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AZ Tech Beat | December 11, 2019

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The 10 Startups That Presented At Extreme Pitch

The 10 Startups That Presented At Extreme Pitch
Christina O'Haver

Ten entrepreneurs pitched their startup companies at the 2nd annual Extreme Pitch event at Gangplank in Chandler Tuesday night. After the four-minute pitches, the seven panelists selected the top three finalists and the audience chose the winner.

Here’s a breakdown of the startups that participated:

Plexus Controls (Winner): Presented by Zoran Medic, the company’s mission is to develop and manufacture advanced tech projects that help reduce energy waste and consumption in residential and commercial buildings. It aims to offer an easier and more affordable alternative to retrofitting buildings through the implementation of automated, wireless devices, starting with window shade control. They have already sold about 200 motorized shade units, so it looks like they have a shot at succeeding in the competitive green market.

True Points (Top 3): Founder Daniel Stone frequents a local deli and after several visits, he learned of its punch card. Disappointed that he had been missing out on earning rewards for his loyalty, he conceptualized True Points. Launching in June, the startup will link merchants’ reward programs to customers’ credit or debit cards so that customers can shop normally and rack up points. Finally! I could purge my wallet of all my loyalty cards, and still earn rewards if I forget to use them. In addition to building loyal customers, businesses will be able to access data about who their customers are – a Google Analytics for Brick and Mortar, Stone said.

Audio Excursions (Top 3): A winner of ASU’s Edson Student Entrepreneurship Initiative, founder Benson Garner aims to aggregate audio tours into one online library and eventually become the largest directory of self-guided tours anywhere. He impressed the panelists by announcing that he already has a customer, the Arizona Museum of Natural History. He’s also working with the Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix Art Museum and others.

But I Don’t Want a Real Job!: Wearing a bright pink blouse and exuding tons of energy, founder Isha Cogborn gave the first, and most enthusiastic, pitch of the night. This woman has done some public speaking before. The aptly named startup is a support group for entrepreneurs that provides them with an online community, and a platform of resources to help them succeed.

Phoneword: So you spot an advertisement for a business and you don’t really know much about it. There’s a phone number listed but maybe you’d rather do a little research first. This startup wants to make that process easier. Presented by founder Jay Carpenter, Phoneword is an enhanced dialer that can be embedded into a website or mobile app. Simply dial the number and either view a video or the business’s website, or make a traditional phone call. It sounds kind of like a QR code alternative.

You Pag.es – Founder Mark Von Der Linn likes YouTube. He likes its open platform and its sharing integration, and he thinks videos are awesome. But Von Der Linn has a vision for a YouTube-like sharing platform that includes all types of media such as photos, text, audio, links, graphics and, of course, video. By using a drag-and-drop interface, users can create various multimedia projects from business and school reports to e-cards and scrapbooks. Keep an eye out for the Kickstarter page.

Intuitive Visions – Carl Varnado believes there is a disconnect between people’s spiritual lives and entertainment lives, and he hopes to bridge that gap. Varnado plans to present the stories of the Bible through entertaining mediums. He presented Book of Kings, a nine-book graphic novel series that presents Biblical stories in a captivating visual way. I envision these products to be of interest to parents who want to teach their children about religion.

IcoText – Owner Dierk Seeburg wants to make popular mobile apps available around the world. His startup, IcoText, converts smartphone apps to different languages and also offers website localization, social media assistance and customer service. IcoText has one app on board and plans to reach 10,000 by 2017, which Seeburg said is a conservative estimate.

Just Ran It – Runners stop running. That’s the problem founder Stuart Preston plans to solve. Just Ran It is a web app that keeps runners on track (excuse the pun) through competition with their friends who use the app, rewards for reaching milestones and recommendations for upcoming races. He has plans for a mobile app, which will be essential. I’d probably forget to log my miles if I had to go home to do it.

Skrittle – We all love to waste time on the Internet. Between YouTube cat videos and .gif memes, we can put off work for as long as we can afford to. But Skrittle founder Ben Hall wants to aggregate this time-wasting content into one place to make it easier for procrastinators to find. He lists websites such as StumbleUpon, Reddit, Delicious and Mashable as his competitors, but said Skrittle is easier and faster because it can be used while surfing any webpage by clicking the bookmarklet.

  • Hamid Shojaee

    So I was one of the panelist and based on the pitches alone, here were my thoughts:

    Top 3 (in no particular order):

     – Audio Excursions
     – True Points
     – YouPag.es

    Skrittle was a close one to make it to top 3 in my opinion. I also loved the enthusiasm of Isha Cogborn. She was by far the best presenter. 

    • Mark Von Der Linn

      Hamid,  Thanks for the vote of confidence in YouPag.es. And I second your other comments. Thanks for making time to judge.

  • I had the opportunity to watch the pitches and my favorite pitches of the night were Audio Excursions and True Points. The idea brought on by the panelists to open up Audio Excursions to become a crowd-sourced audio tour library where anyone could have the opportunity to create audio tours for places they love is really great and I hope that gets integrated somehow into their current plan, and if True Points works they way it claims to and perhaps adds a mobile app as a way to quickly check rewards and redeem them it has the potential to be big.

  • Mark Von Der Linn

    Nice work… a very well written article. Thanks much for the coverage, BTW.

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