Editor’s note: This post has been updated to reflect a dropped sentence from an earlier published version. The presenting companies did not have to pay in order to be selected for the event. Firms were screened and selected by Scott Kelly, the Launch Day coordinator. The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of WRAL Tech Wire and business editor of WRAL.com.

DURHAM, N.C. – Earlier this week, I described Thursday night’s “Launch Day” as the return of startup madness. Well, by golly, that wasn’t hype.

A crowd of some 200 people showed up at Bay 7 in the American Tobacco Historic District to listen six Triangle-based startups make their case for investment dollars. The group of entrepreneurs made brief what you would call “elevator pitches” then took questions from the audience. Afterwards, they went one-on-one with people who wanted to follow up, exchange business cards and perhaps take the first steps toward a deal.

Five companies were scheduled originally, but organizer Scott Kelly added GreenSky Windsystems at the last moment. Kelly is becoming quite a veteran with these types of events. He’s executed four Launch Days to date, and he’s planning more in the future.

A key point to make before talking about the presenters: They did not pay for the opportunity to present. Each firm was selected after being reviewed by Kelly. 

Here’s the breakdown on the presenters:

• 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 hopefully can nail down financing.

Schultz made the crowd pitch, declaring: “We prove the existence of the opportunity.” The company might be a tough choice for true startups given the costs involved, Schultz said, so it targets larger firms that are mulling product launches.

Pruvop is in a sense making the case for its own existence, having grown to 10 employees from four and targeting “over $1 million in revenue.” This year.

• 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.

Chawla told the crowd he is “looking for a local firm” to help him pilot his technology. He promises clients a “carbon copy” of social media that is “instantly searchable.”

“Archive Social takes care of the recod keeping so you can focus on being social,” he said.

• Pengo Loans: 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.

The former UNC roommates are off to a fast start, having raised $100,000 from local angel investors to fund its operations. The two also have commitments for the first series of loans to firms in Nairobi.

They are going to rely on “crowd sourcing” to minimize the risks to people who fund the loans.

By the way, Pengo is Swahili for “Gap.” Pengo Loans wants to help firms bridge the gap for startup and expansion capital that they can’t get from conventional loan sources.

Noting lack of growth in the US, low interest raters from banks and negative venture capital investment returns, CEO Keatts declared Pengo is a solid investment choice.

By the way, Keatts and Shorland’s plan calls for a 14 percent return to backers.

• 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.”

Metha, an MD from Duke, was at the Consumer Electronics Show pitching their app to potential partners. His partner, Achreja, told the crowd that the firm is gearing up for a Jan. 30 launch.

After selling apps to start, INRFOOD has plans to offer a subscription service.

• 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.”

Crittenden, a former consultant at McKinsey who earned a PhD at Duke, pulled off a live demonstration of Pasplore (a mix of passport and explore, he says) to find, “extract” and post recipes complete in a recipe card format with images.

Revenue opportunities include the possibility of correlating coupons with the recipes, he said. Crittenden and his co-founder and brother-in-law Wes Dyer (a former Microsoft researcher) are looking for partners.

• GreenSky Windsystems:

Quentin Ankri, a native of France who attended UNC-Wilmington, touted that startup’s wind turbine technology as a means of producing “the dream of a greener tomorrow.” He and his partners have already sold three of the towers, which are far different from traditional windmills.

These towers capture wind with a circular construction.

GreenSky already has one investor and is looking for money to fund further production.

The Wrap

Given the size of the crowd and the interaction taking place afterwards, the startups produced plenty of interest.

The mix of hardware, software, finance and Internet technologies certainly demonstrated that innovation has no limits.

Did the crowd get a preview of the next Facebook or Google or GE?

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