Five Virginia startup businesses hawked their innovative wares before a panel of business experts and venture capitalists on Aug. 21 at the Center of Innovative Technology in Herndon in a competition that resembled the hit television show “Shark Tank.”
The business pitch competition, called Get Started NOVA, was presented by Cox Business and Inc. Magazine, along with local partners The Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce, The Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, The Washington Business Journal and The Entrepreneur Center@NVTC.
Five entrepreneur finalists out of a field of dozens each had two-and-a-half minutes to pitch their startup business concepts to the three panelists, with an additional two-and-a-half-minute question-and-answer period following each pitch. Panelists then chose a grand prize winner.
The startups competed for a grand prize package valued at more than $10,000 that included a $5,000 cash prize, a Cox Business technology package, and additional prizes from the local Fairfax County chambers and other local partners.
Panelists included Ted Rubin, social marketing strategist, brand evangelist and CMO; Michael Bare, president of Bare International; and Josh Linker, author of Disciplined Dreaming and CEO and managing partner of Detroit Venture Partners. Kris Frieswick, senior editor at Inc. Magazine, moderated the session and provided feedback.
The panelist judges selected the winner based on three central criteria: originality and innovation, ease of implementation and extent of community benefit.
“Each panelist was designed to bring a unique expertise to ensure finalists received advice in many aspects of starting a business,” said Cox Business spokeswoman Shana Keith.
An audience of more than 100 local businesspeople attended the Herndon event, participating in a question-and-answer segment with both the panelists and entrepreneurs after the competition.
Hampton-based FeedbacK Enterprise LLC won the competition with its flagship project, FeedbacK Golf, which uses a hands-free voice command and smartphone technology to record an individual’s golf swing at the driving range and presents instant instructional feedback.
“Winning Get Started NOVA is a fantastic validation of FeedbacK Golf’s product and business model,” said Shawn McDonald, founder and president of FeedbacK Enterprise LLC. “The prizes give us access to two great chambers of commerce, support from Cox to help us run our business and cash to continue to promote FeedbacK.”
Startup business Clean Living of Northern Virginia won the People’s Choice award determined by the audience, and received a $250 American Express gift card.
“Congratulations to FeedbacK Enterprises LLC,” said Steve Rowley, senior vice president of Cox Business. “Our goal was to help drive these businesses forward with expert advice, cash, services and connections with the right influencers while shining a spotlight on the hotbed of entrepreneurship here in Northern Virginia.”