On November 17th and 18th, before 250 spectators and a panel of judges comprised of some of the most innovative entrepreneurial minds in Chicago, eight idea-stage start-ups took the stage for a chance to win over $60,000 in start-up friendly services to kick-start their businesses.
They had been selected based on their business idea, economic viability and overall creativity. Now each had just 10 minutes to wow our judges — a 4-minute pitching session, plus 6 minutes of Q&A with our judges. Among them: Troy Henikoff of Excelerate Labs, Built in Chicago’s own Matt Moog, Desiree Vargas Wrigley of GiveForward, and investors from OCA Ventures, New World Ventures, Illinois Ventures, and JK&B Capital. In sum, an experienced and hard-to-please crowd when it comes to picking great start-ups.
Happily, all our entrepreneurs stepped up to the occasion and wowed is with their creativity, initiative and business savvy. So it’s our pleasure to finally announce the fast-pitch winners of SeedCon 2011.
First Place: Snuggle Cloud
SnuggleCloud is a personal space for long distance couples. It provides the best way to stay connected with your significant other by bringing all your communication to one place, tracking moods and calendars and providing fun activities.
Representing SnuggleCloud at SeedCon were Shivan Srivastava and Sunil Muralidhar, who charmed the audience and judges with their witty take on the the ups and downs of long-distance relationships. Turns out, the company’s founders have a combined 12 years of long-distance relationship experience!”If Facebook is a party with friends,” Shivam said of their company, “then SnuggleCloud is an intimate candlelit dinner.”
Their win at SeedCon comes on the heels of their recent success at Seattle Startup Weekend.
Second Place: TalkChalk
TalkChalk is where the classroom lives beyond the bell. It is a platform that enables all stakeholders of the education process the ability communicate safely and effectively through Facebook, both during/after school.
TalkChalk founder David Simnick, a teacher himself, delivered a dynamic and engaging presentation about the struggles of engaging students outside the classroom, and how Facebook — through the child-safe filter of TalkChalk — could provide just the right solution. He argued that most education start-ups fail by targeting administrators first, while TalkChalk would get traction by working backwards: reaching students where they already are (Facebook!) and getting the buy-in of parents, teachers, and finally administrators.
We wish them the best of luck with this socially impactful venture!
Runner Up: OkCopay
OkCopay is a medical comparison engine that removes the mystery of pricing for patients, while improving reimbursement rates for providers. OkCopay allows you to search for the procedure you need, compare local providers, and view their actual prices.
For most of the SeedCon audience, the intricacies of healthcare prices might sound like a drag, but founder J. Toure McCluskey quickly captured everyone’s attention by pointing out that the cash price for an abdominal MRI in Chicago can cost $2093 in one clinic, or just in $325 in an equivalently accredited clinic just two miles away.
OkCopay promises to be the Kayak.com of the healthcare world, and with thousands of clinics already in its network, we hope it will continue to gain traction.
Runner Up: Stork Stack
Stork Stack is a subscription-based star-tup focused on the baby/toddler market (newborn to 36 months). Each month, members receive a Stack on their doorstep that contains products (new toys, outfits, books), and free samples of perishable products (baby food, diaper cream). Since all products are sourced from small businesses, Stork Stack provides an easy way for members to discover new products and for small businesses to expand their reach.
Stork Stack’s founders Chris Nakutis and Liz Eavey even brought a sample Stack for the judges to check out, and we loved all the awesome kid products inside.
Stork Stack only recently launched and we hope its SeedCon prizes fill help them get their boxes of goodies into the hands of new moms soon!
About the SeedCon Fast-Pitch Competition
SeedCon is the annual entrepreneurship and venture capital conference at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. It is entirely student-run, and open to anyone who is passionate about innovation and entrepreneurship. Through keynote speakers, panel sessions, a fast-pitch competition, and a networking reception, the conference provides fun and exciting opportunities for entrepreneurs, investors, and those passionate about startups to network and build businesses together.
For more information, visit www.seedcon.com or follow @seedcon on Twitter for updates!