The Gainesville Area Innovation Network (GAIN) held its 3rd Annual GAIN ShootOut on Monday, when 16 local startups competed for the title of “Top Gun,” a prize which came loaded with $2,500 in cash, $2,000 worth of legal services, $250 worth of accounting services, $500 in exhibit materials, hundreds of dollars in miscellaneous prizes and a rare Stetson hat.
In between educational panels in the afternoon on subjects such as social media marketing and securing startup funding, the 16 competing companies were judged in groups of four. The winner of each bracket was moved on to the finals.
In the end, the four finalists were Sensory Integrated Solutions, a medical device company focused on treating aspiration pneumonia associated with neurologic or neurodegenerative diseases; Kinwa, which showed its flagship product – Beacon — an app that connects people to places and products in a new way; GoJoe, an on-the-go coffee delivery service at the push of a button; and Paracosm, which looks to cheaply create 3D models of every place on Earth.
After a day’s worth of presentations and a keynote address by local author and businessman John Spence, Amir Rubin of Paracosm was named “Top Gun” during the event’s dinner.
“It was awesome,” Rubin said. “The panelists and judges were really well selected. They were really friendly and gave great advice.”
“It was kind of unexpected because I entered to win that hat and because I love being a part of the Gainesville tech. community, so the prizes were kind of a bonus,” he said, noting that he’s been approached already by several investors and venture capital providers.
Paracosm is still mostly under wraps, but the company is gearing up for a wider public unveiling in the near future.
GAIN Executive Director Lee May said that one presenter came up to her after the dinner and said that this year was 300 times better than last year. May said that the event has grown by leaps and bounds and this year had many more startups apply to complete and drew many more attendees out to the educational panels.
“We really had an incredible slate of judges who donated their time this year,” May said. “And we could not do this without the support of all of our sponsors who stepped up,” like Cox Communications, Hutchison PLLC, Archer Bay Attorneys at Law, Tipple’s Brews and the UF Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation.
May said that even though the winner does walk away with thousands of dollars in prizes, what really makes the competition worthwhile is the advice that the competitors can gain from direct communication with investors, CEOs, accountants and legal experts on their panels.
In addition, Cox presented two Buchholz High School students with the James M. Cox Award for Entrepreneurial Innovation for their work in helping create the Mind Your Own Business event at the school.
The remaining competing companies were Omninox, which combines multiple study materials in one place; Sporting Odyssey, an outdoor sports marketing company; Eight technologies, LLC, with its Read-It technology, designed to help website owners improve their website and internet advertising performance; Shwrüm, with its Mobile CRM suite allows sales associates to use tablets to track client information, schedule appointments and communicate with clients; iFishEarth, a social network for anglers powered by user-generated reports; Quantitative Medicine, LLC, a biomedical and healthcare data analytics company; Vehltor, which is designed to restore trust in the used-vehicle industry by moving from sales to hospitality; XDG Technologies, which uses its Device to address skin-related issues in premature or newborn infants; US Phytotherapy, designed to forward the discovery and distribution of plant-based formulas to combat infectious disease; OwnForce, which aims to allow businesses big and small to begin doing business online immediately; and MyPayTube, a social media software company that allows users and members to share revenue.