2012-2013‎ > ‎

Grand Finale

Congratulations to Matt Pleatman '13 and Refresh Innovations, winners of the $50,000 Grand Prize in the 14th Annual Duke Start-Up Challenge!
Missed the event?  Watch it on YouTube
And read our interview with Matt Pleatman from the Fall.

And thank you to David Cummings '02 for endowing the Frank Borchardt Undergraduate Prize Fund!

Additional Cash Prizes included:
  • Clean Energy Track ($10,000) – Refrackt 
    • Prize money from Duke University Energy Initiative, matched by Duke Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative
  • Women-led Startups Track ($10,000) – Camras Vision
  • Undergrad-led Startups Track ($10,000) – Mati Tea
  • Social Enterprises Track ($1,000) – Mati Tea
  • AARP Foundation Prize ($5,000) – Agility4Life
    • Startup that best meets the needs of low-income senior citizens
  • Alumni / Faculty / Staff Winner ($10,000) – Wastewater and Sewer Solutions
  • Semi-Finalist Elevator Pitch Winner ($1,000) - NeuroSpire

----Original Event Information Follows

All Duke students, alumni, faculty, staff, parents, and the general public are welcome to join us for the Grand Finale of the 14th Annual Duke Start-Up Challenge. Over 100 Duke teams entered the Duke Start-Up Challenge this year. At the Grand Finale event, three teams will give their final pitch, and one will win the $50,000 Grand Prize. Join us and help us select the winner. Be sure to check out this exciting event. 

  • Grand Finale of the 14th Annual Duke Start-Up Challenge with David Cummings '02
  • Thursday, April 11, 2013
  • 7:30 – 9:30 p.m, followed by a networking reception with food and drink (positive ID required)
  • Geneen Auditorium, Fuqua School of Business
  • RSVP on Facebook
    • One audience member will win an iPad Mini. Must be in attendance to win.
    • And get your photo taken with the Blue Devil!  He'll be there before the event.
  • In the case of a tie, the live audience vote will help determine the winner; bring your mobile phone to vote, one vote per person, must be in attendance as the votes will be verified by a hand count, if needed.
  • Watch the livestream on Duke's YouTube Channel 
About David Cummings

David has been an entrepreneur for over a decade. In early 2001, David founded Hannon Hill, which was recognized as the 247th fastest growing company in the U.S. by Inc. magazine as part of the Inc. 500 awards. In early 2007, David co-founded Pardot, which was recognized by the Atlanta Business Chronicle as the fastest growing technology company in 2010. Pardot was named to the Inc. 500 in 2012 coming in at number 172. Pardot was acquired by ExactTarget in 2012. David also co-founded Clickscape real estate technology (clickscape.com), Rigor web performance management (rigor.com), and SalesLoft sales intelligence (salesloft.com). 

David serves on the board of the Atlanta chapter of the Entrepreneur's Organization and on the board of Venture Atlanta. A native of Tallahassee, Florida, David earned a bachelor of science degree in economics from Duke University and studied at the London School of Economics. David blogs at DavidCummings.org, tweets at (@davidcummings), and is author of the book Startup Upstart and co-author of the book Think Outside the Inbox, both available on Amazon.com.

The following judges will help determine the winning team

Grant Allen ‘00, SVP at ABB Technology Ventures
Melissa Bernstein ’87, Co-founder/ Co-CEO of Melissa & Doug
Bob Creeden, Executive Director of the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network
David Cummings ‘02, serial entrepreneur
Derek Holt ‘09, Managing Director at Startup America Partnership
T. Reid Lewis ’84, Co-Founder and President of Group Logic
Rich Lee, Former CEO of Hosted Solutions
Karen LeVert, President and CEO of Southeast TechInventures, Inc.
Michael Noel ‘11, Founder and President of Acorn Innovestments, LLC
Jim Russell, Chief Innovation Officer at McKinney
Jim Scheinman ‘88, Founder of Maven Ventures Growth Labs
Malay Shah ’97 ‘04, Piedmont Angel Network
Katie Finnegan ‘10, (remote judge) Co-founder of Hukkster
Shereen Shermak ’89 (remote judge), Investor at TechStars Boston
Ryan Spoon ‘03, (remote judge) SVP of Product Development, ESPN

The following three student teams will be competing for $50,000. They will each give an 8 minute pitch followed by 7 minutes of Q&A with our judges.

