By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
It started with 36 competitors, was reduced to five finalists, and ultimately ended with Torch capturing the top prize and $50,000 as Launch Tennessee’s “36|86 Conference” wrapped-up late Tuesday afternoon in Nashville.
The Chattanooga company bested another East Tennessee start-up – Vendor Registry of Knoxville – and three Atlanta competitors. Each of the finalists won a preliminary round in two-minute pitches that pitted start-ups participating in “Village 36” against each other.
Winners in each preliminary round were selected by audience votes, while formal investors selected Torch after longer pitches by each of the five finalists.
The Chattanooga start-up, which is being incubated by The Lamp Post Group, bills itself as returning to parents “the power to set boundaries on something that is boundless: the Internet.” Torch uses its own router to provide capabilities that allow mothers and fathers to control screen time, determine usage, and review browsing history through its easy-to-read analytics.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Shelley Prevost said the company has raised $1 million of its $1.2 million seed round goal, and the $50,000 prize certainly advances those efforts.
The Atlanta competitors were Kevy, a company that Co-Founder and CEO Brooke Beach described as “bringing the secrets of Amazon to the average retailer”; RightPatient, a SaaS-based service that uses biometric technology to ensure the accuracy of patient identification; and Split, an app providing order and payment flexibility to restaurant customers while also helping improve the turn rate of tables.
As previously reported, seven of the start-ups in “Village 36” were based in East Tennessee. Tuesday’s teknovation.biz feature article discussed the thoughts of two of those presenters – Haseeb Qureshi of AudioHand and Alicia Caputo of Avrio Analytics. Yesterday, we talked with two more of the East Tennessee presenters.
Ahead of his two-minute pitch in the preliminary round, Vendor Registry’s Chris Van Beke said he was going to use the 120 seconds to communicate one clear message. “Our mission is standardizing and centralizing the data,” he explained. The start-up connects local governments with vendors and vice versa.
“The largest sector of the U.S. economy is overpaying (for goods) and paper is what is getting in the way,” Van Beke said. Vendor Registry makes it easier for procurers and vendors to connect, securing a better price for local governments.
For Platt Boyd of Chattanooga’s Branch Technology, it was another opportunity to showcase the growing company, yet he also noted the challenge of the two-minute preliminary round pitch.
“I was nervous as all get out,” he told us after the presentation. “Two minutes without a deck is challenging.”
Boyd said the company has added two full-time and two part-time employees in the last year and will launch an online site to sell 3D table bases by the end of the summer.