Brace yourself for this recap, because the event was incredible! From Corporate Wellness to Robotics to Pharma to Solar Energy to Mobile Apps; from South America (Chile), Western Africa (Nairobi), and North America (Massachusetts, San Diego, and Cleveland), this idea challenge really demonstrated our community’s ingenuity, diversified industries and geographic agnosticism!
5 finalists pitched for 5 minutes for their chance to win. Judges and presenters joined from all over the world – 5 continents to be exact! Thanks to the event sponsors, the winning team will receive $5,000 cash and $5,000 worth of legal services from Cooley LLP! Salesforce.org, Pledge 1%, Box.org, Startup Grind, Cooley, CrunchBase, and the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center have helped make this event possible, and we thank them greatly!
Julie Trell, advisor to Ideator, moderated the event. Julie kicked it off by having the judges introduce themselves. It was 1am GMT for Bindi Karia out of the UK, who was up first. She’s worked for Silicon Valley Bank in the UK building their entrepreneurial banking business, and also launched what is now known as Microsoft Ventures in London.
Charles Hudson is Managing Partner of Precursor Venture, a pre-seed capital firm, in San Francisco. Previously he was Partner at SoftTech for 5 years. He’s also a final round judge for the TechCrunch Disrupt NY Startup Battlefield event!
Kara Goldin is founder and CEO of Hint Water. Based in San Francisco, she realized sweeteners were not making her healthy (not just sugar but also diet sweeteners) and thus she decided to solve her own problem by creating great tasting water infused with fruit with nothing else added to it.
Vicki Sanders loves pitch competitions, proclaiming “entrepreneurship is the freest form of expression on the planet”. A five-time founder, Vicki has taken a company public. She’s mentored thousands of entrepreneurs and is based out of Toronto.
Let’s dive on into the first pitch. John Mbindyo from Nairobi stayed up until 3am for his pitch of FreshBox: Solar powered perishable farm produce storage. “Food loss,” he said, “results in income losses to the tune of 15% or more for farmers and retailers within the continent”. FreshBox targets small scale farmers and helps them store perishable items. His team is currently running a pilot program and finding demand is above what they can handle. John is a seasoned entrepreneur with 9 years of experience in Logistics and Supply Chain. His highly capable team includes a CTO who “has designed nearly more than 50% of the banks in East Africa”!
Next we had Sneha Jayaprakash and Winnie Xu out of San Diego present Giventure, a web and mobile application that connects real volunteers with real community service opportunities. They believe (and we do, too!) believe that people have the power to solve global issues at a local scale. Their solution is a personal volunteer assistant. Their target market is millennials as they make up the largest generation of the workforce. “4 out of 5 millennials want to volunteer but they aren’t because it’s hard to find suitable opportunities” the team said. The pair created their team to solve their own problem and have since found such demand that they have been working on the business for 3 years alongside their studies at UC San Diego!
Cole Parker out of Boston presented Jodone (pronounced: joe-done), a.k.a. Software for Robotics. Jodone “combines the hand-eye coordination and problem-solving abilities of human beings, with the speed and stamina of robots.” His team has been testing the product at a Waste-to-Energy (WTE) plant and have been seeing an increase in top line rev by 30% a year. Since WTE plants are capped by the weight of trash they can receive to dispose of, they generate the majority of their revenue from the reception of this trash, aka “tipping fees”. And “any space wasted by burning items that could be re-sold is a double dip of lost revenue”. However, existing technology and human labor are not a cost-effective solution. “Why not use robots?” you might ask. Robots are just too dumb. Jodone’s solution is a hybrid. And since they’re seeing an average of $25MM additional potential revenue per plant, management is willing to do a rev-share program of 50%, which equates to $12.5MM profit per plant, per year, for both parties. In the US and beyond their TAM (total addressable market) reaches $11.6B. Can you say market potential? Wow.
Next up Andrea Kruchik Krell and Stephanie Knopel presented PersonalHeroes: The positive impact revolution. Recognition & Engagement for the 21st Century. Their solution is a Software as a Service that measures people’s and organization’s positive impact in the world. Their idea came about after realizing there is a lack of relevant recognition in the workplace. “This need of information of positive impact is a generational shift. 40% of millennials believe they can make a global difference and they choose a place to work based upon the company’s positive impact. The problem is, 49% will leave their jobs in the 1st year for not being recognized, costing companies $470B a year.” And thus PersonalHeroes was born. A bottom-up solution, the Mobile App empowers employees to recognize one another’s daily accomplishments. Since rolling out the product to Coca-Cola in Atlanta, their initial results showed “that positive impact has a direct correlation on other things at work like efficiency, health…” The solution was adopted by 33% of the workforce in the headquarters in Atlanta and quickly “virialized to 11 countries around the world in 48 hours”. The campaign was initially only for Atlanta! Now those are some great results!
Last but not least, Noah Rosenblatt from Cleveland, Ohio pitched Vaylenx: We kill mosquitos, not the environment. Noah opened with, “What if I told u by this time next year, there would be a 60% reduction in mosquito spread diseases like malaria, Zika, etc. $24B problem. We are developing CNP-1, a cheap to produce, long lasting, and environmentally friendly nanoparticle larvicide”. Their team plans to be commercial ready in the coming months. The idea came about when they first visited Guyana and saw first-hand the breeding water for the mosquitos and the first towns to be hit by the Zika virus. Since at the current moment no patents exist in the market. Their pitch outlined two revenue streams. They’ve connected with and received verbal agreements with key stakeholders in Guyana to test CNP-1. In light of recent news, Vaylenx is solving the problem at the right time: “U.S. Senate set to approve $1.1 billion in Zika virus funding”!
The judges were allotted extra time to review their notes, the video, and also the idea profiles on Ideator. Afterwards Ideator tallied up the votes, and on Friday night we were proud to announce the results:
1st Place went to Jodone
2nd place went to Vaylenx
3rd place went to Giventure
Congrats to all contestants! We look forward to helping all ideators, those who competed or not, accomplish their goals, and to continue conversations with our Judges on the Ideator platform!
Contestants fielded questions such as: What’s your plan of bootstrapping your way there? What are your plans for global as I can see your product solving a massive problem globally? What is the willingness to pay? What’s your go-to-market strategy? What’s your demand looking like? To catch the answers, watch here.