Last month, we hosted the 2nd Annual Carolina Challenge
Pitch Party at Top of the Hill. The event was also part of UNC’s Global Entrepreneurship Week
, which was held from Nov. 12-18th in conjunction with the Kauffman Foundation’s
yearly GEW initiative which involves over 7 million people in 125 counties. The Pitch Party is set up like a “battle of the bands”, with three simultaneous pitching stations and judges/attendees milling about. This year, we had almost 70 applications for the event and asked the top 45 ideas to participate. In terms of pitching format, each team has exactly 3 minutes to pitch their idea (max. 6 slides) and then must immediately exit the stage for the next team. Prior to the pitching component of the evening, there’s an open speed networking event where students are encouraged to mingle with as many judges as possible and share their idea.
Approximately 75 judges attended the Pitch Party this year, an impressive showing of the local entrepreneurial and business community. Upon arrival to the Pitch Party, judges receive $1500 in ”pitch cash” (1 $1,000 golden ticket and 5 $100 tickets) and they’re asked to distribute these “investments” over the course of the evening to their favorite ideas. We’ve found it to be a fun learning experience for all involved and a great way to generate interest for the official competition held each spring. Once the money has been counted, the top three teams are given the chance to pitch their ideas in front of the main audience. This year they were 1) GoPhish (an anti-phishing application), 2) Betty’s Better Breads (freshly-baked and delicious gluten-free baked goods), and 3) Resound Magazine (connecting college students to the local music scene). GoPhish was voted the winner and walked home with $1,000! After the event concluded, we turned on the UNC v. UVA football game for those who wanted to stay and watch it.
This week, Carolina Challenge judge Joe Precopio wrote an article for the Raleigh News and Observer
which offers a candid description of the Pitch Party and winning team GoPhish. ”GoPhish” is led by sophomore Winston Howes, a computer science major at UNC. GoPhish has developed a computer and mobile software that protects users from “phishing” attacks. Phishing is email fraud that convinces users to reveal personal and confidential information, sometimes by pretending to be a reputable company. GoPhish works by converting a web password into random text. If a user types in the same password again, the software encrypts it into different text that’s unique from the first. They plan to pilot their idea with UNC’s Medical School in the coming months. Read more here
We’re really excited about the upcoming 2013 Carolina Challenge competition! Remember, the deadline to apply is Sunday, Feb. 3rd. For more information on prize money and the competition itself, please visit www.carolinachallenge.org