Education, auto technologies triumph at Southern Utah Crowdpitch

ST. GEORGE – The 2014 Crowdpitch event, part of the Southern Utah Concept to Company contest, took place in the Dixie State University Holland Center Friday afternoon.

The Smart Hub, by Lumos, received the $10,000 top cash prize. Audience IN, by Velocity Webworks, and On-Car Mechanic were the runners-up in the competition, each winning $5,000 in cash and another $4,000 in services. Diesel CNG was the $500 crowd winner.

Shane Cox, CEO of the Smart Hub, said his hardware solves the problem of multiple technical devices in a classroom.

“A teacher or facilitator comes in and tries to connect their device with the projector, and it often doesn’t work or is full of bugs,” Cox said. The Smart Hub would allow teachers to seamlessly interact with the classroom using whatever technology they choose.

Audience IN allows presenters to import their presentation slides and add interactive engagement tools such as quizzes, polls and games. Participants use Web-enabled devices to interact with the presenter, increasing engagement. Audience IN founders are Scott Hoopes, Jamie Lords and Dan Purcell.

Marv and Diane Ray’s Quick Connect tool has a wireless adaptor that turns a smartphone into an On-Car Mechanic to make sure users don’t ever get ripped off in automotive repair.

The Diesel CNG hybrid controller by Merrill Campbell monitors temperature in diesel/natural gas hybrid engines and stops the natural gas flow to prevent engine damage due to excessive heat.

The Crowdpitch was the climaxing event of the Southern Utah Concept to Company contest, produced statewide by Grow Utah Ventures and Zions Bank and locally by SEED Dixie and USTAR. The eight finalists participating Friday had been selected from 30 initial entries focusing on technology.

“It’s an organized eight-week selection process,” said Jeff Carlson, one of nine investors and economic development experts judging the applicants.

Teams presented expo-style to the judges, who evaluated the presented ideas based on uniqueness, management teams, customer need and market. As the judges retired to an adjacent room, the crowd, made up of the Dixie Technical Association, businesspeople and community members, visited with the companies and voted for their own winner.

In addition to cash prizes, in-kind service prizes provided by Durham, Jones and Pinegar Law; Savage, Esplin and Radmall Accounting; and OveractDev technology partners are designed to help the companies in their startup phases.

Funding for the contest winners is all private money, said Jill Elliss, Southern Utah USTAR Director.

“This year, we received an additional $20,000 in cash to be awarded to the ‘Rookie of the Year,’” Elliss said.

Rx Trax, mobile software for pharmacies delivering drugs and medical devices, won “Rookie of the Year,” an award for the company achieving the most traction in the startup year. Ellis noted that this year’s Concept to Company applicants will be eligible for next year’s “Rookie of the Year” award.

Craig Bott, of Grow Utah Ventures, said the goal of the contest is to nurture companies that have the potential to create higher-paying jobs in the region.

“Every year, the applicant business projects seem to get stronger,” Bott said.

Submitted by USTAR

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