November 9, 2022

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Today, The Launch Place is pleased to announce the top 10 finalists who will be pitching their business plans on stage LIVE at the tenth annual Big Launch Challenge (BLC) to be held on November 17th at the NC Biotech Center in Durham, NC. 

This year’s BLC will include an opportunity for these 10 companies to share their pitches with a panel of 5 judges representing multiple investor groups. These finalists will be given eight minutes to present their business plans to the judges followed by a question and answer block. Below are the 10 finalists.


  • DataQ, Inc.- DataQ helps automate data testing, which is predominantly manual, time-consuming and error-prone. Automation in data testing can decrease the go-to-market time by over 30%. DataQ provides an intuitive self-serve software solution for non-technical and technical users to automate data testing to overcome manual errors and time.
  • Divergene - Divergene is building the future of AI-assisted cell/gene therapy and provides equal access to knowledge and capabilities by democratizing data-driven therapy. They are integrating multimodal data, unlocking the existing data silos, and leveraging deep learning to extract insights from big data to close the gap between cell/gene therapy development and patient treatments.
  • ephemeris, Inc. - Mobile App and E-comm store bridging astrology, spirituality, and technology to encourage connection and self-discovery in the digital age.
  • FemHealth Insights - FemHealth Insights is the world’s most comprehensive data source for the women's health innovation market, known as femtech. They empower business leaders, investors, and innovators to strategically navigate the women’s health industry by providing accurate and nuanced market research and insights.
  • Frontline Gig - Frontline Gig is a SaaS-enabled marketplace that mobilizes gig teams to complete urgent green jobs. They help cities anticipate and respond faster to citizen complaints for litter, weeds, graffiti and nuisance flooding.
  • Hot Route Analytics - Hot Route provides easy analytics for small college sports teams and boosts their wins by 15%. Their online platform, HomeTeam, allows users to explore their open database and use analytics tools they can actually understand to gain an edge against their next opponent.
  • NTP Technologies - NTP uses non-thermal plasma to produce liquid nitrates (fertilizer) onsite and on demand for use in agriculture.
  • Pearlita Foods - Pearlita Foods is the world's first alternative oyster (& mollusk) company using plant-based and cell-based technologies. Their mission is to secure the future of seafood and support clean oceans.
  • STEMZ - Stemz is a tech & logistics company focused on cultivating connectivity between US-based flower farmers & floral creatives through intuitive ordering & convenient distribution.
  • The MilkXchange - MilkXchange is a mobile app-based marketplace that allows parents and caregivers in need of breast milk to easily search a network of milk donors and sellers based on dietary and lifestyle preferences. MilkXchange also offers services that includes background checks and health screenings and provides curated content from experts in the parenting and feeding fields. 


The full panel of judges for the BLC include Krista Covey, MBA, President, First Flight Venture Center; Patrick Gouhin, CEO, Angel Capital Association; Shawna C. Lemon, J.D., Ph.D., Co-Founder xElle Ventures, Co-Founder, Stanek Lemon Crouse + Meeks, PA; Marco Rubin, Senior Investment Director, Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation; Board Chair, The Launch Place Seed Fund Advisory Board; and Autumn Visser, Principal, Woods Rogers Vandeventer Black

A special thanks to RTP Capital, our in-kind contributor, NC IDEA for scholarship support of the 10 finalists to attend ACA University, xElle Ventures for the additional $5,000 in prize money designated to a female lead start-up, and our sponsors – Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation, AmEx, Woods Rogers Vandeventer Black, Early Growth, ExtensionHR and Smith Anderson

The BLC is part of an all-day event starting with the Angel Capital Association's (ACA) Angel University at 7:30am and ending with the pitch competition starting at 2:00pm at the NC Biotechnology Center (15 TW Alexander Dr., Durham, NC 27709). 

ACA Angel University will offer two courses valuable to both angel investors and entrepreneurs—Term Sheet Basics and Valuation. This is a unique experience where these two courses are being taught with angels and entrepreneurs learning together. Learn more about the ACA Angel University at

The Big Launch Challenge, a competition targeting the best startups in the country, is a unique opportunity to see 10 leading startups as they compete for $15,000 in prize money from The Launch Place and $5,000 from xElle Ventures. Over the past 9 years of hosting this competition, The Launch Place has awarded $174,000 to 16 companies. The Launch Place strives to foster an environment for new and serial entrepreneurs in which they can raise capital and have access to support services they need to take their products and/or solutions into the marketplace. 

The Challenge is free to attend, but registration is required. Registration can be found at

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