18 Finalists Were Awarded Cash Prizes Totaling $113,500
Charlotte, NC (April 20, 2012) – A sold out crowd of over 300 people gathered at the NASCAR Hall of Fame to hear start-up business pitches from nine innovative high-growth companies on Thursday evening. This year’s competition awarded $113,500 in prize money and including the $50,000 grand prize from Charlotte-based Vaterra Capital.
The event featured remarks by Mayor Anthony Foxx on the importance of entrepreneurship in the Charlotte region. Dr. Robert G. Wilhelm, Vice Chancellor, Research and Economic Development at UNC Charlotte opened the event with an update on the university’s commitment to entrepreneurship support. Paul Wetenhall, president of the Ben Craig Center, Inc., offered insight into the region’s collaborative efforts to build a strong entrepreneurship and innovation platform.
Eighteen finalists waited with anticipation for their names would be called as one of the 9 teams to make a final five-minute pitch and respond to rapid-fire questions from the judging panel. Having already competed earlier in the day to determine the category winners the teams now were pitching to win the $50,000 grand prize.
The judging panel included multiple perspectives from experienced investors. Panelists included Paul Grim, Sunbridge Capital, John Cambier, Idea Fund Partners, Marjorie Benbow, North Carolina Biotechnology Center, Rajeev Kulkarni 3D Systems, and Mike Marvin, MDM Advisors.
Grand prize winner, CanDiag, Inc, will receive a $50,000 convertible-debt note from Vaterra Capital. Founded by UNC Charlotte researcher Dr. Pinku Mukherjee the company has developed a novel technology that accurately detects early breast cancer. Dr. Mukherjee observes, “The investment will pave the path for further clinical validation and regulatory approval to offer women an early detection breast cancer blood test. The anticipated impacts are greater peace of mind to women from a more accurate test, and improved survival with early detection. Further, it is expected that healthcare costs will be lowered with the reduction of redundant expensive testing. "
Prior to the evening event the 18 finalists went before panels of experienced angel investors to determine the category winners and who would present at night. The Ben Craig Center hosted 20 angel investors from throughout the Carolinas that brought their knowledge and investment dollars to judge the finalists in Charlotte.
The $10,000 Category winners included New Energy and High Tech category winner InfoSense, Inc (Charlotte, NC); IT and Informatics category winner Deal Cloud (Charlotte, NC); Consumer Products and Services category winner Mobile Potential (Asheville, NC); and Life Science and Biotech category winner Qualiber, Inc. (Chapel Hill, NC). The student category winner was Instruct Health from Queens
University. The social enterprise category winner in partnership with Queens City Forward was Bamboo Apparel (High Point, NC). The J. Chris Murphy award was awarded to the top UNC Charlotte student team PipePro.
Over the course of the evening the audience reviewed each of the pitches in preparation for their chance to choose the People’s Choice winner. When the audience was asked to cast their vote via text message the $1,000 People’s Choice Award went to Deal Cloud of Charlotte, NC.
All 18 finalists will receive cash prizes with total prizes reaching $113,500. Additional in-kind service prizes were provided by: Ben Craig Center, Packard Place and MailVU.
The Charlotte Venture Challenge grew significantly this year with 117 applicants from the Carolinas, VA and TN. This year’s 18 finalists were: Instruct Healthcare, PipePro, The Pucker Butt Pepper Company, iBid2Save.com, CanDiag, Inc., InfoSense, DealCloud, Parasol Technologies, and YOUniverisity Drive, all from Charlotte; Qualiber, Inc., Proximitas, Good Fit and Directed Deposits, all from Chapel Hill; Orthovative Technologies from Winston-Salem; Bamboo Apparel from High Point; Dynamo Micropower from Durham; Mobile Potential from Asheville; and Friendeo from Blacksburg, VA.
For more information, call Devin Collins at (704) 250-5753. Visit www.CharlotteVentureChallenge.com
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About Charlotte Venture Challenge
In 2001, the Five Ventures Business Innovation Competition was founded with the goal of helping early-stage UNC Charlotte businesses grow. Since those early days and through the support of UNC Charlotte’s Charlotte Research Institute, Office of Technology Transfer and Belk College of Business, sponsors, service providers and a number of dedicated partners, the competition has grown into a region-wide economic development competition attracting companies from all over North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee. Since the first competition, over 100 start-ups have made it to the finals where experts from our community have mentored them. Alumni companies have gone on to raise over $40 million in venture capital and have continued to gain national and international attention. The contest name was changed in 2012 to the Charlotte Venture Challenge.
Wednesday April 25, 2012