The Big Launch Challenge

Big Launch Challenge Winners Judges and competitors

Ten finalists took the stage on Wednesday, November 7 to compete at the Big Launch Challenge held in Danville, VA. In its fifth year, the Big Launch Challenge has received 218 applications, awarded $119,000 to 12 companies since its inception. The finalists were given twelve minutes to present their business to a panel of judges followed by a short question and answer block. 

The competition kicked off at 10:00am with an opening welcome from Eva Doss, President & CEO of The Launch Place, and Luke Marshall, Cofounder & CEO of VitalFlo. VitalFlo, a lung health analytics platform with a patent-pending mobile spirometer, was the winner of last year’s competition and has since received a $75,000 investment from The Launch Place.  

The goal of the Big Launch Challenge is to provide early-stage startups the opportunity to pitch their ideas to investors, and for The Launch Place Pre-Seed and Seed Fund to generate deal flow. 

The winners for the 2018 competition were: 

  • 1st Place – INF Robotics
  • 2nd Place – Skyphos Technologies

Competition winners will also receive access to several resources provided by The Launch Place and First Flight Venture Center, including training, networking, mentorship and early-stage prototyping. 

This year, Paul Singh, founder of Disruption Corporation and serial investor in 2,600+ companies, was the keynote speaker for the event and joined the panel of judges. With his startup background and vast corporate experience, Singh shared his unique insights to competitors and audience members throughout the competition. Paul was in Danville from November 6-8, as part of his American Tech Tour, meeting with entrepreneurs, community leaders and established businesses. 

10 Finalists 
  • Crate Systems, LLC - New breed of modular, providing patent pending portable storage systems for college students
  • EnerVision - Li-ion battery solution provider for portable power stations
  • EverSafe Bracelet - Child safety tracking wearable device with proprietary locking mechanism
  • INF Robotics - Developed RUDY, the intuitive mobile social robot that is designed to promote an active and independent lifestyle, while keeping older adults connected to their care community
  • KnoNap - Rape drug detecting napkin
  • Murano Corporation - Helps manufacturers cut waste from their supply chains using AI
  • Protopia - Protopia is the ‘easy button’ for entrepreneurial communities
  • Skyphos Technologies - High Range Resolution-3D printing or additive manufacturing
  • Wellthly - Saving and controlling employer healthcare costs (20-500 employees)
  • Zogo, Inc. - The Zogo app is the first forward looking financial coach for your teenagers

The full panel of judges included Paul Clark, Managing Director, VentureSouth; Jan Davis, Retired CEO, ShopperTrak RCT Corporation; Investor, Triangle Angel Partners; Board Chair, The Launch Place Seed Fund; and Entrepreneur in Residence; Paul Nolde, Director, NRV; Paul Singh, Serial Entrepreneur, Investor, Airstreamer, & Disruptor; and Autumn Visser, Principal, Woods Rogers, PLC.

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.