The 2013 Charlotte Venture Challenge Finalists
Consumer Products Category Finalists
Tapity is a mobile app design company that designs apps for clients and for our own portfolio. We won an Apple design award for our Grades 2 app in 2011. We are now developing Really Reading, an interactive book for the iPad that teaches children to read. It is based on a scientifically-proven and thoroughly tested method of teaching reading. We are incorporating that method into a fun and engaging iPad app that a young child can use by themselves, step-by-step, until he or she is reading comfortably at a second-grade level. Initially we will market the app through Apple’s App Store to the approximately 90 million parents and grandparents of U.S. children who are between the ages of four and seven. We can later expand to sell to schools, school systems, and preschool/after school care facilities through an education publisher or distributor.
Brush Fairy is a subscription toothbrush service that makes brushing magical! To participate, parents simply go to our website, select toothbrushes for the whole family and then sit back and relax knowing that brand new toothbrushes will be delivered to their door step every 3 months, just like the dentist recommends. Kids don’t just receive a great new toothbrush; they get a personalized package, complete with a post card from the Brush Fairy detailing them on her adventures traveling the world, creating a fun, magical experience to get them excited about brushing!
Greenbug, Inc. manufactures and sells effective, green and completely safe pest control products for People, Pets, Indoors and Outdoors using cedar as the active ingredient. Greenbug products are EPA exempt (safe enough to not require registration) and are university proven effective with more than 14,000 units sold and not one has been returned for lack of performance. The Greenbug Injector System is our patent-pending mechanism that integrates with an existing irrigation system to distribute Greenbug for Outdoors so that everywhere water is directed becomes safely pest free. The Greenbug Injector System will safely eliminate mosquitoes, fire ants, mole crickets, fleas, all garden pests, etc. but cause no harm to humans, animals or the environment. The Greenbug Injector System will be sold through a network of Landscape Professionals who will benefit from the recurring revenue stream generated by refills of the systems. Using Greenbug is the ‘green’ way to wipe out bugs!
Life Science and Biotechnology Category Finalists
WeRx is an impact startup that has created a proprietary web and mobile platform allowing consumers to find the lowest price on their prescription medications at local pharmacies. The platform can save anyone money but the heart of this venture is to help the people who need it most. Over 70 million Americans lack prescription drug coverage and have to make a decision of paying retail price for their needed medications or simply stop taking their medication due to financial constraints. These retail prices can vary up to 16X from one pharmacy to another on the same block. The WeRx applications can educate, provide discounts and arm consumers with the tools they need to afford their medication and prevent future health complications. In just a few seconds on the WeRx platform consumers can save up to 80% on their medications by simply filling their prescriptions at the lowest cost pharmacy in their neighborhood. With our continued product development and key partnerships, there is no doubt that WeRx will raise awareness and save lives.
Urova Medical is a urological startup dedicated to the treatment of stress urinary incontinence, a substantial women’s health problem characterized by the involuntary leakage of urine during movement. This embarrassing, uncomfortable condition affects one in three adult women and often leads to sexual difficulty, sleep disturbance, and psychosocial distress. With a lack of safe, effective alternatives, patients currently spend an average of $1150 per year on adult diapers, incontinence pads, and laundry costs. Founded by a skilled team of urologists and biomedical engineers sharing a common goal, Urova Medical has developed a minimally-invasive silicone implant that effectively and permanently restores continence while eliminating the serious complications associated with surgical slings, the current standard of care. This technology features a low-risk, single-incision operation with consistent results and swift recovery times that can potentially be done as an office-based procedure, representing a paradigm shift in the surgical repair of stress urinary incontinence.
Subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), or bleeding on the brain, is a significant and commonly encountered problem. It is typically caused by leaking aneurysms in arteries of the brain. There is a very high death and complication rate, including strokes and re-bleeding, leading to overwhelming medical costs. Approximately 1-5% of the entire United States population harbor these ticking time bombs. Current treatments include endovascular coiling and clip ligation. Endovascular coiling is a procedure where the surgeon threads a catheter through the leg up to the brain aneurysm to deploy coils that clot the aneurysm. In clip ligation, the surgeon manually places a titanium clip across the neck of the aneurysm. Notably, clipping these aneurysms has been shown in large trials to lead to lower re-bleeding rates and more secure aneurysms. The problem with today’s clips is that they are made of metal (typically titanium), which causes severe artifact on CT and MRI scans when a person undergoes medical imaging, preventing accurate diagnosis and treatment of complications. We have invented the first ZERO artifact aneurysm clip. Widespread use of our clips could significantly reduce the cost both of treating the aneurysms, and the post-operative complications.
