The clock was a brutal taskmaster. Every eight minutes a new presenter moved to the front of the room to pitch their product to a panel of five judges and sundry onlookers huddled behind them seated on hard metal chairs. Three minutes would go by and the timekeeper would warn the speaker they only had a minute left. One minute to convince the judges their business idea was worthy of advancing to the next round…the round that would determine their shot at $150,000 in funding.
That was the scene at Church & State today as the StartSLC pitch competition kicked off. For the next two Wednesdays the scene will remain the same as dozens of startups compete for valuable funding in three different categories.
In four hours 17 companies each uniquely made their case to get to the next round. Judges will decide the fate of all entries save two to be decided by popular vote. Despite being billed as a tech startup competition, many product companies have made the cut. Based on today’s presentations, medical device companies seem to be dominating the product space. Xablecath left the judges without questions as CEO Lisa Dunlea delivered a compelling, articulate and effective presentation about her company’s surgery catheter technology.
Gamification was the word of the day with three different companies in different industries using human nature to improve business and increase profits. Iactionable uses game theory to improve employee engagement and retention. It is the only remaining business from Boom Startup’s first cohort in 2010. They are currently on a growth trajectory and posted revenue of $600,000 in 2014. WordUp teaches people foreign languages by matching players in different countries to play games online. Language retention is greater in full immersion and game playing is social. Finally, one of the best presentations of the day came from Quotadeck which calls itself the “cold call killer.” Salespeople make lead referrals and prospects self-identify in their double opt-in lead portal. A point system rewards users without giving the “ick” factor cash based referrals tend to create.
Today’s standout performances include Deqor, QuotaDeck, Xablecath, EvaXo and Roomchoice. Competitions like this tend to reward well presented plans and not always the most viable business ideas. Falling into that category is 32ATPs which wasn’t well suited for the time constraints four minutes bring. Founded by Carol George, 32ATPs has the ambitious goal of re-engineering battery power for consumer electronic devices using a biologically based super capacitor. Modeled on the mitochondria found at the cellular level in all life, the super capacitor would create renewable energy for consumer devices, provide superior power capability and reduce electronic waste. 32ATPs is a compelling choice for fan favorite because of the potential upside should such technology be brought to market.
As this article is being written, the clock still ticks at Church & State. A presenter is speaking or getting ready to speak and the judges are silently evaluating who will make it to the next round. This cycle will repeat itself until eight p.m. Next Wednesday it will begin again for another 12 hours. Seating is open, so if you’re in the Salt Lake area, feel free to stop by and check it out.