The BuiltWorlds Startup Challenge: A New Chapter, Six Years on.

This week marks the sixth anniversary of our very first BuiltWorlds Startup challenge. We are actually not sure how many Built World Startup Challenges and Demo Days we have hosted over the past six years, but the number is more than a dozen involving more than a thousand startups. We have held Challenges in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Paris, and digitally.  We have partnered with great folks like Cemex Ventures, FMI, and the Hub at Grand Central Tech to produce the events, and this summer, we are going all the way back to our roots with a startup competition back in Chicago, where we started, focused exclusively on the many exciting startups based in the American interior.

Go Back in Time and Watch the Video of The Very First One

For those who weren’t with us or need a refresher on our very first competition, it was called Judgment Night, and we hosted it almost six year ago today.  We were honored to have a great panel of judges from the leading venture and industry-focused positions in the Midwest including (titles have changed some since 2014) : Private Bank Managing Director John Hoesley Pritzker Group Venture Capital VP Gabe GreenbaumHyde Park Angels Managing Director Peter Wilkins, and Walbridge Technologies‘ VDC Integration Manager Eric Loos.

For more on the competitors from the first startup challenge and who won, you can watch the video above or you can read about the companies at the end of this briefing.

This Year: Announcing the BuiltWorlds Mid Continent Startup Competition

In the spirit of our early years and as a tribute to those who supported us then, we are pleased to announce our first ever Mid-Continent Startup Challenge, specifically focused on startups in the Buildings and Infrastructure Sectors based between the coasts. We invite all interested startups to click the banner below to apply and we hope the broader community will join us live in Oakbrook, Illinois or digitally via live stream as our Venture Program members judge the finalists and pick a brand new winner.

Builtworlds Mid Continent startup challenge

About This Year’s Judges

Judges for the Mid Continent Startup Challenge are fielded from our Venture + and Venture Forum Program Members. These leading strategic players in the Built World Ecosystem include:

  • Barton Malow
  • Clayco
  • Ellis Don
  • Graycor
  • Hill Group
  • Nabholz
  • Owens Corning
  • Saint Gobain
  • Shibumi
  • STO Building Group
  • Syska Hennesy Group
  • Thornton Tomasetti

Not based in the Mid-Continent of America? No worries, Join Us for Our Usual Demo Day Challenge Opportunities Later This Year

beyond the private Demo Days for our Venture Forum and Venture + Members, we now hold demo days almost every month. We will have major public challenges at our 2021 US Summit in September and at our Venture Conference in Miami in November.

Now, Back to That Very First Challenge Six Year Ago…

The competitors in the lineup (excerpted from our contemporaneous writeup) from back in 2015 included the companies. The winner? Watch the video:

  • SmarterShade – According to founder and CEO Mike Stacey, this technology “reinvents smart glass.” Blinds and shades are awkward, he explains. They break, have limited energy control, and in the residential market, their cords and rods even pose risks to small children. SmarterShade, by contrast, is user-controlled but inexpensive, using no power or chemical reaction. It even controls for privacy and glare, in addition to energy use;

  • DynaLifter International – Sometimes the future actually can be found in the past. The Dynalifter® is a hybrid aircraft, combining the operational reliability of a turboprop airplane with the fuel efficiencies of an airship. As a freighter, it can carry unprecedented loads farther than previous airlift systems. At its heart is a patented internal frame that mates the renewable lift capability of helium, with the natural lift of dynamic wings in an airstream. Together, they offer a fuel-efficient, reliable aircraft quantum leaps ahead in cargo bay sizing and lower operational costs;


  • Digital Design Criteria Manual – This cloud-based retail information delivery platform for Owners, Landlords, and Retailers was developed by WorkShop-MG. The firm’s CEO Michael Greeby says DDCM can also be deployed on commercial real estate projects to facilitate design and construction because it solves five key shortcomings of the traditional paper and .pdf manuals typical to the industry. For instance, with search capabilities integrated into the system, it can save users 15 minutes every time they utilize the platform. In this way, and others, DDCM dramatically increases project collaboration and information accuracy, while reducing cost;

  • Pridgit – “3D printing, without the 3D printer!” Pridgit changes the way artists, household consumers, and businesses utilize 3D printing. Pridgit is a global marketplace and network where customers can purchase, or create, 3D printable objects. They provide artists and designers a marketplace to sell 3D designs, and enable print shops to fulfill orders; helping to bring more business to shops all across the country. Have an idea on paper you’d like to see come to life? They would be happy to turn those ideas into 3D printed objects! The next big thing doesn’t have to be hard, so let them make it easy for you!
  • THREADER by MEP Ally – Every project ends with at least some materials and equipment left over. Mechanical, electrical and plumbing contractors traditionally operate on the thinnest margins, so they need to make every dollar count. Threader is a mobile application designed and built by MEP Ally that combines an internal inventory tracking tool to help subs support each other, avoid restocking charges and maximize value.