Olin Cup finalists announced

And then there were eight.

A field of 18 teams was narrowed to eight finalists during the annual Olin Cup “elevator pitch” competition at Washington University in St. Louis Nov. 10.

Forty teams began the competition, sponsored by the Olin Business School and the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, in September. They were vying for $70,000 in seed money to start a new company, but 12 were eliminated in an earlier round of judging.

Four of the remaining teams are student-supported and in the running for an additional $5,000 prize given to the best business proposal submitted by a Washington University student team.

“The elevator pitch competition is really a great event,” says Ken Harrington, managing director of the Skandalaris Center. “By allowing those in attendance to submit their votes for the best presentations, it becomes a very interactive evening. We are excited that four of these teams are either founded or supported by students.”

Audience members were able to rank each of the presentations. The person coming closest to the judge’s rankings received $250.

All contestants were required to submit an executive summary of their proposed business when they entered the competition. From that initial field of 40 entrants, 18 semifinalists were chosen to compete in the “elevator pitch” challenge that required a two-minute presentation of the business idea to a diverse team of judges representing several regional venture capital and investment groups, corporate strategists and university experts.

This year’s finalists are (* indicates student-owned or student-supported venture):

  • Edthena, developing a video improvement platform for educators;
  • Eyelton Therapeutics, developing therapies to treat age-related macular degeneration;
  • Freiezo LLC*, a company developing high-efficiency distributed wind energy systems;
  • HomeNav by Sustaining Spaces, an online homeowners manual and resource guide;
  • Inclusion Sports*, which has developed a new sport called Bulletball, allowing everyone to participate and compete on a level playing field;
  • Loadmaster Toolkit,* which enables Air Force loadmasters to manage aircraft payload and passengers;
  • NewMode Apps,* which seeks to develop and market a suite of apps designed to repurpose outdated tablet computers; and
  • SoMoLend, a web-based peer-to-peer lending company.

The final hurdle for the entrepreneurs will be writing and presenting a full business plan in January 2012. The finalists will each submit a business plan and give a 25-minute oral presentation to the judges with a question-and-answer period as the final phase of the competition.

The Olin Cup winners will be announced Feb 1, 2012, at an awards ceremony.

The Olin Cup was created as a cross-campus activity in 1988 by Olin Business School, and has awarded funding to winning commercial ventures since 2003.

The competition is sponsored by the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association; RubinBrown; Lopata, Flegel & Company LLP; Polsinelli Shughart; St. Louis Commerce Magazine; and Olin Business School.