Monday, May 13, 2013

Recap of Merrimack Valley Sandbox Pitch Contest

The theme for Thursday night's Merrimack Valley Sandbox pitch contest was High Growth/Tech. Host for the evening was Moody, Famiglietti & Andronico in Tewskbury. They provided excellent space for both the pre-event networking an the presentations.

The Crowd
It was great to see so many kids at this kind of event. It takes a little of the mystery out of the adult business world for them. It was also great to see MIN entrepreneur, Bobbie Carlton out here in the wilds of the Merrimack Valley.

The Judges
The first place winner and the fan favorite was mino by ParaWare, a device that  tracks the wear of  your running shoes. The idea grew out of the founder's experience with an injury caused by worn out shoes. Sometimes the shoe is too worn to provide proper support before the wear becomes visible. The mino fits right in your shoe, keeps track of your usage, and lets you know when it's time for new running shoes.
Phil Colangelo Presenting

My personal favorite was the Robotic Feeding Arm developed by Philip Colangelo at UMass Lowell. It's a device that enables people with disabilities to feed themselves more independently.

A social networking theme emerged with three of the presenters:

  • Joanna de Pena presented Top Notch Network, a targeted social network that brings together students, social groups, and  businesses to create scholarship opportunities for students in need.
  • Margot Rutledge presented Career Rings, a  web-based platform that brings together college students and recent college graduates in small online workshops with coaches, to develop career building skills for today's job market.
  • Nick Zeckets  presented QuadWrangle, an  app to connect alumni and their colleges more directly to  build fundraising and to facilitate career networking.
In addition to the scheduled presenters, two wildcards were drawn from a hat: Pet Chance, which helps pet owners raise money for veterinary care through crowdfunding, and, a network that brings together musicians and venues as well as music fans. Pet Chance has a  great idea and gave a great presentation. came prepared with slides even though they weren't on the program. Both added a lot to the night.

While the judges jotted down notes after each presentation, attendees had the chance to make short pitches of their own. That gave people a chance to identify folks to be sure to seek out for networking after the awarding of the prize checks. All this made for a rich experience of both formal and informal networking.

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