by TODD STOLARSKI and ROB McMANAMY | April 30, 2015
Unmanned airships, 3D printer marketplaces, digital instruction manuals, polarized glass shades, and a one-stop shop for leftover jobsite materials usually don’t have anything in common. But on BuiltWorlds‘ first-ever Judgment Night pitch event –sponsored by The Private Bank— they did.
Five companies from across the U.S. squared off in a startup battle royale here and there could only be one winner. Beforehand, BuiltWorlds managing director Matt Abeles spoke of the hopeful nature behind this event, remarking, “It fits perfectly with our mission to connect the movers and shakers in the built environment with those young, innovative minds who have the potential to move us and shake us like never before.”
- Check back soon for more videos and photos from this BuiltWorlds special event.
The pitch competition was judged by a panel of four illustrious sheriffs who received their badges for the night. Pritzker Group VP Gabe Greenbaum, The Private Bank‘s John Hoesley, Eric Loos of Wallbridge Technologies, and Hyde Park Angels Managing Director Peter Wilkins, who acted as spokesman for the group, all were up to the task, asking insightful questions and keeping the participants on point. The judging criteria had our panel look at each startup and evaluate them based on the following two factors:
- The most disruptive technology in the built environment;
- The most ready-to-market if boosted by new investment.
With that criteria in front of them, this was not going to be a clear decision for our judges.
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. In from East Lansing MI, young Nick Lazich made the presentation on behalf of a trio of Michigan State University students behind this product, which had just won accolades the week prior at Detroit TechWeek. Ever the student, Lazich took notes furiously during the judges’ critiques.
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 is user-controlled but inexpensive, using no power or chemical reaction. He presented fresh off winning an innovation grant from Wells Fargo just weeks earlier. The judges were more than impressed by Stacey’s presentation, and agreed that great things lie ahead for his product. In fact, the consensus was that it is already so far along, it didn’t need this extra boost;
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. Listening to the presentation by Craig Zimmerman, the judges and audience were blown away by visions of a 1,000-ft-long winged craft transporting truckloads of cargo over clogged highways, waterways, and state lines. Afterwards, one judge speculated about the utility of Dynalifter being employed to drop air-conditioning chillers on top of building projects;
Digital Design Criteria Manual – This cloud-based retail info delivery platform for Owners, Landlords, and Retailers was developed by WorkShop-MG. As CEO Michael Greeby explained, DDCM solves five key shortcomings of the traditional Tenant Criteria Manual. It provides a customizable web and mobile-enabled interface to accelerate the retail delivery process. With search capabilities integrated into the system, it can save users a full 15 minutes every time they utilize the platform. Might not sound like much, but that saved productivity adds up quickly, Greeby noted. At the end of the day, the manual dramatically increases project collaboration and information accuracy, both while reducing cost, he explained.
Ward… boy, were his arms tired!
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. In from Charlotte NC, plumber-turned-CEO Justin Ward made a compelling presentation that ultimately persuaded the panel. They concluded that virtually any subcontractor anywhere could benefit from this product, if the proper support network was established and maintained. And the result would reduce waste and multiply efficiencies. In short, a classic “win-win”.
You won! (Cue > Screaming!)
Once each company presented, there was no doubt each was set to make serious waves, but one question lingered; who would be crowned the winner? After a short deliberation period, Hyde Park’s Chief Angel Wilkins, emerged with the answer. All had impressed, he said, but Dynalifter earned an honorable mention for its larger-than-life retro-concept. And the winner’s trophy went to… drumroll please… Threader!
As his prize, CEO Ward received a deluxe BuiltWorlds tee-shirt (on order), and six months of free placement in the BuiltWorlds Book, “a $4,500 value,” noted Abeles. For his part, Ward, who had an 11 pm flight back to Charlotte that night, said he was “happy to be part of this spectacular event… and I now look forward to a longstanding relationship with BuiltWorlds.”
As do we. In turn, we offer our congratulations to Ward, who traveled the furthest of any participant to be with us for Judgment Night. Kudos also to our other candidates, whom we know we will hear from again in the months and years ahead. And thanks to our judges for giving us their time and talent, and for fostering the kind of helpful dialogue and connectivity we truly hope is becoming a trademark of BuiltWorlds.
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