A sold out crowd of over 300 people gathered at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in April 2012 to meet the final 18 finalists of the 2012 Charlotte Venture Challenge. The competition attracted 117 startups from throughout the southeast to compete for $113,500 in prize money making it the region’s largest competition.
The 117 competitors competed in multiple rounds in six distinct categories: Consumer Products & Services, Life Sciences & Biotechnology, Information Technology and Informatics, New Energy & High Tech, Social Enterprises and Student.
Eighteen finalists waited with anticipation for their names to 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 $10k 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.
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.
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 YOUniversity 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.