Beyond the Pitch

Nine VentureNEXT Startup Award Finalists WOW Judges in Pitch Competition

Pitch Day CollageWhen the nine finalists for the inaugural VentureNEXT Startup Awards took the stage on October 20 at Pitch Day, it was clear that there is something remarkable happening in Central Ohio’s innovation economy.

“At TechColumbus, we work in lockstep with entrepreneurs every day. Seeing that much determined talent from morning to night, we get accustomed to the quality of the startup community here,” said Alicia Oddi, TechColumbus director of marketing and communications.

Startup Awards shine the spotlight on Central Ohio’s entrepreneurial best

“Pitch Day, and really the entire VentureNext Startup Awards process, has been an opportunity for us to step back and see those entrepreneurs through the eyes of business leaders and investors, many of whom are getting to know them and their young companies in depth for the first time,” Oddi said. “It’s an impressive reminder of just how amazing Central Ohio entrepreneurs are.”

The nine finalists delivered ten-minute presentations to VentureNEXT judges, followed by ten minutes of questions and answers. 2014 Startup Award judges represented a cross-section of the region’s entrepreneurial and business community including angel investors, venture capitalists, and professional service firms that work with startups through TechColumbus’ Expert and First Connect Networks.

“Pitch Day was a great opportunity for these judges to have concentrated 20-minute conversations with nine of the most outstanding new company CEOs in the region,” Oddi said. “Finalists ranged from companies that were very early stage to firms that were farther along. Regardless of their stage of development, they demonstrated a strong grasp of two of the key success factors for any startup: understanding their customers and markets and building strategic partnerships based on mutually beneficial business relationships.”

Finalists give Central Ohio high marks as a great place to start a new company

Each finalist was also interviewed to get their from-the-trenches feedback on what it’s like being an entrepreneur in the Midwest. To the person, they talked about the specific help and support that they receive here from mentoring to investment and about the employee talent from interns to developers.

  • When we started the company, I was living in California. It was very challenging…trying to get attention. In Columbus, there is far greater interest in helping to develop small businesses.
  • The Columbus region is hot for tech innovation. There is incredible talent here. One of the best things about starting a company here is the loyalty you can get from your team.
  • As we build our business, we need this ecosystem; we could not have started this company on the West Coast.
  • In Central Ohio, and in all of Ohio, when you have success, there is a lot more support and enthusiasm. People want to be part of it.
  • We would not be here today without the support we’ve had. When you have someone write you a check the first time and you deposit it, they are saying we believe in this business. It is amazing. The wonderful support we get from folks here has been amazing to help us drive the business.
  • Starting a company in Central Ohio gives you access to a lot of talented people, people who have done startups and people who have worked in big companies. 
  • The fun part about Central Ohio is the closeness of the community. Everyone really wants companies to succeed, and that’s just the way it is.
  • I connect VentureNEXT to everything else that’s going on in Columbus. So many people are so accessible and happy to help.

2014 VentureNEXT Startup Awards finalists

1Biobent Polymers provides bio-composite polymers which offer comparable performance to pure petroleum-based plastics at highly competitive prices.

2Capture Education provides data-driven decision-making tools for grades K-12 to improve student outcomes and streamline workflows of the student placement and class scheduling processes.

3Jifiti is a mobile application that allows gifters to browse favorite stores and send a perfect gift digitally to a friend’s email, phone, or Facebook page. The recipient can keep or exchange the item—either through the application or in a retail store. Jifiti provides the thoughtfulness of a gift with the flexibility of a gift card.

4MoveEasy reduces the stress of moving consumers with the help of a comprehensive relocation platform that helps them plan, organize, and execute all move-related activities before and after their move without having to call multiple providers or research multiple websites.

5nChannel provides multichannel sellers with a cloud-based application that quickly connects a company’s existing web stores, back office systems, and point of sale software with unprecedented ease and flexibility, allowing companies to manage multichannel operations with ease and flexibility.

6Print Syndicate is a design, marketing, and technology company focused on creating timely, well-designed products available through its LookHuman.com and ActivateApparel.com e-commerce websites.

7Signet Accel is a dynamic data integration, management, and analytics company in the growing marketplace of big data healthcare analytics. Signet Accel provides technology solutions for a variety of health care and life science areas.

8Simple-Fill is developing an in-home compression unit to fill compressed natural gas (CHG) vehicles that will provide compressed natural gas at $1 per GGE.

9Updox provides customer relationship management (CRM) solutions for the healthcare industry, allowing independent medical practices to easily manage communications from one inbox, streamlining and enhancing relationships, information sharing, and collaboration between physicians, their patients and other providers.

2014 Startup Award winners will be announced at VentureNEXT  on Thursday, November 6

Startup Award winners will receive a custom award developed and built in partnership with the Columbus Idea Foundry using 3-D printing technology.

VentureNEXT Registration_short and be there when the doors open at the LC Pavilion from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. to see for yourself just how vibrant and exciting Central Ohio’s entrepreneurial sector is.

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