Tejon Technologies Inc., a Colorado Springs startup that helps business owners and managers more easily create databases, won the first "Get in the Ring" competition Tuesday at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and will travel to Singapore in two weeks to take part in the global contest.
The company, which goes by the name Tejon Tech, edged out a San Diego company called Shop Immigration Inc., which helps connect immigrants with immigration attorneys and finished second among the 10 startups that faced off in a boxing ring before a crowd of about 50 people that voted on which startup made the best pitch. Michael Larson, a UCCS professor who organized the event hosted by the school's El Pomar Institute for Innovation and Commercialization, called the quality of the pitches "outstanding. Top-to-bottom we had good candidates."
Paul Nielsen, founder and CEO of Tejon Tech, said the competition was "like Shark Tank (the ABC-TV series now in its eighth season), but more competitive. It is just now sinking in - the implications of winning this competition. There were plenty of well-prepared startups with polished business plans and great pitches competing with us."
Nielsen, who has written seven textbooks on Microsoft SQL databases, started working full-time six years ago to develop software to create "codeless" SQL databases, incorporating in January 2016 and financing the company with his own savings, loans from Five Star Bank and other personal sources of financing.
"A startup is never and overnight success, and this had been a lot of work - 70-hour weeks. My wife has a good job and she has really paid a price for this dream," Nielsen said. Tejon Tech plans to launch its software later this year and Nielsen hopes the company eventually will form a partnership with a large software company to help "scale" the business.
Nielsen recruited UCCS Student Body President and fellow Peak Startup board member Samuel Elliott, who graduates next week with a bachelor of innovation degree, about two weeks ago to join him as a cofounder and to handle business development for the Tejon Tech, including coming up with the pitch that won Tuesday's competition.
"I was familiar with the product and extremely interested in the company," Elliott said. "The competition gave us a deadline to put something together and allowed Paul and I to work together. I hope that we will be working together for a long time."
Larson said the judges for the competition believe that Tejon Tech has "a business plan that is scalable and can revolutionize the database industry."
EPIIC plans to host the competition in the Springs again next year, although Larson plans to schedule it earlier in the year so it doesn't conflict with end-of-semester events at UCCS.
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