ST. GEORGE – Brandon and Travis Gates, owners of DuctWizard, a St. George software application allowing HVAC companies to conveniently order custom duct work over the internet, walked away as grand prize winners of the Southern Utah “Concept to Company” contest. The Gates brothers won $10,000 for their efforts along with another $10,000 in services from local companies.
Runners up companies, each winning $5,000 in cash and $5,000 in services, were John Lee, Springdale, with his Adjustable Jar Holder and Opener; and Jeff Shepherd, Enoch, who markets The Scent Master 3500, a commercial and home aroma diffusion system.
T. Craig Bott of Grow Utah Ventures, which hosted the event, said the 2012 Southern Utah contest attracted over 50 applicants with a variety of business ideas. Eight finalists were selected to present their ideas in front of a panel of industry experts and successful entrepreneurs in a closed door session.
The final three winners each presented at a Grow Utah Ventures CrowdPitch, where a public audience looked in as an investor panel evaluated and commented on the fledgling companies. Audience members were also invited to invest “Crowd Cash” in their favorite company. Scent Master was the audience choice winner.
Elliss pointed out that the companies donating services, Durham Jones and Pinegar Law, Savage Esplin and Radmall Accounting and OveractDev Technology Partners, each had a part to play in addition to the cash awards donated by a local business person who wishes to remain anonymous. The Southern Utah USTAR and Small Business Development Center teams will coach and monitor the fledgling companies’ progress as milestones are met.
The “Concept to Company” competitions are Utah’s premier ongoing innovation contests. They are held in various regions across the state with each contest focusing on a different industry. Winning entrepreneurs receive significant cash awards as well as mentoring services from leading professional service partners. To date, the “Concept to Company” contests have distributed more than $540,000 in cash and services and have helped launch over 80 companies. Grow Utah Ventures with the help of Zions Bank has hosted over 15 contests throughout the state.