Three up-and-coming businesses competed for prizes and bragging rights as finalists in the inaugural Startup Pitch at the 2020 Utah Economic & Energy Summit on Monday, Oct. 26, at The Grand America Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City. The winners took home $10,000 in prizes, including three judge prizes and a people’s choice prize after a live audience vote.
The competition was added to the Summit this year to highlight the state’s thriving entrepreneurship community, all it does to help drive the economy, and add some fun and audience engagement to the state’s leading economic conference. The Startup Pitch was sponsored by Clarke Capital Partners and managed in partnership between the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development and the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute at the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business.
Parq won the first-place judging prize, $3,000, six months of free office space at The Shop Workplace and an iPad from Now CFO. Parq offers an app that connects people who want to rent parking spaces with businesses and individuals with extra spaces in their driveways and parking lots. It’s now available for download on the Android and Apple app stores.
“We are going to be the next Uber starting in Utah, and we are going to be doing that through parking,” said William Pepper, CEO of Parq and a business student at the University of Utah, during his pitch to a 500-person online audience. He later added, “Did you know that the average person wastes 64 hours a year on finding parking? Imagine that 30% of a city’s traffic come from people actively finding parking, costing the U.S. $74 billion per year on emissions, gas and environmental cost.”
Parq has received support and assistance from many programs at the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, including grants, office space and expert mentorship. The Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute provides many programs and resources to all students at the University of Utah to launch companies and learn by doing.
Uncle Bob’s Country Butter won the people’s choice prize and $4,000, the largest cash prize in the competition. It also won the second-place judges’ award and $2,000. The company sells a line of creamy and rich buttermilk syrups for pancakes and other purposes. Flavors include original buttermilk, cinnamon bun, creamy maple and coconut cream. The syrups are available in local grocery stories, online and the company is launching a new partnership to distribute at Costco.
“Every time our extended family came over for a pancake breakfast, our nieces and nephews would literally exclaim, ‘Uncle Bob, we love your country syrup!’ Thus, the name Uncle Bob’s Country Syrup,” said Bob Smith, who co-founded the company with his family, including son, Jared Smith, who pitched at the Summit next to him. “After decades of enjoying our homemade syrup, we decided to make it available for everyone to enjoy.”
Medforums won the third-place judges’ prize and $1,000. It provides a peer-reviewed network of medical education resources. It is like Yelp, except it provides medical training information instead of restaurant reviews.
“Medforums is an information distribution platform built for health care providers for health care providers,” said Angela Dayton, CEO, president and co-founder of Medforums. “By supporting Medforums, you are supporting Utah health care providers as we simply provide them access to medical information so they can then stay up to date.”
The three finalists in the Startup Pitch advanced from 40 startups that applied to the competition. Each finalist had 5 minutes to pitch to a panel of expert judges and a live audience during the summit. During the pitch, they were only allowed to use one slide. After their pitch, they responded to questions from the judges. The judges asked serious questions related to business models and packaging to funny ones like when Uncle Bob’s Butter Country would be available for intravenous use because it’s so delicious.
The expert judges for the event included: Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, State of Utah; Taylor Randall, dean, University of Utah, David Eccles School of Business; Cydni Tetro, founder of ForgeDX and co-founder of Women’s Tech Council; Tara Spaulding, president and founder, Hen House Ventures; and Sid Krommenhoek, Founder & General Partner at Album VC. The moderator for the pitch was James Clarke, founder and CEO of Clarke Capital Partners.
“For more than a decade the Utah Economic Summit has included and celebrated the accomplishments of some of Utah’s best and brightest business leaders. This year, we’ve partnered with the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute in the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah to provide some top-level exposure to few of the state’s promising entrepreneurs,” said Val Hale, the executive director of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
The Utah Economic & Energy Summit, including the Startup Pitch, was held online this year. All audience members attended virtually, while the participants broadcast live.
“I’ll admit that today doesn’t look anything like we thought it would be. Even a few days ago, I expected to be attending this event with you in person at The Grand America,” said Utah Gov. Gary Herbert. “We have already postponed this event several times because of COVID-19 and perhaps is only fitting that I am joining with you virtually. What could be more 2020?”
2020 Startup Pitch Winners
Here are the 2020 Startup Pitch prizes:
- 1st Place Judge’s Award ($3,000) — Parq
- 2nd Place Judge’s Award ($2,000) — Uncle Bob’s Butter Country
- 3rd Place Judge’s Award ($1,000) — Medforums
- People’s Choice ($4,000) — Uncle Bob’s Butter Country
2020 Top 10 Teams
Here are the top 10 teams in the Startup Pitch (in alphabetical order):
- Auxilium Automation
- Care Weather Technologies
- Fia Care
- Layla Wellness
- SlideKick Technologies
- Uncle Bob’s Butter Country
About the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute
The Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute is a nationally ranked hub for student entrepreneurship and innovation at the University of Utah and an interdisciplinary division of the David Eccles School of Business. The first programs were offered in 2001, through the vision and support of Pierre Lassonde, an alumnus of the Eccles School and successful mining entrepreneur. The institute now provides opportunities for thousands of students to learn about entrepreneurship and innovation. Programs include workshops, networking events, business-plan competitions, startup support, innovation programs, graduate seminars, scholarships, community outreach and more. All programs are open to students from any academic major or background. The Lassonde Institute also manages Lassonde Studios, a five-story innovation space and housing facility for all students. Learn more at lassonde.utah.edu.
Here are images from the Startup Pitch event. Click the images to enlarge the images and open the gallery: