The Big Launch Challenge 2017

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Research Triangle Park HQ

12 Davis Drive

Research Triangle Park

Durham, NC

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$32,000 in Awards | LIVE Competition - October 10, 2017

The Big Launch Challenge is a joint venture between The Launch Place and the First Flight Venture Center designed to showcase technology-related business ideas in a highly competitive environment. The pitch competition includes awards totaling up to $32,000 for the winners. The challenge has a total of two rounds, plus a final LIVE event. The Big Launch Challenge LIVE event is scheduled for 1:00 pm on October 10, 2017, at the Research Triangle Park Headquarters located at 12 Davis Drive, Research Triangle Park, NC.

- 1st Place $20,000
- 2nd Place $10,000
- Audience Choice $2,000 -- NEW this year

10 Finalist will be selected this year.

The challenge is an annual event and offers startups valuable business networking and capital opportunities, as well as critical resources. The goal of The Big Launch Challenge is to foster entrepreneurship by offering education, team creation, mentorship, early-stage prototyping, and potential follow-on seed financing. Startups from the nanotechnology, green technology, alternative energy, advanced manufacturing, advanced materials, medical devices, and information technology industries are invited to apply for The Big Launch Challenge’s fourth year.

Deadline to apply was July 24.

2017 Judges

Robert J. Creeden

Managing Director, UVA Seed Fund & New Ventures; Board Member, The Launch Place Seed Fund

Bob Creeden joined the UVA Licensing & Ventures Group in September 2016 as its first Managing Director of the UVA Seed Fund & New Ventures. Bob's experience includes launching the Partners Innovation Fund at Partners HealthCare in Boston, one of the first academic medical center venture funds of its kind in the country. Bob is an senior entrepreneurial executive with extensive experience commercializing new technologies, as well as more than 25 years experience as an early-stage venture capitalist. Proven expertise developing and implementing vision, strategy, and tactics to create, operate, and fund new ventures across multiple industries. Collaborative leader and advisor, with excellent communication, presentation, and relationship-building skills. Frequent speaker, panelist, and lecturer on issues related to starting and funding a business. Prior to joining UVA, Bob most recently served as the founding executive director of the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network in the North Carolina Research Triangle. His efforts helped strengthen the area’s business environment, resulting in early-stage and seed investment of more than $60 million. Bob earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Holy Cross College and a master's of business administration from Suffolk University.

Stephen Clossick

Fund Manager, Triangle Angel Partners

Stephen Clossick is the Fund Manager of Triangle Angel Partners (TAP), which has two angel investment funds based in Research Triangle Park, NC. TAP I started in 2011, and the second fund kicked off in September of 2015, which is when Stephen came on board to manage TAP. TAP II has more than 80 members and $4M in committed capital with which to make Seed and Series A investments in technology companies based in North Carolina or nearby. Fund II already has 7 portfolio companies. The first fund had capital of about $2.7M and 9 portfolio companies.

After serving in the US Army in the late 1980’s, Stephen earned a B.A. in International Studies from UNC-CH in 1992.

His work with angel investors began in 1999, when he joined Tri-State Investment Group (TIG) as a part-time Administrator. When the group’s fourth fund opened in 2000, he took on full-time responsibilities for three of the funds, eventually leading all three through harvest mode and dissolution by 2013. TIG’s three funds had over $13M under management and had two IPO’s (Motricity and ChannelAdvisor) during Stephen’s tenure.

He also administers WBP, LLC, a real estate investment group, and is the former part-time controller of World Tavern Entertainment, LLC.

Jan L. Davis

Retired CEO, ShopperTrak RCT Corporation; Investor, Triangle Angel Partners; Board Member, The Launch Place Seed Fund

Jan Davis is a retired CEO and active board member for companies in drowning prevention, software, analytics, database and digital marketing and information. These enterprises sell products and services to a broad range of industries, including retail, real estate, financial services and insurance as well as on-line to consumers. She presently serves on the boards of directors of, SEAL Innovation and GSP Marketing Technologies and on the boards of advisors of multiple companies, including Megalytics, Market Vue Partners, Spring Metrics and Three Ships Digital. She is President of Triangle Angel Partners, an Executive in Residence for the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network, and on the Investment Committee for the non-profit Launch Place Seed Fund.

Davis served as CEO of ShopperTrak RCT Corporation, the global leader in pedestrian traffic counting, from 2004 to 2008. Before joining ShopperTrak, she was an executive vice president and business unit president at TransUnion LLC, the international credit reporting giant. Previously, Davis was a marketing consultant in Boston, MA and in Warsaw, Poland, working with a US database marketing agency, multi-nationals and a Polish enterprise. She co-founded SmartNames, a venture-backed database marketing information, analysis and services company.

Davis holds a BA and an MBA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

James Ramey

Principal and Fund Manager, Virginia Tech / Carilion Innovation Fund

James has been a VTC Innovation Fund member since inception. James’ responsibilities include deal sourcing, due diligence, deal and closing document review and negotiation, portfolio monitoring, and other day to day operations.

Before joining the VTC Innovation Fund and Middleland Capital, James was a Vice President at Tyton Partners, a leading M&A advisory firm in the education and ed-tech sectors. Notably, while at Tyton, James led the deal team in the sale of WebAssign, a provider of digital learning solutions in higher education to Cengage Learning, an education and technology Company.

Prior to Tyton Partners, James was a Senior Associate at Invest Nebraska Corporation, a sector-agnostic venture capital & development firm specializing in equity and debt financings within the lower middle-market. While at Invest Nebraska Corporation, James actively led and/or supported a significant number of transactions through sourcing, financial analysis, valuation, due diligence, deal structuring & negotiation, closing, and monitoring.

Prior to Invest Nebraska Corporation, James was an Associate Attorney at Knudsen, Berkheimer, Richardson & Endacott, LLP where he practiced in a wide range of legal fields including transactional law, bankruptcy, estate planning, creditor rights, landlord/tenant, real estate, corporate law and civil litigation.

James attended law school at the University of Nebraska College of Law. While in law school he was awarded the prestigious Gross & Welch Best Brief Award in 2009 for the best overall brief in legal writing. He received his Juris Doctorate with distinction from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 2011 and was admitted to the Nebraska State Bar Association in September. James holds a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice. While attending the University of Nebraska James made the National Dean’s List and was awarded the Aaron Douglas Academic Scholarship from 2004 through 2007. In November, 2013, James attended and graduated from the Venture Capital Institute, an intensive 3-day venture capital certificate program.

Paul Nolde

Director of Business Development, NRV

Paul brings more than a decade of sales and management experience in the banking and finance industries to NRV. Offering a unique blend of early stage capital structuring and business development strategies, he has a passion for engaging in, and advocating for, the entrepreneurial community. Prior to NRV he served as the Small Business Capital Strategist for Virginia Community Capital, Virginia’s largest community development financial institution. Paul also served as Managing Director for a small family office in Richmond, VA, that took seed and angel stage equity positions in start-up market makers and maturing market disrupters in the technology sector. He is a frequent panelist and speaker on early stage investing, serves on multiple higher ed and community organization boards, and enjoys mentoring Richmond's high growth startups. At NRV, Paul is responsible for originating deal opportunities, expanding the firm's brand and reach across the Commonwealth and among strategic funding partners, analyzing investment proposals, and supporting portfolio companies.

Paul received a Bachelor of Arts in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia.

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Research Triangle Park HQ

12 Davis Drive

Research Triangle Park

Durham, NC

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