BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — A trio of Indiana University students swept the second annual Demo Day business pitch competition, which serves as the capstone event for the B-Start pre-accelerator program developed by the Bloomington Economic Development Corp.
The first-prize winner of $2,500 was finance major Zachary Burr. His venture, Tydee Laundry, offers subscription and on-demand laundry and dry-cleaning services.
Earning second prize and $1,500 was informatics major Christopher Podlaski. He is the co-founder of Plant Software, an automated, web-based intelligent scheduling platform.
Third place and $500 went to entrepreneurship and international business major Wes Wagner. His company, Intask, offers a platform to find, use and manage student freelancers to accomplish intern-level work.
In all, nine companies took part in Demo Day and B-Start, a four-month, competitively selective program that provides mentorship, coaching, consultations and informational sessions for budding technology ventures founded and run by IU Bloomington and Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington students. Sponsors include IU’s Innovate Indiana initiative, Cook Group and the Gayle and Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech.
Each company received a $500 stipend to continue its business development. Upon graduation, B-Start ventures continue to participate in group workshops and networking opportunities to continue their development and integration into Bloomington’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
“Starting a business is no easy task, and what we’ve shown these students is that Bloomington has the people and resources to support them through that process,” said Dana Palazzo, vice president of the Bloomington Economic Development Corp. “B-Starters also bring an energy to our local startup ecosystem that revitalizes and challenges even our most seasoned entrepreneurs to keep thinking outside of the box.”
Judges for the event assessed a five-minute pitch for each business, along with business plans submitted by each student entrepreneur. The panel included Tony Armstrong, president and CEO of the Indiana University Research and Technology Corp.; Jim Silberstein, assistant professor of entrepreneurship and chair of the School of Business at Ivy Tech Bloomington; and Rob Dorocke, vice president of global information technology strategies for Cook Medical.
In the fall, B-Start was one of 20 national finalists for the University Economic Development Association’s Awards of Excellence presented at the association’s Annual Summit in Roanoke, Va.
“B-Start gives students an opportunity to work side by side with veteran entrepreneurs,” said Joe Carley, IU’s associate director for economic development. “Within two short years, we’ve seen several B-Start businesses begin to make an impact on the region’s economy, and the potential exists for exponential impacts as they continue to grow and more B-Start graduates emerge.”
About Innovate Indiana: Innovate Indiana engages strategic partners to advance Indiana University’s intellectual resources and expertise, enhance Indiana’s economy and improve Hoosiers’ quality of life. For more information, follow Innovate Indiana on Twitter.
About BEDC: The Bloomington Economic Development Corp. is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the retention, development and attraction of quality jobs in Monroe County. It is led by a partnership of private industry leaders, the City of Bloomington, Monroe County, Indiana University and Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington.