Arizona does a lot of things well. Warm weather, tourism, golf, mining and of course serious entrepreneuring. The State has one of the nation's largest grant competitions which gives away a total of $3 million each year to twelve companies, in what's known as the Arizona Innovation Challenge (AIC). As well, our Invest Southwest Capital Conference hosts one of the finest venture challenge competitions called Venture Madness. I'm a judge for AIC and also on the Selection Committee for Venture Madness.
Call me biased but these events are tops nationally, with all the pizazz of Tech Stars and the like. It's bracketed like March Madness, but we start with about 150 applicants, then the competition kicks off with the winning 64 companies. They pitch one against the other until it gets down to 32, then down to the final (sweet?) 16. That's when the 3-day conference begins with those 16, head to head until down to 8, 4 and the final 2. (More later on the winner.)
Here are the final 16...
...Colorectal and breast cancer screening by providing doctors with highly accurate, rapid, and affordablepoint-of-careblood tests... http://www.beaconbiomedical.com/
...Student financial aid self-service company with a TurboTax-like way to apply for their share of the $250 billion of financial aid awarded .... http://campuslogic.com/
... Pricing and merchandising solutions inside a big data platform for retailers' key businessprocesses... http://cleardemand.com/
...Software that predicts the performance of medical devices like stent selection for individual patients in surgery pre-treatment planning... http://endovantage.com/
...Advanced eye protection for military and sport sunglasses for improved impact protection levels, can withstand multiple shotgun blasts... http://numaoptics.com/
... Visual learning platform that empowers people to create, share and learn audiovisual study cards with unforgettable images and stories... http://picmonic.com/
...Easy to use, live chat making it simple to install on any web site.... https://www.purechat.com/
...Enables professional sports teams, live music venues and organizations to connect inreal-time with their fans via a simple reply text message... https://www.replybuy.com/
... Automotive parts e-commerce platform for OEMs and auto dealerships... http://www.revolutionparts.com/
...Medical devices that determine pH level of a critically ill patient's stomach to bring science into clinical decision-making... http://rightbiometrics.com/
Searchlight/Sentinel Internet Systems
...Content monitoring platform that detects and remediates plagiarism online... http://www.searchlig.ht
...Security management platform offering alerts, automated resolution and metrics-based dashboards and reports... http://swimlane.com/
...Builds well-crafted, beautifully designed stories from your data without the complexity of spreadsheets and convoluted reports... http://talu.io/
... P2P mobile payment application that enables you to tip service professionals like baristas, valets, babysitters and bellmen and pay with their phone.... https://tip.ly/
....Integrates electronic circuits into glass for smaller size, lower cost, and higherperformance... http://www.tritonmicrotech.com/
...Biological processes that extract gold and copper from low-grade ore that would otherwise be treated as waste in mining industry... http://universalbiomining.com/
And the Final Two?
CampusLogic and EndoVantage. Congrats to all the 16 winners! In the end, CampusLogic won the Final competition.
P.S. I've long wanted to do a small venture fund simply based on these final 16 companies. Think of it, an equal $100,000 into each of 16 companies! I'd sure bet that no less than 8 of the final 16 would have positive liquidity events. (That would be better results than most venture funds.) Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you like that idea.