A special feature of the evening was an outstanding keynote address from Melissa Bernstein '87; a member of the judge’s panel and Co-founder/Co-CEO of Melissa & Doug, LLC, one of the leading toy companies.

Competition Details:
Each student-led team was given 7 minutes to pitch their company idea to the judges, followed by 3 minutes for questions and answers. The decision of the $50,000 Judge’s Choice Grand Prize Award and additional cash prizes will be decided after the event and revealed at the Grand Finale Event on April 8th. In addition to the Grand Prize, three $10,000 cash prizes have already been awarded for winners of the best in each category: Undergraduate Led Start-up, Women Led Start-up, and Products and Services Start-up. And for the winner of the best Social Enterprise Start-up, a special award of $2,500 has been awarded.

The Finalists:

A social mobile platform combining group messaging capabilities with target-driven coupon delivery designed for operation in China. Team Lead: Stephanie Chang, Pratt '11

HyTower Energy Storage
The HyTower system converts out of service water towers into power storage units. Their pumped-hydro system builds on proven technology to deliver safe, reliable energy storage at higher efficiency and lower cost than competing technologies. Company is planning to enter the $1.5B annual market for energy storage. Team Lead: Matt Kaufmann, Fuqua '11

Medici Medical Technologies
Medici develops innovative devices to restore control to women suffering from urinary incontinence. The company plans to provide a high control and high convenience solution for the 28 million Americans who suffer from urinary incontinence $20B is spent annually in this market. Team Lead: Jeff Kovick, Fuqua '11

Sidewalk helps customers and businesses by uniting them together with time sensitive deals. Sidewalk makes it incredibly simple for local merchants to increase customer traffic and by helping people spend wiser. Team Lead: Rhianon DeLeeuw, Fuqua '11

The most efficient way to buy and sell university textbooks among college students. Team Lead: Tito Bohrt, Trinity '13

Accion Emprendedora USA
Accion Emprendedora will offer business management education, training and coaching for Hispanic entrepreneurs in North Carolina to help them overcome the barriers they have for growth and economic development. Team Lead: Ignacio Torres, Sanford '11

Plans to reducing hospital acquired infections through utilizing RFID tracking to increase human hand hygiene compliance. Team Lead: Jessica Liu, Pratt '11

Tonight’s Judges:
Melissa Bernstein - ('87) Co-founder/Co-CEO of Melissa & Doug, LLC.

Bill Geary - Partner at North Bridge Venture Partners.

Jack Egan - Egan-Managed Capital.

Geoff Kanter - (89) Managing Director, MK Media Ventures.

Rich Lee - Former CEO of Hosted Solutions.

Karen LeVert - CEO of Southeast TechInventures.

Tom McMurray - Ph.D ('76 '78 '80) Marine Ventures Foundation. Former Partner at Sequoia Capital.

Pictures of the event are available here:
Photos taken by Olgun Kukrer

Next up:
Be sure to join us next week on Friday April 8th at 7:30pm for our final event of the year – the Grand Finale Event! This memorable night will include the naming of the winning teams for each of the awards, and feature world renowned philanthropist and investor J.B. Pritzker (’87) as the keynote speaker. You won’t want to miss it!

Written by Trevor Scott
Edited by Howie Rhee '04


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