Officially, no one could lose at the Carolina Challenge’s Launch Party, but an idea called YardSprout walked off $1,000 closer to being a winner than 46 other start-up ideas did on Thursday night.

YardSprout was one of 48 venture ideas that teams were trying to sell to volunteer judges at the first Pitch Party held to drum up excitement for the annual Carolina Challenge run by the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School.

Kenan-Flagler grad student Mia Farber, YardSprout’s vice president of business development, said the idea to bring together 30 million vegetable growers and the $50 billion gardening and landscape industry was “a cross between Angie’s List and Linked In.”

Second  in the final voting and getting $250 was Chalk & Stone, a proposed way for undergraduate students to investigate graduate schools online and find reviews by students attending them. The team led by medical graduate student Matthew Wetschler billed it as “graduate school guidance for the Facebook generation.”

Third place went to Sanitation Creations, which team member Liz Morris said was both an idea to retrofit smelly, “avoid at all costs” portable toilets with waterless, odorless devices and a way to bring sanitation to 2.6 billion people in the world who do not have it.

This was the first year for the Pitch Party, held in space provided by Top of the Hill restaurant owner Scott Maitland and created by Kenan-Flagler program manager Carrie Harbinson. The format was a networking period for entrepreneurs to glad-hand any and all judges they could to pitch their idea. Their then was a period for teams to do pitches with their illustration slides, three at a time in different parts of the room for three minutes each.

Judges voted for finalists by giving out “pitch cash,” but they were encouraged to give out their contact information, too, to teams they thought had promise.

Ideas up for grabs ranged from ones clearly focused on student audiences to one about a better way to identify effective cancer treatments more quickly than can be done today.

Each team had to have at least one UNC student, faculty member or student, and the members’ experience ranged widely. A former elementary school teacher wants to create a website through which teachers can share extra subject resources and extra materials on which they currently spend $1.3 billion from their own pockets annually.

“It’s really like crowd sourcing,” Charlotte Garza explained.

The Meateorologist wants to consolidate information for restaurants trying to identify the best market prices for beef and port.

Paul Marshall, an intern assistant principal at Seawell Elementary School in Chapel Hill, was pitching a refillable dry-erase marker to save schools money and make a company money.

Profitable social goals were well represented, too. Pharmacy school graduate student Julian Wooten spoke for a team looking for backing for P.E.N.C.I.L., an application to track high school students according to performance information and alert parents, teachers and administrators in real time when a student seems to be slipping.

The goal, Wooten explained, is to reduce the 23-out-of-100 dropout rate for students who start high school in North Carolina and cut the $11 billion estimated annual social cost they impose.

Napoleon Wallace’s team was offering Directed Deposits, an application to let small banks and other community institutions attract savers who want the money in their accounts to be invested in goals they support.

The formal phase of the Carolina Challenge opens Feb. 15 with an “elevator pitch” round of presentations by teams entered in one of four tracks. It concludes with a winner chosen March 28 from among the four finalists, one from each track.

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