Startups compete for $500 prize as Pitch Night evolves

February 13, 2013
photo - Broadband T CEO David Neinaber makes a pitch at the Peak Venture Group Pitch Night on Tuesday. Photo by WAYNE HEILMAN, THE GAZETTE
Broadband T CEO David Neinaber makes a pitch at the Peak Venture Group Pitch Night on Tuesday. Photo by WAYNE HEILMAN, THE GAZETTE 

Things went swimmingly Tuesday evening for a Denver startup braving a local “Shark Tank.”

CLvr TV, which is developing software that allows people to tag anything in online videos won the first $500 prize awarded Tuesday to the best business plan presented at the Peak Venture Group Pitch Night at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

The company was started in Centennial in 2007 to make online videos more interactive and become a measurable way to steer viewers to viral shopping carts, booking agents, lead generators and social media followers, said Mike Wagle, the company’s co-founder and CEO.

Clvr TV competed against four other startups to win the prize awarded by a panel of four judges who heard five-minute presentations about each company’s business plan; the presentations ranged from slickly produced sales pitches to highly technical explanations of proposed products.

“There were a lot of smart, talented people here with great ideas to present, and it is an honor to be part of that group,” Wagle said after winning the prize. “We will probably donate the prize back to the group that organized this because we believe it is important to cultivate events like this.”

The competition, co-sponsored by the El Pomar Institute for Innovation and Commercialization, was a new twist on Peak Venture Group’s 1½-year-old monthly event where entrepreneurs pitch their business plans to each other to sharpen their presentations before they make them to potential investors. The new format was inspired by the popular television series  “Shark Tank,” where a panel of entrepreneurs and business executives called “sharks” listen to pitches from entrepreneurs and decide whether to invest in the entrepreneurs’ ideas.

The local juding panel featured Colleen Stiles of the UCCS Bachelor of Innovation program, Tom Warda of startup Butterfly MD, David Coffin of Fluke Networks and Joseph Coleman of the Blue Star and Nosh restaurants.

The other four competitors included Veloci-Tech, a company headed by UCCS students that has developed a speedometer for longboards; Wanamaker Corp., which developed a smartphone application that posts competitor scores on an online leaderboard for charity golf tournaments; Stori, which is developing a location-based social media application; and Broadband T Corp., which is developing a semiconductor that would allow smartphones to perform multiple wireless tasks such as radar detection or opening a garage door.

Coleman didn’t pull any punches during the hour-long event, challenging the student team and arguing with Stiles, who worked with the team, on the need for their product; he also asked Wanamaker founder Doyle Heisler what competitor would kick his company’s behind “three years from now when you are bringing in double-digit millions in revenue.” Stiles asked Wagle whether he had used his own product and told Broadband T CEO David Neinaber that she didn’t under how his company’s technology works and that he needed to tell investors up-front what that technology could do.

Clvr TV employs 12 and has signed Denver-based snowboard and longboard manufacturer Ever Summer Industries as its first major customer, Wagle said. The company generated $1 million in revenue last year from licensing fees for its software and expects to double that total this year, he said.

Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234 Twitter @wayneheilman
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