New Energy and High Tech Category Finalists
Sustainable Ethanol Technologies
Gasoline sold in the US today includes 9% ethanol, a high-octane liquid fuel that boosts the octane rating of gasoline and reduces national fossil fuel consumption. The US consumes more than 13 billion gallons of domestically produced ethanol annually. Currently, all of this ethanol is produced from corn kernels grown for human and livestock consumption. High costs of corn, constituting more than 80% of ethanol production costs, eliminate profits for ethanol producers. Ethanol can, however, be produced using less expensive raw materials. Sustainable Ethanol Technologies (SET) has developed an extremely low-cost process for ethanol production using plant-based waste materials. We produce cellulosic ethanol using materials derived from plants: leaves, stems, trunks, paper, cardboard. There is enough waste biomass in the US to produce over 5 billion gallons of ethanol per year simply using discarded materials. In addition, our costs are 75% less than the costs of corn ethanol, and 80% less than the costs of other cellulosic ethanol. Our patent-pending process is the only existing method to produce sustainable, renewable, clean, and profitable liquid fuel. Our products are both ethanol and intellectual property licensing to maximize production of sustainable fuels.
Bio-Adhesive Alliance Inc.
Bio-Adhesive Alliance is a start-up company (spin-out from NC A&T State University) that has developed an innovative technology to produce bio-adhesive (liquid asphalt) from swine manure. The technology improves pavement quality while it provides an improved and transformative approach for swine manure treatment.
While the bio-adhesive has several applications in multiple industries, our initial application is for the liquid asphalt which is used in pavement construction. The liquid asphalt is sold to asphalt blending companies to be used in pavement and road construction applications. The bio-adhesive is more resistant to freezing and cold temperature and improves the pavement resistibility to cracking. It also reduces the energy consumption for pavement construction and is more environmentally friendly compared to that of the petroleum-based asphalt. Due to its chemical and rheological properties the bio-adhesive enables us to use more recycled asphalt in making new roads and pavements which reduces liquid asphalt consumption in road construction. This technology provides a sustainable and cost-effective solution to swine manure treatment while reduces pavement construction and maintenance cost.
StarkPower has developed innovative lithium batteries with internal controls that, when compared to lead-acid batteries or other lithium batteries, greatly improve performance, life and reliability. StarkPower batteries work for starter and energy storage applications and, on a global scale, meet OEM and aftermarket requirements. In the past, engineers designed lithium batteries into small consumer products, because they provided long life and reliable operation. StarkPower has solved the problem of extending the same benefits to a much wider range of products and it offers direct replacement batteries for lead-acid batteries without any equipment modifications. StarkPower “Computerized Battery” design weighs up to 80% less than lead-acid batteries, it lasts 3-4 times longer and priced similarly even in engine starting applications, where cranking power is a requirement.
Dot Metrics Technologies
Clean air, water and surfaces along with energy efficient polymer curing are significant global market needs. Dot Metrics Technologies provides a revolutionary instant-on UV LED system technology meeting these needs and offering an attractive revenue potential of ~$20million. The most energy efficient disinfection system on the market, the UV Pearl™, is the world’s first water disinfection system that integrates UV LEDs. The UV Pearl™ provides an efficiency >20X over existing systems utilizing mercury based UV lamps. Based on the same technology platform, Dot Metrics Technologies has two additional “Plug & Play” UV LED based products: 1) UVinaire™, which is an intelligent UV source and 2) UV Tetra™, which is a hot swappable, modular UV LED unit that can be used to create random curing arrays fitting customer unique configuration requirements, an attribute currently not available in the market. Both of these products provide customers with programmable “Plug & Play” systems for disinfecting fluids and surfaces, and curing polymers. Dot Metrics, a creative technology translator is positioned to play a dominant role in the future UV LED market, which features a predicted CAGR of over 43% through 2016.
IT and Informatics Category Finalists
Northington Dahlberg Research
Northington Dahlberg Research develops and executes, financial trading and investment algorithms for automated portfolio management, algorithmic trading, and market making operations. ND Research’s breakthrough innovation is an entirely new class of volatility measuring analytics and implementation methodologies. Financial institutions struggle to incorporate meaningful volatility analytics because the specialized data required is expensive and difficult to obtain. ND Research algorithms use only historical price data.
This makes advanced volatility analysis fast, inexpensive, and scalable to any asset class across global markets. Our volatility-based analytics are self adaptive to security/market conditions in real-time, with statistically predictive characteristics. With time to action being critical, large market participants gain a significant strategic and tactical advantage for acting on opportunity and risk.
For schools, businesses and organizations, RoboCent provides a user-friendly platform to send text and call alerts to their subscribers. With plans starting at $5/month, RoboCent is making mass communication accessible to the 30 million organizations and businesses in America without a text or call notification system. A cloud-based platform, RoboCent is the fastest, most reliable and affordable system on the market. Since launching in June of 2012, we’ve been used by over 300 organizations to send 12 million messages, generating revenues of $140,000.
