The LaunchVT competition was held this year at the sophisticated Film House of the Performing Arts center overlooking a gorgeous view of Lake Champlain. Attendees could be seen hovering around a tempting collection of hors d'oeuvres before mingling back into the crowd, exchanging business cards and excited conversation about the seven finalists. All finalists would have the chance to pitch their businesses to a panel of four judges and one-hundred and fifty audience members to compete for a first place cash prize of $30,000 in addition to $45,000 of in-kind services, such as Beacon VT's, and a second place cash prize of $15,000 dollars and $25,000 of in-kind services.
The judges and audience were astonished by the talent and innovation the competitors exhibited as they delivered their business models. The finalists were as follows:
1. Andy Peters pitched his business idea of Agewize, a social media platform which helps family members and caregivers coordinate the care of their loved one in need without compromising their independence.
2. Greg Kelly, James Mix, and Randy Rowland introduced the audience and judges to Hortlabs, a cloud based technical system for monitoring and managing the growth of any kind of plant in indoor growing environments.
3. Chas Smith, Charles Smith, and Nikita Salmon talked about their product Sap! Maple Water, a carbonated drink made up of Vermont maple sap with about 40% of its water content boiled away.
4. Ken Puzey presented the panel with an incredible device called Solar Water Boiler, a portable unit which can be propped up and used anywhere to provide clean drinking water for up to a family of four.
5. Matt Giles and Cullen Jemison delivered a talk on their LaunchVT Collegiate Winning product, Thermouse, a moldable computer-gaming mouse based on the qualities of thermoplasticity.
6. Although a difficult decision, the panel of judges ultimately narrowed down the contestants to award second place to Julie Lineberger, creator of Wheel Pad. This ingenious product is a temporary, eco-friendly, handicapped-accessible bedroom and bathroom that can be attached to a home. Linenberger is an architect who developed the idea after consulting with a client who relied on a wheelchair as a result of an accident.
7. The judges honored Abbott Stark, Alex Stark, and Mark Rice with first place for their organic skincare line, Ogee. The line consists of about 10 luxuriously green skin care items, each based on jojoba seed oil (a product from the Arizona desert) which has a molecular structure similar to that of the human skin. The founders are fashion and beauty industry experts with a reputation for successfully creating high quality consumer products.
LaunchVT was happy to announce that this year’s competition had been a huge success. It is thanks to the hard work of mentors, sponsors, community members, and of course, the inspiring finalists that such an event can continue to enhance the vitality and ingenuity of the Vermont community.
Beacon VT was proud to sponsor the event and find the ideal intern for Ogee in their future ventures.