Click on the links to view a video made by each startup.
  • Camras Vision (Read our interview) - 67 million people worldwide are afflicted with glaucoma, a leading cause of irreversible blindness.  The only way to prevent vision loss for the millions of glaucoma sufferers is to lower eye pressure. This is currently treated with drugs and surgical interventions, yet these treatments are unpredictable and have suboptimal success rates. Camras Vision has created a revolutionary device, the Camras Shunt, to treat glaucoma in a safe and effective manner. It has the potential to usurp the drug and surgical markets by being the first glaucoma treatment to provide personalized care that can be adjusted for the lifetime of the patient to predictably and accurately lower eye pressure.     
    • Lucinda Camras, Pratt School of Engineering, 2013, lucinda.camras@duke.edu
  • Refrackt (Read our interview) - Hydraulic fracturing (colloquially known as fracking) is the process that gas companies have been using to extract oil and natural gas from “tight” reservoirs, and it has been a primary driver of North America’s recent natural gas boom. Despite the boon that hydraulic fracturing technology represents for the US’s slowly recovering economy, there are many opponents to its use. A large point of contention between industry and local communities are the environmental concerns related to water consumption and contamination. The hydro-fracture process is extremely water intensive, consuming up to 5,000,000 gallons of freshwater per well (FracFocus, 2012). On top of that, the gas and oil plays where hydraulic fracturing is used are often in regions already under severe water stress (i.e. the Eagle Ford Shale in Texas). To make matters worse, the water used in fractured wells is mixed with harmful chemicals, which optimize the number of fractures created and held open but present a challenge for disposal. Currently, the options for separating chemicals after the completion of a well can be costly and above-ground storage or transport represents a risk for leaks and spills. Even with the host of challenges and questions that surround water and hydro-fracturing, the industry has been moving forward at a blistering pace. One estimate mentioned that there are roughly 11,400 wells that use hydraulic fracturing each year in the United States (Ehrenberg, 2012). These numbers are likely to rise as states that initially abstained from allowing the process begin to sort out their regulations and join the fray. Each well that is drilled represents a potential for Refrackt to have a positive economic and environmental impact. Refrackt offers a clear solution to many of the water issues that are posed by the oil and gas industry. Using vacuum membrane distillation technology we will be able to safely and economically separate the water from the dissolved solids, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and organic compounds onsite. Our mobile system will provide drillers with the ability to clean their water onsite and either recycle it to cut costs or release it back into the municipal water system.     
    • Daniel Chow, Nicholas School of the Environment, 2014, daniel.chow@duke.edu 
    • Judith Winglee, Pratt School of Engineering, 2016, judith.winglee@gmail.com
    • Mark Panny, Nicholas School of the Environment, 2014, mark.panny@duke.edu
    • Victor Smith, Nicholas School of the Environment, 2014, victor.smith@duke.edu
  • Refresh Innovations (Read our interview)- The Contact Lens Refresh Card is an ultra slim, all-in-one contact lens case and multipurpose solution package. Our patent-pending design is the size of a credit card, disposable and convenient to carry at all times.     
    • Matt Pleatman, Pratt School of Engineering, 2013, matt.pleatman@refreshcards.com
    • Collin Walter, Trinity, 2007, matt.pleatman@refreshcards.com
The remaining 10 teams will participate in an elevator pitch showcase, and be eligible for a $1,000 prize

