2014 Charlotte Venture Challenge Winners

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7 Winners of 36 Competing Teams  Awarded over $60,000

Cash PrizesCharlotte, NC (May 2, 2014) – Over 250 entrepreneurs, investors, corporate innovation leaders, university faculty and students gathered on May 1, 2014 at UNC Charlotte’s new PORTAL Building to hear pitches by 36 early stage ventures selected from over 100 entrants in the 13th annual Charlotte Venture Challenge. The finalists included companies from Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Student teams represented eight colleges and universities.

The PORTAL building, opened in February 2014, was built to support collaboration among entrepreneurs, corporate innovation leaders, faculty and students. The building is operated by UNC Charlotte, an organizing sponsor along with Ventureprise, Inc. of the Charlotte Venture Challenge.

All 36 teams began an intensive review process in the morning with 3-minute business pitches to both corporate and investor judging panels. The teams networked with judges and conference participants as they anticipated selection as one of the teams to make a final, public 3-minute pitch in the Investor vs. Corporate showdown that determined cash prize winners.

The 2014 Charlotte Venture Challenges winners were announced during the evening’s gala reception in the PORTAL building atrium.

Awards for the undergraduate student category totaled $6,000 

The winner of the Undergraduate Ventures category was Track2Quit (NC State), with runners-up, OnCahoots (Davidson College), Tee-Pa (Pfeiffer University), and Vybe Sunglasses (NC State).

The awards for the graduate student category totaled $5,000.

The winner of the Graduate Ventures category was Motus (UNC Charlotte), with runner-up NANOpkg (UNC Charlotte).

The industry category winners eligible for $12,500 awards were selected as follows:

  • New Energy and High Technology — Clodico (Oak Ridge, TN);
  • Health IT and Biotech — eosNano (Charlotte, NC);
  • IT and Informatics — PRSONAS (Durham, NC);
  • Consumer Products and Services — ProctorFree (Huntersville, NC).

The Charlotte Venture Challenge People’s Choice award, based upon votes from all conference attendees, recognized Motus (UNC Charlotte).

The J. Chris Murphy prize for the best UNC Charlotte undergraduate venture was awarded to Clutch Gaming Solutions.

The afternoon program featured a keynote address –Building a Billion Dollar Startup – by two speakers, Manoj George, CEO Art.com and founding CFO of Red Hat; and Phil Verghis, CEO Klever and early executive at Akamai Technologies.

The “Getting Your First Corporate Customer” panel discussion featured Mike Weaver, CEO Intrinsic Marks International; Abhishek Mehta, Founder Tresata; and Igor Jablokov, Entrepreneur-in-Residence for Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network; and was moderated by Paul Wetenhall, President Ventureprise, Inc.

The second panel discussion–Corporate Innovation: Partnering with Startups–featured panelists Daniel Sondee, Ingersoll Rand; Jeff Gunther, Premier; Jonathan Luster, Lowes; and Anjali Shah, HP, Inc., and was moderated by Phil Verghis.  The Charlotte Venture Challenge pivoted in its mission for the 2014 event by shifting focus away from a series of pre-event elimination rounds to select one grand winner, to bringing almost 40 teams to the event, which exposed more teams, more investors and more corporate innovation leaders to each other for this day-long event.   The grand prize winnings were also spread among the industry sector winners and student teams versus one winner take all. 

2014 Charlotte Venture Challenge Sponsors:  UNC Charlotte’s Research and Economic Development, Charlotte Research Institute, Energy Production and Infrastructure Center (EPIC), Belk College of Business, College of Computing and Informatics, Office of Technology Transfer, Ventureprise, City of Charlotte, McGuire Woods, North Carolina Biotechnology Center, Hammer & Associates, P.C., Charlotte Angel Fund, Robinson Bradshaw, North Carolina Research Campus, City of Kannapolis, Town of Harrisburg Economic Development, Paul Pedigo IP and Law and Management and University City Partners.