Two winners selected at UT Pitch & Pour competitionWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom Burden of Grypshon and Mollie Verdier of Therapals won the second Pitch & Pour business pitch competition held Jan. 30 at the University of Toledo. The competition was organized by UT’s Launch Pad Incubation Program.
Seven teams of contestants, three of them led by students, pitched their ideas to a panel of four experienced entrepreneurial judges and nearly 250 guests at the event. The audience was allowed to vote for one student team and one non-student team by text during the event.
The first and second place winners were given the opportunity to pick between two different prize packages consisting of cash and startup resources. Cash and prizes for the event have a total value of $10,000, according to Molly Reams Thompson, director of business incubation at UT.
Burden was selected as the first place winner in the student category with his company, Grypshon Industries. His product is a form-fitting, non-slip mat used for maintenance performed on commercial and military aircraft.
The Grypshon friction mat is designed to provide a safer work environment for airmen who stand on jets to perform maintenance service and repairs. Burden told the audience that he has found local sources so that the mat will be fully developed and produced in Toledo.
The mat not only enhances the safety of the aircraft personnel but also improves productivity by reducing the number of persons required for those jobs, Burden said. He and his colleague Bryan Robbins demonstrated how it works during their presentation.
Burden said they already have some support from military sources. He will be attending military-related trade shows in Columbus in April and Chicago in August to promote the product to potential users.
Burden is a mechanical engineering technology student at UT and a native of Celina, Ohio. As a staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, he works on jet aircraft at the 180th Fighter Wing of the Ohio Air National Guard Base at Toledo Express Airport.
Verdier took first place in the non-student category with her business, Therapals, based in Sidney, Ohio. She has developed an online social community and video-based activity center for children receiving speech, occupational and physical therapy services.
Therapals offers a safe and secure social network where children, parents and professionals from around the world can connect with others through the company’s online matching program.
A child with a disability can learn from another child his or her own age who has mastered a skill, rather than from a therapist who may not have that disability, Verdier told the Pitch & Pour audience. The Therapals website offers custom videos to meet the therapeutic needs of the children in their homes.
“We want people to see the real value of the products and services we provide,” Verdier said.
She said they already have 450 users from as far away as British Columbia and Germany just from her occupational therapy contacts and word of mouth.
“We would like to get help with the business end, such as marketing from the prizes we won,” she said.
The UT Launch Pad Incubation Program provides intensive entrepreneurial experience, access to capital, state-of-the-art facilities and other valuable resources to early-stage, technology-based startup companies.
Launch Pad is focused on taking business ventures from concept to commercialization and providing a framework for companies to become thriving, self-sustaining members of the community, Thompson said.
Some of the competitors in the Pitch & Pour event said they also plan to compete in the upcoming Business Pitch Competition conducted by UT’s College of Business and Innovation. The competition is open to UT staff and students with an opportunity to win up to $10,000 to help establish their business.
All entries for the competition must be submitted by Feb. 21 and the finalists will be named March 21. Finalists will make an oral presentation about their plan noon to 5 p.m. April 8 in the PNC Entrepreneurship Lab at the Savage & Associates Complex for Business Learning and Engagement. Winners will be announced April 15.
Questions about the competition should be directed to Sonny Ariss at email@example.com. For information about the Launch Pad Incubation Program, visit www.utoledo.edu/incubator.
Tags: 180th Fighter Wing of the Ohio Air National Guard Base, April Chicago, Columbus, military-related trade shows, Mollie Verdier of Therapals, Pitch & Pour business pitch competition, PNC Entrepreneurship Lab, Savage & Associates Complex for Business Learning and Engagement, Toledo Express Airport, Tom Burden of Grypshon, University of Toledo, UT’s College of Business and Innovation