Click on the links to view a video made by each startup.
  • FishCycle (Read our interview) - Recycling fish byproduct and redistributing to places in need.     
    • Albert Hu, Pratt School of Engineering, 2014, ah196@duke.edu
    • Mike Yuefeng Du, Pratt School of Engineering, 2014, yd27@duke.edu
  • Gopinion (Read our interview) - Gopinion is a mobile and web customer relations application that aims to give businesses private, accurate feedback from their customers.     
    • Chris Muto, Trinity, 2013, chris@gopinion.com 
    • Joe Tagliente, Colby College, 2013
  • Jobbertunity (Read our interview) - The job-search process is an overwhelming and often tedious one, especially for students. There are no set paths, no set deadlines, no set destinations, and there is an overwhelming amount of information to manage and track. Currently, there is no single solution to manage all the job-search related information in one place. Job-seekers are forced to maintain company notes, contact lists, emails, task lists, interview preparation materials separately, and information often tends to get lost or misplaced or overlooked. Manually maintaining all this information using existing tools like Excel and Outlook is time consuming and challenging. Jobbertunity (http://www.jobbertunity.com) aims to take the stress and uncertainty out of the job search process by taking care of housekeeping tasks, so that job seekers can focus on the more important things.  Think of it as your own personal assistant for all things related to job-search!  From identifying and unearthing new companies to keeping a track of contacts and jobs, Jobbertunity provides a one-stop location where users can manage their target companies, contacts, notes, tasks, reminders and interview preparation materials.  By integrating with existing tools that job seekers already use such as LinkedIn and indeed.com, we make it easy for our users to get organized and land their dream jobs.     
    • Ameya Kulkarni, Fuqua School of Business, 2013, ak240@duke.edu
    • Amy Vaduthalakuzhy, Fuqua School of Business, 2013, av84@duke.edu
    • Judith & James (Read our interview) - Judith and James is an apparel company that turns a simple clothing purchase into a visible act of charity. We manufacture our clothing ethically, providing opportunity and stability to vulnerable women in Kenya. We provide manufacturing services for small-scale designers who want to ensure that their products are made ethically and to the highest standards of quality. We work with designers to help them differentiate their products in a competitive market and making manufacturing accessible for new players in the industry. Additionally we will launch our own brand inspired by vibrant African textiles and classic American shapes. As we grow we will be able to employ more and more Kenyan women, widening our impact on development in Kenya. 
      • Sara Adam, Trinity, 2013, sara.adam@duke.edu
      • Anna Taylor, University of Arkansas, 2013, anna@judithandjames.com
    • LuxSano Biomedical (Read our interview) - Our product involves the combination of Ultraviolet C radiation with a pulsatile lavage portable device, which is the current standard of care for cleansing larger wounds during surgery.   The innovative use of these two technologies in tandem during surgery is expected have a 99%  efficiency in decreasing bacterial counts at the wound site (as opposed to 89% effectiveness with pulsatile lavage-only treatment). With hospitals facing increasing pressure from insurance companies to eliminate surgical-site infections and subsequent hospital care, this inexpensive and disposable device has the potential to save hospitals millions yearly.  Since the current pulsatile lavage market is highly commoditized, LuxSano has developed an Ultraviolet C attachment that can be added onto any current pulsatile lavage device to enhance the wound decontamination. LuxSano has created strategies for regulatory approval as well as an outsourced device manufacturing and distribution plan for the US. The markets for this UVC-pulsatile lavage will initially consist of orthopedic and trauma surgeries (over 1,000,000 of these are performed yearly in the US alone). With later adjustments to the device to make it more applicable to sensitive tissue treatment, the colorectal and pediatric markets will also be an option for LuxSano's sales.     
      • Jay Wilson, Pratt School of Engineering, 2013, jay.wilson@duke.edu 
      • Jack Archer, Trinity, 2013, jack.archer@duke.edu
      • Aimee Raleigh, Pratt School of Engineering, 2013, aimee.raleigh@gmail.com
      • Marshall Vingi, Trinity, 2014, marshall.vingi@duke.edu
      • Ringo Yen, Pratt School of Engineering, 2013, ringo.yen@duke.edu
