Entrepreneurs vie for cowboy hat, glory at business pitch competition

Dozens of entrepreneurs gathered Monday to wrangle for the ultimate prize: a black Stetson cowboy hat.

The Fourth Annual GAIN Investor Pitch ShootOut, a Wild West-themed business pitch competition returned to Gainesville

Dressed in a white suit and white cowgirl hat in keeping with the event’s theme, event director Lee May said the competition offers participants small cash prizes, public speaking practice, exposure to investors, and of course — glory. She noted that it’s important for entrepreneurs to get experience explaining their products, and regardless of who wins, the event is a valuable opportunity to connect with investors.

Hosted at the Harn Museum, the event drew a pool of 36 judges, most of whom were notable capital investors and small-business advocates.

The two-round, elimination-style competition began Monday afternoon with four private rooms staffed with panels of judges. In each room, four companies presented their business concept for 50 minutes each.

Each judge panel chose a winner from its room, and the four winning teams then advanced to the second round, in which they pitched to a larger audience. From those presentations, an overall winner was chosen.

Angela Pate, executive chairwoman of event sponsor OwnForce, noted that companies must be young but established to participate.

“It’s not just somebody in the garage with ideas,” she said.

Stephanie George, the CEO of TAO Connect, emerged as the winner of the final round.

Contending companies in this year’s competition were:

  • StageTally — Interactive platform for gathering feedback from group presentations
  • Prometheon Pharma, LLC — Patch technology for large-molecule drugs such as insulin
  • ClearFog 360 — Platform for monitoring social media across applications and devices
  • Eventplicity — Software that streamlines event planning
  • Geomosquito — Technology for monitoring mosquito population and control
  • Immersed Games — Educational game world to teach students problem-solving
  • LifeNet Systems — Manufacturers/distributors of a patented NASA technology
  • Health-e, LLC — healthcare infrastructure that promotes patient literacy
  • Verigo — Tracks vital statistics for fresh produce during shipping
  • Apex Safety Technologies — Motorcycle safety products
  • Health Accelerator — At-home STI tests
  • HaulBox — On-demand storage service for students and businesses
  • SpinChill — Technology chills drinks 20 times faster than conventional methods
  • DBS Surgical Solutions — Solves technical hardware issues for Deep Brain Stimulation medical procedure
  • TAO Connect, Inc. — Mental health therapy platform
  • MYOLYN — Increases mobility for spinal cord injury patients




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