vs_Sharktank_headerSquareVenture Connectors has chosen 11 semifinalists to compete in the preliminary round of our 7th annual Venture Sharks‚Ñ¢ business competition on Wednesday, April 13, at 5:30 p.m. at Chef Space, 1812 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd. Click here to register.

During the event, all 11 entrepreneurs will present their business plans to a panel of savvy investor sharks fishing for the next great deal. The field will be narrowed to four finalists, who will then vie for $23,000 in cash and prizes at Venture Connectors’ regular monthly lunch on Wednesday, May 4, at the Muhammad Ali Center.

This year’s prize is more than double the amount of past years, thanks to our generous sponsors. In addition to the main prize, five past winners have pooled their resources and will offer a $250 cash prize to the finalist of their choosing on May 4. Logjustrips, GearBrake, Wicked Sheets, U.S. Chia and Surgical Serenity Solutions may award their special prize to a competitor other than the winner named by the judges.

Venture Connectors received more than 40 applications from entrepreneurs across the region. The Venture Sharks selection committee chose the top 10 big ideas for the first round of the competition. The winner of the 2016 Startup Weekend competition was automatically entered as the 11th semifinalist. The semifinalists are:

  • CompassioNote (Startup Weekend 2016 winner): Helps companies have better relationships with their customers by providing personalized data.
  • Fanvester: Provides crowdfunded concerts and live entertainment.
  • Farm Specific Technology: Creates innovative solutions to improve the sustainability of food systems.
  • Fund My Edu: Lowers student loan debt and increases credit scores through micro-payments.
  • Mail-Haven: 21st century mailbox designed to secure packages for absent homeowners.
  • Riot Cosmetics: Makes handmade cruelty-free, vegan-friendly cosmetics.
  • Stinger Equipment Inc.: Builds innovative equipment for landscapers.
  • Switcher Studio: Develops easy-to-use and affordable live video streaming tools that allows users to create TV-style productions for the web.
  • Totally Nalley Cakes: Manufactures cake design accessories.
  • Uncrash: Helps auto body shops organize their work and automate communication.
  • ZOFI Kombucha: Manufactures a delicious and healthful organic, sparkling, fermented elixir formulated for shelf stability.

(UPDATE: Fund My Edu and Riot Cosmetics dropped out of the competition prior to the semifinals event.)

For the final round May 4, presenters will be allowed a few minutes to describe their idea to the judges, who then will fire off questions to the presenters in the style of the popular television show, “Shark Tank.” One lucky survivor will receive $23,000 in cash and prizes to help them take their idea to market. The Venture Sharks winner will be selected based on the viability of their idea, the ability of the final award to positively impact the business and the quality of their presentation. The winner must agree to use both the cash award and the in-kind services to directly pursue the business opportunity presented in the competition.

Sponsors for this year’s Venture Sharks include: Commonwealth Seed Capital, gold sponsor; ARGI Financial, silver sponsor; and Mightily, Stoll Keenon Ogden, Nucleus and McCrorey Digital, in-kind sponsors.

Judges for the 2016 Venture Sharks preliminary round are Venture Connectors board members Tendai Charasika, CEO of SuperFanU Inc.; Ross Jordan, senior associate for Yearling Funds LP; and Alli Truttman, CEO of Wicked Sheets LLC. Judges for the final round are: Bob Saunders, general partner, OCAVentures; Elizabeth Rounsavall, director of research and analytics, Chrysalis Ventures; Lou Kelmanson, president, Kelmanson Holdings LLC; and Vik Chadha, managing director, GlowTouch Technologies.

The preliminary event on April 13 is free and open to the public. The final round on May 4 is free to members and $40 for nonmembers. Doors open at 11:30 a.m., and the meeting runs from noon-1:15 p.m. RSVPs to the both events are required. Visit our upcoming events page to register.