    • Mati (Tea) Inc. (Read our interview) - Mati is a delicious, award-winning beverage. As an Honest Tea meets Izze juice, we offer an organic, low calorie, caffeinated, and carbonated tea. Our customers love Mati for its deliciously refreshing, energizing, and healthy qualities. In addition, Mati is eco- and budget- friendly thanks to the packaging.     
      • Tatiana Birgisson, Trinity, Dec. 2012, tatiana@matitea.com
    • NeuroSpire (Read our interview) - Traditional forms of market research are often limited by the extent to which individuals can identify and subsequently communicate their emotions and visceral / biological responses to researchers. Neuromarketing utilizes brain imaging technology to uncover raw, unfiltered reactions without the need for verbalization. Neuromarketing technology eliminates many of the biases and shortcomings typical of market research methods like focus groups and surveys. Our proven brain-wave based measures are validated by decades of neuroscience research and are currently used in marketing studies around the world.     
      • Jake Stauch, Trinity, 2014, jake.stauch@neurospire.com
      • Shilpi Kumar, Trinity, 2013, shilpi.kumar@duke.edu
    • Smart Metals (Read our interview) - At Duke, when you throw out trash, there are three types of receptacles in which to deposit it: 1) the garbage dumpster, 2) the paper products bin, and 3) the plastic products container. In April/May of 2012, we noticed an entire category of waste that was being deposited improperly. Numerous computers, microwaves, and refrigerators were tossed in dumpsters or left outside apartments and dormitories. Trashed at semester’s end by students who no longer needed college-sized appliances or wanted to upgrade, Duke is filling landfills with both valuable metals and harmful chemicals. And it is not just Duke—this issue also exists in the Durham community (and even nationally.) We wondered, how can we encourage the Duke community—and eventually Durham—to become more engaged in recycling products containing significant metal contents? Our solution uses an innovative economic model that incentivizes the community to recycle by creating a financial dialogue between local Durham businesses and the individuals that they serve.     
      • Shelly Li, Trinity 2015, shelly.li@duke.edu
      • Ben Schwab, Trinity 2015, benjamin.schwab@duke.edu
    • StumpworX, Inc (Read our interview) - StumpworX is devoted to improving prosthetic arm technology NOW—inexpensively, elegantly, and incrementally. We are creating a soft prosthetic socket constructed like today’s most advanced athletic shoes. By responding to the real needs and priorities of amputees, we make prosthetic arms more wearable, functional, and comfortable. The most used prosthetic arm device was 100 years old on October 29, 2012, but that's not the most significant problem in prosthetic arms. Half of patients don’t wear an arm at all, and 90 per cent of them cite fit and comfort as the reason. Even with high tech devices, suspension—how you attach it—is the key, and our soft socket addresses that need. A social enterprise, we engage users in helping shape our vision for the future of prosthetic arms through part ownership shared with all US Military arm amputees.     
      • Jonathan Kuniholm, Pratt School of Engineering, 2014, jfk3@duke.edu
    • VentureFarming (Read our interview) - The Challenge: Our industrial agriculture system has resulted in limited employment opportunities for new farmers. For every six American farmers over the age of 65, there is just one below 35 (Figure 1).  New farmers are not filling this gap because a system of challenges inhibits their success, including: high cost of land, lack of working capital, lack of business planning experience, low access to markets, high living expenses relative to income, volatile cash flows and limited experience. Current support systems such as government loans, technical assistance, and non-profit incubators fail to address the suite of challenges listed above and favor large-scale commodity operators. The Solution: VentureFarming is a scalable farm incubator that employs a risk diversification approach to launch and sustain new organic farmers. The VF model employs a systems framework to aggregate farmers, provide shared resources, and promote best practices in exchange for a lease fee.  Farmers benefit from affordable access to land, flexible rent arrangements, business training, expert agricultural mentorship, sales and marketing support, and inexpensive co-housing.  The supportive environment of a VentureFarm facilitates personal growth and professional success in young farmers, resulting in resilient and prosperous communities that eat healthier, live longer, and preserve the American agricultural tradition.     
      • David Nicola, Fuqua - Daytime MBA 2013, david.nicola@fuqua.duke.edu 
      • Jack Beuttell, Fuqua - Daytime MBA 2014, Nicholas MEM 2014

