September 8, 2023

The Big Launch Challenge Pitch Competition - October 5, 2023

The Big Launch Challenge is a Business Pitch Competition where finalists pitch their early stage startup idea to a panel of judges and a live audience.  The top competitors will be awarded $15,000 in prize money.

There is no charge to attend The Big Launch Challenge and it is open to the public. However, advance registration is required. This is an excellent opportunity for anyone interested in investing or entrepreneurship to learn about startup development resources, network with a wide range of business professionals and to explore entrepreneurship as a career option.

The Big Launch Challenge is a live event that will be held at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center in Durham, North Carolina (15 TW Alexander Drive).

Register Now

The Big Launch Challenge Judges
  • Dr. Dawn Batts, Director of Growth Capital, Tech Town
  • Timothy J. Cartwright, Founder and CEO, Fifth Avenue Family Office; Chairman and Founder, Tamiami Angel Funds, LLC; General Partner, Adrenaline Venture Fund 
  • Dr. Silvia Mah, General Partner, Stella Impact Capital
  • Sumedha Mongia, MD, Physician, Founder, Angel Investor, Healthcare Leader
  • Rick Timmins, Angel Investor/Venture Capital; Former Chairman, Central Texas Angel Network
  • Autumn Visser, Principal, Woods Rogers Vandeventer Black PLC 

Learn more about The Big Launch Challenge Judges


Ron Weissman

Keynote Speaker

Ron Weissman

Chair, Board of Directors, Angel Capital Association and Chair, Software Industry Group at Band of Angels

Dr. Ronald Weissman is Chairman of the Software Group for Silicon Valley’s oldest angel group, the Band of Angels and is Chair of the Angel Capital Association, North American’s association of professional angel investors, where he also chairs the ACA’s education programs. He has been a VC and Angel investor for more than twenty-two years. He was a partner for seventeen years at global Private Equity and Venture Capital firm, Apax Global, focusing on US and cross-border technology investing and has been a member of the Band of Angels for the past 16 years. He is also an advisor to Neva, the venture fund of Intesa Sanpaolo, Italy’s largest bank and one of the top four banks in Europe. 

He has invested in or advised 70+ companies and has served on 40+ Boards of Directors. He was on the executive team at Verity (enterprise search) when the company won the award for large cap turnaround of the year (1999) and at NeXT, directing European Marketing and US Marketing strategy, reporting to Steve Jobs. 

He has lectured about venture and angel capital at the University of Santa Clara, Stanford, Berkeley, the American University of Armenia, and the Deggendorf Institute of Technology (Germany), where he has held the rank of Adjunct Professor. He is a frequent conference keynote speaker on angel and venture capital trends. He has promoted private capital-funded innovation ecosystems in New Zealand, Italy, Hong Kong, Armenia, Georgia, Germany, Israel, Ukraine, Chile, Australia, and the US White House. He was one of three US angels profiled in The American Angel (2017).  

His investment focus is on analytics and artificial intelligence applied to business vertical markets and he has mentored hundreds of startups around the world. He is also the author of the Angel Capital Association’s courses on Boards of Directors and on Managing and Mitigating Startup Investment Risk. He was the 2022 recipient of Keiretsu Forum Northwest’s (one of America’s largest angel groups) Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to private capital investing best practices in the US and worldwide. 

He is also the author of two books and many monographs on the Italian Renaissance and served on the faculties of the University of Maryland and Brown University.  He received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in History and Quantitative Anthropology and was a US State Department Fulbright Scholar (Italy.)  

He lives in California and splits his time between Menlo Park and San Francisco.  


For additional information, contact Eva Doss at or Varun Sadana at





A Special Thanks to Our Sponsors:

IdeaFest 2023 Sponsors