StartUp Quest Pitch Contest Results

The competition yielded 4 winning teams with cash prizes and businesses to launch.

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA-Brevard Workforce, the area authority on workforce development, hosted their StartUp Quest Business Plan and Investor Pitch Competition at the Space Coast Convention Center at the Holiday Inn Cocoa on July 11, 2013. The event was standing room only as 11 teams of aspiring entrepreneurs presented commercialization plans to guests, peers and a panel of judges. Four teams walked away with awards, cash prizes and a business to launch.


SUQ1st place The first place team, winning $1,000 each, Team Solar Flex, led by mentor Robert Green, included teammates: Scott Campbell, Jeffrey Gilchriest, Rupert Hector, Robin Jones and Winsome Sharpe. The team inspired the audience with their presentation for commercializing the SolarFlex technology- efficient, thin-film solar cells that convert sunlight into usable energy. SolarFlex harnesses power at a lower cost than solar power and is far more flexible and less expensive to produce. Commercial and residential markets would benefit from this technology that promises to produce more power than others on the market.


Second Place

Second place, winning $750 each: Team Space Coast Industrial Solutions led by mentor Michael Judith included teammates: Sylvester Brown, Stefanie Chrisman, Angela Davidson, Cynthia Hercules, Pablo Martinez, Kelly Nichols, Edward Pulz, and Mark Woolsey. This team’s technology, Corr-Away® is a composite powder particle technology patented by NASA labs at KSC.  As a proven technology, Corr-Away® stops corrosion and extends the life of structures like bridges.  Did you know that 282,672,680 vehicles cross the most dangerous bridges daily?  This product can help prevent corrosion up to 20 years on new structures.


Third place, winning $500 each: Team TJS Technologies led by mentor Mark Shantzis included teammates: Cindi Courbat, Darrell Craig, Lanny Gerkin, Andrew Heavener, Doug Hercules, and Janet Lindsey.   This team’s technology is an emergency brake that prevents runaway semi-trucks from jackknifing.  Over 50% of the truckers surveyed had witnessed, or were involved in, a jackknife event.  Did you know that every 16 minutes someone dies or is injured by jackknifing trucks?  This technology has the potential to save lives and prevent injury.


SUQ-Honorable Mention

And as an unexpected surprise, the judges added the category of Honorable Mention– funded fully by the judges themselves to Team nervEMG.  Each team member received $300. Team nervEMG included teammates: William Harr, Tamela Hughey, Delbressa Jordon, John Levitt, Caroline Miles, Terry Tyson, Mary Ward and Susan Wheat. This team presented their commercialization plan for a portable device that helps Stroke, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients swallow and cough safely.  This airway protection system is sensor-based and bio-feedback driven with remote monitoring and adjustment.  For those who have issues swallowing, this device will stimulate nerves and muscles to properly swallow, and can be used at home without medical assistance.

“I plan to apply this knowledge to my overall entrepreneurial activities and to evaluating and rolling out future initiatives.,” remarked participant Steffani Burd.

Burd went on to say, “We’ve developed some very close relationships, probably due to the challenging nature of this program.  We’re already discussing how we can support each other in our efforts after the program – a pretty neat outcome for a ten-week project!”

Lisa Rice, president of Brevard Workforce added, “It was an exhilarating experience to watch this program unfold, from being awarded  the grant, to experiencing the teams entrepreneurial energy, to watching the results of everyone’s hard work.  There was an undeniable cool factor in working with the technologies from Florida Universities and NASA labs and when asked if each of the winning teams had intentions of taking steps towards commercializing their technologies, 100% of the teams replied “yes”.”

This is the first of three scheduled rounds of the StartUp Quest classes. The next round of participant recruitment for this program will begin in early 2014. To learn more, contact: [email protected]

About Start-Up Quest

Startup Quest is a program made possible by a grant from the US Department of Labor’s Workforce Innovation Fund.  The grant’s purpose is to provide innovative entrepreneurial training to unemployed and underemployed degreed individuals in eight workforce regions around the state.  The program provides eight weeks of curriculum in addition to participation in a simulated technology startup exercise.  Participants are teamed together with an experienced entrepreneur mentor to form simulated startup companies and create commercialization plans for existing technology Intellectual Property (IP) from universities and NASA labs.

Startup Quest is part of an evaluation study funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration Workforce Innovation Fund.  Participants will be selected from among eligible applicants.  Data collected will remain confidential and will be used for statistical purposes only.  Startup Quest is an equal opportunity program.  Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.