    In addition, congratulations to this Alumni / Faculty / Staff team for winning the $10,000 prize. 

    • Wastewater and Sewer Solutions LLC (Read our interview) - Although they’re not sexy, sewers are an integral part of the infrastructure in every modern community.  Using sewers to dispose of organic waste and dirty water provides for reduced incidence of disease and illness, a cleaner and more appealing environment, a more productive society, more efficient use of available water supplies, and greater flexibility to use available land. Sewers also come with many challenges, most commonly, lines often become blocked with a buildup of fats, oil, and grease (FOG) that causes pipes to flow less efficiently or to back up and overflow.  This causes problems ranging from unpleasant odors to severe flooding that damages property or cause illness.  Nearly 50% of service calls are due to FOG and overworked crews are often too busy removing blockages and cleaning overflows to perform maintenance inspections on the lines. Most blockages are discovered only after problems appear.  There are over 190 million people in 16,000 municipalities connected to more than 740,000 miles of public sewers in the U.S. alone.  With over 23,000 backups and overflows per year, cleaning up FOG related damage can cost in excess of $170B per year. The products traditionally used to treat and remove FOG pose health risks to maintenance crews, can be harmful to the pipes, and can lead to EPA violations; however, as lines need to be kept clear, many of these detrimental effects are tolerated because the chemicals are effective.  Less dangerous and more environmentally friendly products have produced “greener” solutions that don’t perform as well and end up costing more for both the chemicals as well as the labor needed to apply them correctly. Wastewater and Sewer Solutions LLC has been granted an exclusive license for sewer line cleaning of a patented cleaning mixture that is environmentally friendly, non-toxic, non-corrosive, and biodegradable that not only breaks up and dissolves FOG as well or better than the dangerous traditional cleaning chemicals, but also keeps FOG from reattaching to the lines for months.  This greatly reduces the risk of blockages and overflows, freeing up crews to do inspections and preventative maintenance that will avoid future problems more effectively.  This will ultimately save municipalities money by reducing costs due to overflow cleanup, overtime labor, EPA fines, sick leave due to chemical accidents, pipe and equipment damage due to corrosion, and additional chemicals needed to neutralize the harsh chemicals once they reach the treatment plant.     
      • John Thrush, Fuqua School of Business, 2009, john.thrush@fuqua.duke.edu
      • Robert Ross, Fuqua School of Business, 2009, robert.ross@fuqua.duke.edu
      • Nicolai Tvermoes, Fuqua School of Business, 2010, nicolai.tvermoes@fuqua.duke.edu

    And congratulations as well to the following Alumni / Faculty / Staff teams for being named finalists for the $10,000 prize.

