Give & Go, an automated film editing platform for sports teams and coaches, took home top honors at the University of Colorado Boulder’s New Venture Challenge (NVC) Championship on Thursday night, winning first place in the annual event that showcases entrepreneurial innovation from across campus.
Give & Go, co-founded by CU Boulder students Mac Bolak, Andrew Casner and Nick Erokhin, allows coaches to edit game film up to 72 times faster than the competition. The project will receive $14,000 in award money as well as $50,000 convertible note from Brad Feld and Dan Caruso, two of Boulder's most notable entrepreneurs.
The NVC, now in its ninth year, highlights aspiring CU Boulder entrepreneurs and offers students, faculty and staff a chance to conceptualize, design and pitch innovative ideas with support and mentorship from industry partners such as the Caruso Foundation and the Anchor Point Foundation.
Conceived and developed by Silicon Flatirons, the NVC has evolved into a signature program of the campus-wide Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative, which coordinates and spearheads a range of campus efforts that encourage an innovator mindset and connects the campus with the local and regional entrepreneurial communities.
Past NVC competitors have gone on to acquire patents, found successful startup companies, secure millions of dollars in investment funding and pitch their ideas to venture capitalists on the hit national TV show “Shark Tank.” Participation in the event has increased 300 percent since its inception in 2009.
“The NVC has become the heartbeat of entrepreneurship on campus,” said Sarabeth Berk, Assistant Director for the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative. “It brings together campus and community, breaks down silos and shows that anyone can bring their idea into reality, especially with the awesome startup energy and expertise we have in Boulder!”
This year’s distinguished panel of judges included Sandi Mays, Executive Vice President and Chief Information of the Zayo Group who was recently named the 2016 Most Inspirational Woman by Women in Communications (WIC); Jason Mendelson, Co-Founder and Managing Director of the Foundry Group with over 20 years of experience in technology and venture capitalism; and Lisa Reeves, the Vice President of Corporate Strategy of Workday and previous manager of corporate venture fund SAP Ventures.
The 2017 NVC finalists represented a wide variety of majors and departments, including engineering, business, athletics, music, physics and applied math.
ReForm, an adjustable socket for prosthetic legs that can adapt to fit an amputee’s changing limb over time, earned runner-up honors as well as the Audience Choice award from a standing room-only crowd at Wolf Law. The company will receive $5,000 in prize money plus an additional $1,000 for winning Audience Choice.
ReForm team members Madalyn Kern, Marshall Beebe and Danny Walsh had also previously swept their NVC semifinal competitions, winning the Women’s Entrepreneurship Prize, the Social Impact Prize and the R&D track, bringing their total cash awards to $21,500 plus in-kind winnings including $2,500 worth of legal services and an invitation to the Boulder Think Tank.
Gigsicians, an online platform for newly-graduated music students to connect with event planners and launch their careers, earned third prize and $4,000 in cash. But the innovative service, co-founded by Elise Campbell and Callan Miller didn’t stop there, as the project also garnered a $5,000 personal award from competition judge Jason Mendelson.
The remaining two finalists tied for fourth place, earning $1,000 each. The Bedtime Box, founded by CU Boulder student Jessica, her husband Mark Carson and Craig Sweeney, is an all-in-one box of toys and books designed to help young children develop easy and fun bedtime routines — and give parents a way to avoid fussy nighttime meltdowns.
PerfectFit, meanwhile, offered a solution to a different problem — clothes purchased online that don’t fit, costing retailers billions in returns each year. Team members Denis Kazakov, Max Kazakov and Nicole Woytarowicz presented their API-based app that would instead allow users to create personal 3D models for clothing in order to give them a better sense of how a particular item will fit their own body.
Overall, the night’s proceedings were lively and competitive while maintaining a sense of playfulness, as evidenced by the bold fashion choices of presenter and Silicon Flatirons Entrepreneurship Intitative Director Brad Bernthal. Bernthal wore a colorful suit made by Boulder-based startup (and former NVC competitor) Shinesty.
“For nearly a decade, the New Venture Challenge has been a seminal event in the accomplishments and careers of dozens of students, faculty and staff,” said George Deriso, Assistant Director for the Innovation & Entrepreneurship initiative. “Having been a part of the NVC since the very first, I can attest to the fact that it just keeps getting bigger and better year after year!”
All CU Boulder students, faculty and staff are encouraged to participate in future NVC competitions. The 10th anniversary edition of the event will kick off in September 2017. For more details, visit the New Venture Challenge website.