Wednesday, April 9, a half dozen Vanderbilt students packed into CTTC’s conference room to mingle with some of the areas top investors and entrepreneurs. The students were the finalists in the inaugural Flash Pitch, a competition that challenges students to pitch startup ideas in a mere 90 seconds.
“Vanderbilt students are some of the brightest minds in the world,” said Peter Rousos, Director of Economic and New Venture Development, “and we know they have innovative ideas. The intent of Flash Pitch is to give entrepreneurial students a chance to pitch their startup ideas in an accelerated environment and to receive feedback from experienced entrepreneurs and investors. We wanted to simulate a real-world situation in which the students are forced to make a very quick, lucid and positive pitch about a business or product concept which will engage the listener – a potential investor, customer or partner.”
The students’ startup ideas ranged from apps that compare healthcare costs to a service that recommends PCs based on customer needs. A panel of four judges – Vic Gatto, Founder of Jumpstart Foundry; Shawn Glinter, CEO of Nanoferix; Mark Harris, CEO of NextGxDx; and Yiaway Yeh, Director of Innovation in Mayor Karl Dean’s Office - analyzed startup potential and the pitch delivery.
The night’s big winners (pictured above) were:
- 1st place: Will Hedgecock, a pinpoint GPS system
- 2nd place: John Boyd, PC comparison tool
- 3rd place: Ravi Atreya, software that enhances and simplifies clinical documentation
“The caliber of ideas and pitches was excellent,” said Rigved Joshi, Manager of New Ventures at CTTC. “The judges were impressed. We were impressed, and now we have three strong startup ideas that we will pump support into and hopefully help launch.”
The biggest surprise of the night came when the three winners learned they would be placed in the top 30 applicant pool in JSF’s highly competitive business accelerator. The program has been known to get upwards of 150 applications in a given season out of which 10 best business ideas make the cut for the yearly cohort. JSF is expected to announce its final ten in early May. The program commences May 18th.
“We have worked with Jumpstart Foundry for the past year and a half,” Joshi said. “This collaboration provides Vanderbilt related entrepreneurs with access to programming, mentors and strategic networks developed by JSF through its yearly accelerator initiative.”
In addition to top placement in the JSF business accelerator competition, the winners also received cash prizes and will receive one-on-one support from CTTC New Ventures Team as they evaluate the launch of their startups or products.