Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of WRAL Tech Wire and business editor of

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Startup madness returns in Durham on Thursday with a host of new companies and a new band providing entertainment.

“Launch Day” is back for its fourth event in two years at the American Tobacco Historic District’s Bay 7 venue.

Put on by former investment banker Scott Kelly, Launch Day features five new companies that will make 3-minute pitches to potential investors. Representatives of each firm will then take questions. Networking follows where Kelly hopes that the firms will connect with people who have cash to make a play.

Preceding the showcase will be a mini-concert from the new band TenOfFive Urban, which is led by Danny Olinsky, a sales executive at Durham startup Argyle Social.

Combine the quality and mix of the startups with the band and Kelly says this event :may be the coolest one yet.”

Here’s the breakdown on the five presenters as provided by Kelly in a phone interview:

• Pruvop: Adam Schultz and Danvers Fluery have put together a marketing and research firm that will work with startups to validate their concept. With proof in hand, other entrepreneurs hopefull can nail down financing.

• ArchiveSocial: Formed by Anil Chawla, a former IBMer, the company will work with financial advisors and other firms that are required to keep records of communications with clients. The focus as the name implies is social media.

• Pengo: Dara Keatts and Jess Shorland want to connect investors with startup companies in Kenya. The two have already vetted five firms and are looking to raise $300,000 from investors for loans. They reportedly have already secured some $100,000.

• INRFOOD: Formed by Jivan Achreja and Keval Mehta, this company has developed a mobile “app” that scans barcodes and tells users just what is in the food at the supermarket. Thus the name, “in our food.”

• Pasplore: Led by Chris Crittenden, this company has developed a browser extension that scours the web looking for specific recipes. These can be added to your own “play list.”

While each firm is intriguing in its own way, INRFOOD has a very unusual story behind it. Mehta attended Duke Medical School but decided he could help more people as an entrepreneur than as an MD, Kelly says.

In fact, Mehta is at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week pitching his idea and looking for partners.

The ACC Showdown

Launch Day also will feature a bracket draw for Kelly’s next event – Startup Madness.

Representatives from each of the ACC schools are scheduled to take place in the “draw” for the March 14 event. ACC schools have agreed to send a top-student entrepreneur to Startup Madness where they will compete on the court of business ideas and planning, not hoops.

Next: Startup High

Kelly has more ideas ready to hatch. This summer he’s putting on “Startup High,” summer camps at which high school wannabe entrepreneurs will be tutored by current corporate executives.

For more information about the event, read here.

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