April 21, 2023

IdeaFest 2023 WinnersThe Launch Place received 79 applications for its 8th IdeaFest Pitch Competition from various start-up companies located in the US and abroad. The top competitors took the stage to present their innovative business ideas at 2 Witches Winery and Brewing Company in Danville, VA today. 

The competition kicked off at 1:00pm, with a keynote from Patrick Gouhin, CAE, CEO of Angel Capital Association. Mr. Gouhin is presently serving in his fourth year as the CEO of the Angel Capital Association. ACA is a professional society for accredited angel investors, North America's most prolific early-stage investment class. ACA represents 15,000+ member accredited angel investors, 250 angel groups, accredited platforms and family offices and more than 30,000 entrepreneurial companies that are in ACA member investment portfolios. Before joining ACA, Mr. Gouhin spent 12 years as the Executive Director and CEO of the International Society of Automation (ISA) and then 15 years with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). During his tenure at ISA he provided leadership toward the creation of many new initiatives and companies. At AIAA, Mr. Gouhin served as the Chief Operating Officer whereby his leadership contributions resulted in significant revenue growth and the successful management of 300+ project teams through development and delivery of multiple products and services. 


Pat Gouin ideafest keynote

The winner of this year’s competition was Tromml, who was awarded a $5,000 cash prize. Tromml helps eCommerce resellers, specifically in the automotive aftermarket industry, optimize profitability through “real-cost” monitoring that points eCommerce managers to timely actionable insights. When using Tromml, resellers get order-line profitability assessments to quickly identify pricing errors, poor shipping estimates, and even the status of distributor return credits. When it is time to grow, Tromml will provide resellers strategic insights on their contribution margin while allowing them to see what items, suppliers, and channels are driving revenue. 

Second place and a $3,000 cash award went to Nanode Battery Technologies, Inc. Nanode Battery Technologies has developed a streamlined manufacturing process for battery anodes in a single step. Biosensys took home third place with a $2,000 cash prize. BioSensys’ mission is to bring medical technologies to realization to improve patient care in the area of vital sign monitoring. 

The Launch Place, located in the River District of Danville, assists with business formation, job creation and retention through its business consulting services and investment funding, while having a dual responsibility to recruit and retain entrepreneurs to the Dan River Region. The IdeaFest competition exposes The Launch Place’s services and funds to start-up companies that are ready to launch, or are seeking early stage capital. The Launch Place could potentially invest in the company from its Seed and Pre-Seed Funds that were established from a grant awarded by the Danville Region Foundation. 

IdeaFest 2023 Judges

IdeaFest Judges and Master of Ceremonies:

  • Judge: Jan L. Davis, Retired CEO, ShopperTrak RCT Corporation; Investor and Vice-Chair, Triangle Angel Partners; Board Vice-Chair, The Launch Place
  • Judge: Pat Gouhin, CAE, Angel Capital Association CEO
  • Judge: Mark Granville, Screening Chair, RTP Capital; Board Vice-Chair, The Launch Place Seed Fund
  • Judge: Robbie Hardy, Founder and Chair of xElle Ventures; Board Member, The Launch Place Seed Fund
  • Judge: Marty Kaszubowski, Technology Mentor, Innovation Commercialization Assistance Program (ICAP), Virginia Small Business Development Center Network, George Mason University
  • Master of Ceremonies: Mark Friedman, The Launch Place Seed Fund Portfolio Manager; President and Co-founder of RTP Capital Associates; CEO of Lakeview Business Advisory


IdeaFest 2023 Finalists 

  • Elysia Creative Biology - uses biotechnology to make agriculture on real farms sustainable.
  • Salem - an AI cyber analyst that investigates every alert, learns critical business context, and escalates relevant threats to a firm’s team.
  • BioSensys - is bringing medical technologies to realization to improve patient care in the area of vital sign monitoring.
  • Verenovo Energy - an AgTech company looking to capture organic waste to produce clean, sustainable energy and eco-friendly agricultural products.
  • Gemini III Technologies - government agencies "test drive" state-of-the-art technology, with pre-certified interoperability, resulting in faster deployment, less cost, and reduced risk.
  • Lithium Technologies, Inc. - is a company created to produce lithium hydroxide for battery production that facilitates electrification of our vehicles and energy storage.
  • ELDR End of Life Design - is an all-in-one platform/marketplace mobilizing the growing end of life planning profession to simplify, organize, and lead an overdue culture change.
  • Truth or Err - building a bridge to connect education, blockchain, web3 and incentive-based learning to greatly impact the world.
  • XStar Research LLC - provides software for design optimization and engineering simulation.
  • VENT - Verbally Erase Negative Thoughts, is a company that wants to bring more positivity to this negative world by giving people an outlet to voice their feelings.
  • Turnip - is a NIL Marketplace that enables ALL college students to make money while messaging friends.
  • Trova Commercial Vehicles, Inc. - provides zero emissions solutions to meet sustainable transport providers needs with asset recovery at lower costs, more payload, and shorter lead-times than a brand new vehicle.
  • Leantime - is the project management system for the non-project manager.
  • ExstoBio - is a comprehensive cannabinoid healthcare platform that is setting the standard of patient care through a science-based, data-driven approach.
  • Tromml - is a profit optimization tool for eCommerce sellers.
  • Nanode Battery Technologies Inc. - has developed a streamlined manufacturing process for battery anodes in a single step.
  • Sprocketz - is an AI mobile application company for manufacturing sites to help with equipment breakdowns elimination and solutions prediction.
  • NursesBnB - is solving the problems faced by traveling medical professionals.
  • Carbon Roof - will utilize bioengineered algae and partnerships with organizations with large geographical footprints across the U.S. to disrupt the Direct Air Capture carbon market.



A Special Thanks to Our Sponsors:

IdeaFest 2023 Sponsors