RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – It was standing-room only at the RTP Headquarters Thursday evening, where six women entrepreneurs pitched their startups to an audience of over 100 Triangle community members.
The competition, titled Women’s PitchFest, was the first collaborative event by TiE Carolinas, a nonprofit organization supporting entrepreneurship in the Carolinas, and RIoT, the IoT-focused nonprofit driving economic development through startup acceleration, partnerships and education.
The judges named Inirv as the Women’s PitchFest winner. The pitch was delivered by CEO Akshita Iyer, and focused on Inirv’s IoT system that lets users control their kitchen stove remotely, potentially preventing the most common cause of kitchen fires—an unattended stove.
Judges included Wyrick Robbins Yates & Ponton Partner Chris Lynch, angel investor Jan Davis, Bull City Venture Partners General Partner Jason Caplain, United Drug Supply CEO Samantha Godfrey, and Hummingbird Creative Group CEO Wendy Coulter.
“The best resource for women entrepreneurs in this area has always been the community,” said Coulter. “Seeing the number of people who came together to support these startups, provide prizes to help them—it shows how seriously this region takes entrepreneurship, and how dedicated so many Triangle entrepreneurs are… and how innovative our state’s women entrepreneurs have been in overcoming obstacles and amplifying the next generation of women business owners.”
Coulter was one of many business owners to award her company’s marketing consulting services as part of the prize package.
In addition to consulting from Hummingbird Creative, Inirv will receive a six-month HQ Raleigh membership, a one-year Alliance of Women in Tech Leadership membership, mentoring sessions, 10 hours of consulting from CrowdfundNC, a spot on the RIoT Underground podcast, a 12-month subscription to 15Five‘s Performance Management Program, and a three-month branding campaign from Adwerx.
#FullyCharged – Energy from Local Entrepreneurs
The event also featured an Audience Choice winner. The crowd picked BatteryXchange – the portable fast-charge battery solution focused on making it easy for users to locate portable batteries and making it lucrative for local businesses to provide battery kiosks for their customers. Their #fullycharged pitch was delivered by BatteryXchange’s Chief of Staff Jasmine Miller.
“The pitch fest gave us the platform to share what BatteryXchange is all about,” said Miller. “And promote the value of keeping communities connected, especially in the RDU area where we see an opportunity to expand in an open market.” BatteryXchange is a Charlotte-based startup that is currently one of the eight startups in the RIoT Accelerator Program.
There were six pitches total, including Emiley Joyce of X2 Health, a venture that’s developing a low-cost HPV test; Clinical nurse at WakeMed Children’s Hospital Karen Tsang, presenting a pediatric medical device; Karly Pavlinac of WAAM, an app where fitness trainers can post their workouts and connect with an audience; and Tea Blumer of iScribble, an interactive drawing platform for artists.
A Call to the Community
Before announcing the winners, RIoT’s Executive Director Tom Snyder issued a call to the community.
“No matter who wins, it’s everyone’s responsibility to help these startups succeed,” he said, pointing to the crowd. “You can help—whether it’s introducing them to a customer, or a potential partner – it’s all of our responsibility to help each of these amazing founders to build great companies.”
The event’s emcee Molly Demarest, General Manager of American Underground, demonstrated this commitment, announcing that all the startups would be receiving six months of support from American Underground.
“UDS chose to sponsor Women’s PitchFest because supporting diversity and inclusion within our entrepreneurial community is vital for us to really support these women who otherwise may not have taken that step to say ‘I can do that,’” said United Drug Supply CEO Samantha Godfrey, who also served as a judge.
“PitchFest encouraged them—let them know that they belong at the table. We, as a community, need to now take that extra step in supporting these individuals whether through mentorship, financial support or introductions. Making the time when others have given us time as we’ve grown companies is how we can really make an impact on the growth of these women leaders and the growth of these companies in the Triangle.”
First RIoT-Tie Partnership
This event was the first partner event between RIoT and TiE Carolinas. Both organizations had strong support from members at the event, which lasted from 6pm to 9pm at the RTP Headquarters off Davis Drive.
Simmi Prasad, the current President of TiE Carolinas, called the event an “inspiring opportunity for women entrepreneurs.”
RIoT spoke briefly about the current cohort in the RIoT Accelerator Program (RAP), encouraging the audience to mark their calendars for two upcoming opportunities to meet the RAP startups: IoT Demo Night on October 14th at the Raleigh Convention Center, and RAP Pitch Night on November 19th. For more information, visit RIoT’s website at ncriot.org or contact Events and Operations Manager, Caroline Griffin (email@example.com).
TiE Carolinas also plugged an upcoming initiative; their TiE YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS (TyE) program, which targets high school students (grades 9-12). It is designed to teach high school students entrepreneurship and leadership skills through a 16 week period which includes classroom instruction, mentoring support for business plan development, and culminates with business plan competition. Applications for TyE open Sept 27, 2019; for additional information, please visit https://carolinas.tie.org/programs/ or contact the Program directors; Sanjay Acharya (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Prapthi Cariappa (email@example.com).