Intrinsic Marks International
Intrinsic Marks International (IMI) is Mike Weaver’s technology incubator which supported the creation of the patented IMI smartShelf™ that enables real-time, large shelf area item tracking. To complement the IMI smartShelf™, IMI SHELFMETRICS™ software was created to translate shelf ‘change data’ into actionable information for timely product restocking, minimizing out-of-stock events, theft alerts sent to smartphones, new product market research, management/labor performance metrics and much more.
Our initial pilot opportunity is a global beer producer seeking to manage remote cold stocking inventory to ensure product supply and freshness. As a roll-to-roll printed sensor product the IMI smartShelf easily scales to meet high volume requirements. It is compatible with industry standard Planogram software tools that currently define product layout on shelves and is flexible enough to be configured to monitor most consumer products. IMI SHELFMETRICS™ will spin out from IMI and go to market as a Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) business. Upon signing a multi-year DaaS contract, SHELFMETRICS™ provides the IMI smartShelf infrastructure at no charge thereby avoiding capital budget cycle delays and enabling an rapid client ROI. SHELFMETRICS is a low overhead, high margin business with global reach into many business areas.
Graduate Student Ventures Category Finalists
BENANOVA is a science startup that has developed a cost-efficient environmentally benign particle system (EbNPs) made of natural materials, which can leverage the functional properties of bioactive agents. This in- novative, patent-pending technology was developed at NC State University in collaboration with the EPA. Func- tionalized proprietary EbNPs have a 100x higher efficacy compared to the common nanosilver. We are presently developing highly efficient, application-customized and environmentally benign replacements for silver nanoparticle antimicrobials. We also foresee that our particles will be effective in environmental remediation and agricultural applications. The ability to reduce the amount of chemicals used in plant protection will en- able the agriculture industry to lower the environmental impact and cost of crop protection products, as well as decrease the stress on arable soil to increase yield.
ProVazo’s innovative new medical device introduces efficiencies into blood sampling in clinical care settings while also improving upon care standards. Current blood sampling techniques and devices can be painful, incon- venient, and imprecise. They are also burdensome for hospital staff; ICU nurses can spend up to 20% of their time collecting blood samples. ProVazo has created an accurate, low cost, minimally invasive, and easy-to-use catheter for the sampling of blood. This catheter is designed for easy market adoption and fits seamlessly into current industry workflows and protocols. It enables nurses to repeatedly and efficiently sample central blood with no disturbance to the patient. ProVazo’s patent pending device, inspired by the mosquito’s ability to painlessly withdraw blood, will revolutionize the field of blood sampling.
Tarian Orthotics is a medical device business specializing in shoulder braces for active individuals. The company’s flagship product is the Tarian Shoulder Stabilizer, a brace intended to lower the risk of shoulder dislocation in patients looking to return to high-impact activities post-injury. This product will be more supportive, less restrictive, and less cumbersome than the most commonly prescribed braces available on the market. Our target customers are high-profile athletes and U.S. soldiers. Upon a successful launch of this brace, Tarian Orthotics seeks to develop complementary product offerings to fill holes in the shoulder therapy industry and expand its business portfolio.
Undergraduate Student Venture Category Finalists
Klimb Ventures, INC is a company that offers a patent pending flat folding, assembly free, reusable, cost effective storage box. The product was conceived after a bumbled moving experience at Emory University last year. Not only is the design for this box sturdier than the boxes currently on the market, but it also requires less material for construction and eliminates the need for assembly. The protected design can be implemented in several different materials, sizes and colors, which will separate its brand from any other container brand. The goal is to get the box in front of everyone, expand too many retail stores and offer a whole line of flat folding, easy to use storage boxes to cater to just about any storage need out there.
NoireNaturals, LLC is a completely all-natural line of hair care products, designed to cater to the unique needs of kinky, curly, and wavy hair. The goal of this product line is to help ease the anxiety and challenges that come along with maintaining textured hair types, using high-quality materials. Our mission is to ease the anxiety and challenges of maintaining textured hair, using all-natural ingredients. As of late, kinky and curly hair can be seen almost everywhere; along with this new wave of natural hair also comes the challenge of learning how to maintain it. Consumers are more informed about product ingredients, and are requesting them to be all-natural and certified organic; corporations are becoming equally as clever with ways to mislead them, making it difficult to find a legitimately “all-natural” product, especially at a reasonable price – these are two problems that we aim to solve.
Pax Backpacks is a for-profit social venture that aims to give every student in the United States the opportunity to succeed in school while providing our customers with a fashionable, durable canvas backpack at an affordable price. For every backpack we sell, we donate 22% of the proceeds to a non-profit community partner in the region where that bag was sold. Why the odd percentage? Twenty two percent of children in the United States are growing up in poverty. That works out to about 16.2 million children. At Pax, we think the best way to address this crisis is by connecting disadvantaged students to the resources and mentoring they need to succeed in school and take control of their future. We choose our community partners based on a demonstrated track record of responsibly and ethically outfitting students to meet their educational goals. When you buy Pax, you get a great looking backpack at a competitive price, and you take a step towards packing up poverty in your community.