Region’s Top Entrepreneurs Face Off for $10K
at Sandbox Pitch Contest Finale!
The stage was set. The celebrity judges were in attendance. The live TV cameras were rolling. And the house was packed! On October 18th, ten entrepreneur finalists from our four previous pitch contests faced off for a $10K Grand Prize in front of over 150 people at the Winners Showdown Pitch Contest. Finalist ideas included shoes with a built-in mobile device charger, a green bike sharing program, and an online platform for women entrepreneurs (click here to view full list).
The contest featured a star-studded panel of judges who hailed from prestigious companies and institutions:
- Jack Clancy – CEO, Enterprise Bank
- Desh Deshpande – President and Chairman, Sycamore Networks
- Tom First – Co-Founder, Nantucket Nectars
- Ira Jackson – Former Executive Vice President, BankBoston
- Bill O’Donnell – Chief Architect, KAYAK
- Julia Silverio – Founder, Julia’s Travel and & Silverio Insurance Agency
“Programs like this gives anybody who has an idea the opportunity to present and realize that any idea can work,” says Julia Silverio, Founder of Julia’s Travel and Silverio Insurance Agency of Lawrence. “Especially now in these economic times, any idea can take off and be a big hit.”
Before the contest began, thirty of our entrepreneurs sat down with the judges in an interactive session. The judges talked about their successes as entrepreneurs and how to persevere in the tough times. Then our entrepreneurs were given a chance to talk about their ideas and engage in a discussion with the judges.
The pitch contest kicked off with entrepreneurs showcasing their products. Industry pros interacted with these entrepreneurs and gave them feedback and advice on how to improve their idea.
Then at last, the pitches began! The elimination round featured six finalists making one-minute pitches. The audience was the judge for this round as they texted in their “Fan-Favorite” votes. The top four that the audience voted in would move on to the final round to square off against the original four finalists. Here is who made the cut:
- Dapper Diaper Delivery
- Operation Canine
- Stories in the Streets
In the final round, the eight entrepreneurs made their 2 ½ minute pitches to the Celebrity Guest Judges. Judges then would had 3 ½ minutes to ask questions. It was intense at times as judges shot out rapid-fire questions. All of the entrepreneurs made their case, but in the end, only one person could take home $10K.
The judges crowned Trisha Blanchet of Operation Canine as the first place winner! Operation Canine rescues homeless dogs from shelters and then trains them to be service dogs for war veterans. Blanchet said after that, “A few weeks ago, Operation Canine was just an idea. Now, thanks to the Sandbox, it’s really going to make a difference in people’s lives. The dogs will get the homes they need, and the veterans will get the help they deserve.”
Here is who took home second and third place:
Jessica Wilson of Videographer Startup Boost won 2nd Place! Her idea offers video and social media entrepreneurs training in videography, social media services, and business development.
Pauline Benninga and Lisa Spitz of RebelWomen won 3rd place! Their idea is an online platform for women entrepreneurs to connect with one another, share their knowledge, a learn how to enhance their business endeavors.
Special thanks to our co-hosts Theresa Park of the City of Lowell and David Parker of the Merrimack Valley Sandbox, Lowell Telecommunications Corporation (LTC) for filming the event, and to everyone who was in attendance!
Just a reminder, in December we will be launching the Sandbox Winter Accelerator Program for early-stage entrepreneurs. This 12-week program will have mentors, workshops, and meeting space for entrepreneurs to work in. We are looking for entrepreneurs and mentors. The deadline is November 1st at midnight, so apply now!
Dapper Diaper Delivery
Disposable diapers tax natural resources, fill landfills, and expose babies to harsh toxins. Dapper Diaper Delivery provides families with rental, pick-up, delivery, and cleaning of re-usable cloth diapers in the greater Merrimack Valley.
Emergency Medical Info Kits
Emergency Medical Info Kits provides individual’s emergency contact information and medical history data readily available in a magnetic vinyl envelope in case of a medical emergency.
With people highly reliant on their electronic devices, running out of battery power is not an option. Energy Harvesters’ Walking Charger™ addresses the problem and provides the ability to “charge your mobile electronics batteries anytime anywhere™”.
Fire Drops, LLC
Organic cough drops made from Cayenne pepper. It not only relieves your sore throat, but attacks the virus that is causing it.
Green Bikes of Lowell
Green Bikes is promoting a bicycle sharing program in the Lowell. Green Bikes are GPS-enabled bikes that you can find and unlock using your mobile phone. This is a fun and affordable way to encourage green transportation in the city.
Many service veterans suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury. Although service animals can help alleviate symptoms like depression, panic attacks, and nightmares, veterans usually have to wait up to five years before being matched with a dog. Operation Canine would provide local veterans with the opportunity to be matched with a service dog in a timely manner.
Women launching lifestyle and home-based businesses cite that care-giving responsibilities and/or current career demands makes it challenging to tap into existing networking opportunities, business support, and mentoring. RebelWomen.com is a platform for women entrepreneurs to connect with one another in a supportive environment, share their knowledge with a larger community, learn how to enhance their business endeavors, and promote their ventures.
Stories in the Streets
Stories in the Streets© brings stories, storytelling and books to families and children wherever they gather. This project reaches families in Lawrence whether it be at a farmer’s market, a park playground, a community festival, a food bank line, or a more traditional literacy venue, such as school auditorium or public library. Stories in the Streets© gives a free book to every child that listens to a story.
Tell My Circle
Tell My Circle is an affordable mobile/web customer referral system. They call it “Faster Referrals(TM)”. The solution is unique in that customers of their business clients get an immediate discount at point of sale for posting referrals on Facebook and/or Twitter.
Videographer Startup Boost
Videographer Startup Boost offers video and social media entrepreneurs training in videography, editing, social media services, customer service, and business development. This project is a partnership between the Lowell Telecommunications Corporation and the Merrimack Valley Small Business Center.