Friday, April 20, 2012

Rocket Pitch

Chairs squeaked and heads bobbed and weaved, each straining to identify the curious source of disruption among the quieted crowd.

The culprit? A wicked-smart robotic camera, whose technical mastermind will be used for pipe inspection services.

I almost choked on my ornamental polenta bite as I watched the robotic whippersnapper navigate down the meeting hall. Only slightly smaller than a 1989 boom-box, the little guy emitted a confident whirr and engrossed the entire audience…so much so you would have thought Kareem Abdul-Jabbar just walked in.

Then again, displays like this never cease to amaze me. It was after all, a Rocket Pitch Event.

Jonathan Rowe, director of the UNCW Entrepreneurship Center and creator of the semi-annual Rocket Pitch Event, alongside Chancellor Gary Miller, welcomed attendees to UNCW’s Burney Hall on April 19th.

The room was filled with representatives from academia, entrepreneurship, start-up companies, media, businesses, students, angel investors, nonprofits, and many more. Attendees noshed on elegant cuisine and sipped their cocktails as they listened to five companies “pitch” their respective product, business plan, and growth model.

PipeView Technologies kicked off the series. The founders behind the cost saving, pipe failure-fighting venture and the aforementioned robot technology are locally based and well-known across the community: Meredith Sullivan and Kristen Beckmeyer, co-owners of Coastal Cupcakes.And that was just the beginning.

The companies that followed were equally impressive.

Dan Tomkins presented his company, The Teacher Registry, which is an incredible online resource for teachers. Many educators supplement their own hard earnings for supplies that school systems cannot provide due to budget constraints. The Teacher Registry, akin to a wedding registry, allows teachers to create a profile where they can post their registry for school supplies. These supplies can then be purchased by parents, friends, and visitors who can search for the teacher by name through this portal.

Myo Med, LLC is a Wilmington based company that specializes in Myotonology®. The company’s president, Elizabeth Logan, explained how the patented microcurrent, noninvasive facial treatment focuses on toning facial muscles and increasing skin circulation. This proven product has enjoyed great success and Logan predicts Myo Med will continue to considerably expand its market share.

Terry Linehan of UNCW’s film department presented his company A Bunch of Us Productions, LLC. His pitch outlined his plan for producing an independent film shot in North Carolina. Using financial comparisons to Hollywood production costs, Linehan’s funding needs are modest. The preview of snapshots sent chills throughout the crowd…it is no surprise he has already secured significant capital for this project.

Cloudwyze, founded by Shaun Olsen, uses cloud-based technologies to provide users with more efficient, flexible (no contracts!) and affordable internet, phone, hosting, and IT services. I’ll admit, I don’t really understand the inner workings of the digital network, but I do understand the advanced, and largely untapped market in which they have infiltrated and the exponential growth they will soon encounter.

Time and again I am humbled by the creativity, drive, and determination exhibited by our area entrepreneurs. The Rocket Pitch Events are no exception. What’s more, three of the presenters Wednesday night are UNCW alumni…we are literally growing entrepreneurship and business in our back yard. UNCW and the UNCW Entrepreneurship Center deserve accolades for the strong academia, programmatic support, and effectiveness in recruiting mentors and existing business representatives to the process.

To visit individual company websites and for more information on the UNCW Entrepreneurship Center’s Rocket Pitch Event please

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