2018 Winners

This week local startups went head-to-head competing during a pitch competition for over $30,000 in prize money from COX Business, Tucson Electric Power (TEP), and the Arizona Commerce Authority.

The prize was awarded during the final pitch competition for IdeaFunding, a day-long conference where nearly 400 investors, entrepreneurs, startups and students convened to empower the local startup ecosystem and accelerate entrepreneurship.

The day began with 25 Arizona-based companies at various stages of development who pitched a panel of judges for the opportunity to compete at the final event Tuesday night. Five companies were invited were invited to the Startup Showcase at the Tucson Convention Center. The awardees included:

$25,000 Grand Prize sponsored by COX Businesses awarded to Nano CheQ

NanoCheQ created a novel microbial diagnostic kit that rapidly identifies bacteria type, and provides instructions on how to eliminate contamination.

$5000 cash prize sponsored by Arizona Commerce Authority to RentLab

RentLab works with cities and universities to drive sustainability, efficiency, and affordability in rental housing using a customizable Smart Living Dashboard and scoring system in pursuit of community greenhouse gas reduction and sustainability goals.

$1000 sponsored by TEP awarded to TopWipe

TopWipe is a first-to-market patented dispenser for flushable wet wipes.

$500 TEP Energy Booster Award awarded to Rent Lab

$1000 People’s Choice awarded to SGNT

SGNT presented a revolutionary, patent-pending technology, that wirelessly ensures the seal on any physical item has not been compromised, providing a low-cost single-platform solution to guarantee the authenticity and integrity of goods, thus rendering tampering and counterfeiting obsolete.

Mainstage Pitch Teams

These teams won in their categories from their individual morning Pitch Competition sessions:

Audio storytelling made simple. Convert blogs into NPR-level podcasts, less than 3 hours.

The Knot-Box is a curated subscription box for textured roots and kinky curls. We exist to inspire and support black women and curly POCs in their journey to self-expression and acceptance of their coily roots.

NanocheQ is on a mission to make safe, quality food accessible to everybody. In the pursuit of this goal, they’ve developed a novel platform technology, which uses aptamer-conjugated gold nanoparticles (Apt-AuNPs) that can rapidly detect and identify bacteria. Couple this technology with fluorescent analysis and machine learning, this tool can sense small molecules and proteins at the nano-scale. Due to these technological advancements, our product is faster, more versatile, and easier to use than any bacterial diagnostic on the market.

The NanocheQ MicIDᵀᴹ product line gives beverage (beer, wine, soda, water) producers a rapid, simple pipeline to ensure the safety of their products. After the testing cartridge is loaded, the sample is incubated, and a picture of the test strip is taken using a mobile phone, which delivers results and provides analytics on how to eliminate the source of contamination. At a price point of $10/test, it is cost-effective at small scales, and has been validated at large scales through a partnership with a top-ten craft brewery in the United States. The product grants all food producers, including microbiologists, brewers, and family-owned production facilities, the freedom to focus fully on perfecting taste, and optimizing production.

SGNT exists to solve a problem. That problem is physical object security and integrity. With our patented SGNT-Ring technology, we leverage the power of multiple technologies to bring value to businesses, governments, and consumers alike. (RFID/NFC, Cloud, Logistics, Shipping, Manufacturing) SGNT-Ring is a new global paradigm; a revolutionary, RFID based device used to wirelessly ensure that the seal on any physical item has not been compromised. The SGNT business model consists of Patent-Pending Physical Devices, a Software Platform, and Consulting. SGNT gives total real-time security and visibility at any point in the supply chain, rendering the tampering and counterfeiting of goods obsolete.

Mission: D3Sciences is dedicated to the development of tools for improved tissue sampling to expand cancer diagnosis, therapy specificity, and research.

Top Wipe
The Top Wipe Dispenser Brand is ready to set a new bathroom standard and become the highly successful multi-million dollar company it can be. A plastic toilet paper holder with space to hold a wet-wipe, cleansing gel, and air freshener.

Thomas R. Brown Outstanding Entrepreneur Award

Established in 2001, the Thomas R. Brown Award recognizes an individual entrepreneur for their commitment, innovation and economic contribution in Southern Arizona. The award honors the co-founder of Burr-Brown Corporation, Tom Brown. He and a friend, Page Burr, started the company in Brown’s garage in 1956, and shortly thereafter Brown bought out Burr’s interest and grew the company until 2000 when it was acquired by Texas Instruments. The sale was the largest in Arizona history. Burr-Brown was a precision electronics manufacturing company with sales almost exclusively outside of Arizona, and thus it contributed significantly to the economy of Arizona.

2018 Award Winner: Lawrence Mehren, Accelerate Diagnostics

Thomas R. Brown Rising Star Award

The Rising Star Award is being established for the first time this year as a complementary award to the Thomas R. Brown Outstanding Entrepreneur Award. The Thomas R. Brown Rising Star Award recognizes an individual entrepreneur who is in the early stages of business, and poised for future success and impact and that demonstrates the same innovative spirit and commitment as the Outstanding Entrepreneur Award recipient.

2018 Award Winner: Dr. Shiva Planjery, Codelucida

Larry Hecker and Sherry Hoskinson Lasting Community Builder Award

Established in 2013, the Larry Hecker and Sherry Hoskinson Award recognizes an individual that has shown outstanding commitment and dedication to building the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Tucson, making a lasting impact as a community builder. The award is named for the combined efforts of attorney and community leader Larry Hecker and startup ecosystem builder Sherry Hoskinson, both part of the original founding team for IdeaFunding.

2018 Award Winner: Joann MacMaster, Tech Launch Arizona

Larry Hecker and Sherry Hoskinson Bright Futures Award

The Bright Futures Award is being established for the first time this year as a complementary award to the Larry Hecker and Sherry Hoskinson Lasting Community Builder Award. The Award recognizes an individual in the earlier part of their career that has already shown that they embody the same traits as those of the Lasting Community Building Award and is poised to continue to make an impact on our ecosystem moving forward.

2018 Award Winner: Stephanie Bermudez, Startup Unidos