    These teams will not present, but we honor their achievement by listing them here.
    Click on the links to view a video made by each startup.
    • AnyCloud, Inc. (Read our interview) - AnyCloud is an intuitive way to browse, organize, and transfer content across multiple cloud services. AnyCloud was founded to help offset issues that have arisen from two major internet trends. The growth of popular cloud services from major internet brands, coupled with explosive content sharing, has led to a hyper-fragmented market with consumers forced to maintain personal accounts on multiple different services to access content that is interesting and relevant to them. Our first focus has been tackling the fragmented online photo storage/sharing market. There are so many popular services - Dropbox, Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Picasa, Shutterfly, SmugMug, Snapfish, and others - that consumers end up with relevant photos all over the place due to friends and family sharing from their own accounts.    
      • Brian Jenkins, Pratt School of Engineering (computer science and electrical engineering), graduated 1991, brian@jenkinshouse.com
    • Deconstruction Inc. (Read our interview)  - Deconstruction is bringing the internet of things to construction.  Our wireless sensor and analytics solutions help construction mangers save time and money on projects with real time alerts, advice and predictive analytics. Too much noise and vibration results in numerous bad outcomes for those involved with a construction project.  These include annoying construction site neighbors, damaging reputation, stop work orders, loss of productivity, violation of local ordinances, bad press and litigation. These are problems for contractors, business owners, and the local municipalities where the projects occur.  Similarly, if construction materials are not treated in an appropriate manner for the current environmental conditions (temperature and relative humidity) bad outcomes can occur.  These include low quality construction, rework and structural failures. Our product, mBuilder(TM) performs real time sensing and alerts of temperature, humidity, noise and vibration on construction sites. Once readings are captured in the field, our unique data analytics platform matches sensor readings with other contextual information to deliver relevant, real time alerts, advice and predictive analytics in support of the construction superintendent.  We help construction managers focus on the most critical information at the right time. 
      • Brendan Robinson, Fuqua, WEMBA, 2008, brendan@deconstruction.co
      • James Sun, UPENN, Wharton, james@deconstruction.co
    • Seeds (Read our interview) - Seeds (Farmville meets Kiva) is a social game and API for mobile-to-mobile microlending, merging two multi-billion dollar industries and improving lives.     
      • Rachel Cook, Trinity 2006, rachel.cook@alumni.duke.edu 
      • Leonard Ng'eno, T'13 (leonard.ngeno@duke.edu)
      • Tori Reynolds T,13 (torireynolds@gmail.com)
      • Ben Mozenter T'13 (mozenterb@gmail.com)
      • Huanbing Xu T'13 (huanbingizzy@gmail.com)
      • Mailande Moran T'06, F'13 (mailande.moran@gmail.com)
      • Helen Zou P'13 (helenzou25@gmail.com)
      • Cody cody Kolodziejzyk P'12 (cody.ko@gmail.com)
      • Kevin Wang P'12 (kevinwang29@gmail.com)
      • Shun Fan P'12 (shun jsf.fan@gmail.com)
      • Sam Baek T'12 (sbaek90@gmail.com)
    • tripchi (Read our interview) - tripchi is a mobile app that helps you make the most of your time in the airport. It serves up recommendations of things to do in the airport based on your personality, interests and flight info, and offers exclusive deals on food, drink, and shopping opportunities, the ability to connect with other travelers, as well as detailed content to explore the airport. Sign up for our beta at www.tripchi.com and take our airport survey. Also, check us out on CNBC and Women 2.0. Finally, our pitch deck can be found here: http://therestlessroad.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/tripchi_pitch_final.pdf    
      • Chandra Jacobs, Trinity, 2004, cj@tripchi.com
    • Urova Medical (Read our interview) - Stress urinary incontinence affects up to a third of all women and is one of the most overlooked medical problems that face the world today. The condition is characterized by the involuntary leakage of urine due to normal actions such as walking, sneezing or coughing. In addition, this problem can also severely degrade the woman’s quality of life, potentially causing sexual difficulty and psychosocial distress. Rising trends in risk factors such as obesity, age, and childbirth indicate a growing problem for future generations. Urova Medical is excited to present the Uroguide™, a novel silicone implant that works naturally with the body to effectively, safely, and permanently treat stress urinary incontinence.     
      • Vidhan Agrawal, Pratt '12, vidhan.agrawal@duke.edu
      • Frank Yao, frank.yao@urovamed.com 
      • Richard Lee, Trinity '98, ril9010@med.cornell.edu
    • WaterTop Communities, LLC (Read our interview)- WaterTop Communities, LLC  was formed in January 2011 to partner with marina ownership entities and other ownership entities to develop, market, and sell waterfront properties. With over 60 years combined experience and over 25 residential communities developed throughout the southeast, the principals of WaterTop have earned their outstanding reputation for successfully developing, marketing and selling resort residential real estate.     
      • Dan Shiels, Fuqua - Daytime MBA 1986, dukedms@aol.com 
      • Richard McWhorter
      • Terry Aff

    Next steps:

    Scoring Methodology
    • The judges' votes will be the major factor in the selection; the audience vote will be used as a tiebreaker.