The Company Lab (CO.LAB) announced three emerging companies as the winners of its fifth annual ‘Will This Float?’ business pitch competition Tuesday evening. Innovasan Corporation took the grand prize for Best Idea Overall, winning $1,000 in cash, as well as 32 hours of free business services and a one-year mobile marketing contract.
The winner of the award for Best Outdoor/Sustainability Idea was Chattanooga Sports Leagues, and the recipient of the Best General Business Idea award was The Baby Flat. Both companies took home $250 in cash and packages of 25-30 hours of free business services.
Based in Knoxville, Innovasan Corporation is the creator of Gauntlet Disinfection System, a fluid waste technology treatment platform designed to reduce global water pollution. The technology treats fluid waste streams on site to create an effluent that is free of biologic and organic pollutants, making it safe for discharge into the environment or municipal sewer systems.
"Winning ‘Will This Float’ provides validation that the problem we're trying to solve truly has no borders,” said Jeff Hubrig Jr., manager of business development for Innovasan Corporation. “Water is the most precious resource we have as humans, and we have a responsibility and opportunity to improve the accessibility of clean water for people around the world."
Mike Bradshaw, executive director of CO.LAB, congratulated the company for transitioning into commercialization after spending years in an R&D lab developing its technology.
“The research project could have chosen a number of ways to go to market with its first product,” said Mr. Bradshaw. “Most inventors in their position would seek large licensing deals or an outright acquisition by a major player in the medical device industry. Instead, the founders decided to introduce their first-ever product at Will This Float. I hope their coming success in the marketplace will serve as a model for other R&D-driven startups to earn their first revenue coming from founder-led sales.”
Will This Float? 2014 took place from 6—9 p.m. on the fourth floor of the Chattanooga Public Library. Approximately 350 people attended the event, which featured business pitches from 10 aspiring entrepreneurs from across east Tennessee. Of those participants, seven presented ideas focused on the outdoors and sustainability – the theme of Will This Float? 2014 – and three pitched general business ideas. A panel of five judges selected the winners, assessing candidates according to their pitches and a set of fiveFLOAT criteria.
About the 2014 Winners
Chattanooga Sports Leagues – Best Outdoor/Sustainability Idea
Chattanooga Sports Leagues plans events for adults who want to combine socializing with athletic activities, which may range from kickball and soccer leagues to flag football, basketball, softball, cornhole and even bubble soccer. The goal is to help Chattanoogans connect with one another and to help everyone have fun. The games will take place at venues like Warner Park, which helps people from throughout the city take better advantage of the amazing public spaces Chattanooga offers. After games conclude, players often continue to socialize at places like coffee shops and bars, helping expand new social networks and support other local businesses.
Prizes awarded: $250 cash, 10 hours of legal consultation from Baker Donelson, 10 hours of accounting consultation from Henderson, Hutcherson & McCullough and 10 hours of sustainability consultation from green|spaces.
The Baby Flat – Best General Business Idea
The Baby Flat is an easy-to-use surface that fits into any vehicle to make it easy for caregivers to change a baby’s diaper. The flat, cleanable surface is ergonomic for both the adult and the child, providing a safe, private place to clean up little ones while out and about. The Baby Flat is ideally suited for those who are traveling and those who find themselves at public venues without changing stations.
Prizes awarded: $250 cash, five hours of legal consultation from Huisman Law Firm, 10 hours of accounting consultation from Henderson, Hutcherson & McCullough and 10 hours of sustainability training from green|spaces.
Innovasan Corporation – Best Idea Overall
Innovasan Corporation is the creator of Gauntlet Disinfection System, a fluid waste technology treatment platform designed to reduce global water pollution. The technology treats fluid waste streams on site to create an effluent that is free of biologic and organic pollutants, making it safe for discharge into the environment or municipal sewer systems.
Prizes awarded: $1,000 cash, 12 hours of legal consultation from Chambliss Startup Group, 10 hours of accounting consultation from Henderson, Hutcherson & McCullough, 10 hours of sustainability training from green|spaces and one year of mobile marketing services from Click Click Boom.
About the 2014 Participants
MayFly Coffee – A QuickBrew system for on-the-go coffee for hiking, camping, fishing and biking that’s ultra light at just 14 grams, perfect for backpacking and travel
RamRock Building Systems – Turns construction and industry waste that would otherwise end up in the landfill into an eco-friendly building material
Sleep in a Tree* – The first ever Living Building Challenge certified tree houses, located in an old-growth forest, built from salvaged materials, all a short drive from downtown Chattanooga (*This company pitched but did not compete for prizes.)
Wind River Custom Homes – Stationary, towable tiny homes custom-built from sustainable building materials, enabling an affordable, eco-friendly lifestyle
Your Outdoor Family – A series of printed guidebooks on topics like waterfall wonder, fun on the water, science discovery and off-the-beaten path adventures that would be sold throughout the Southeast
General Business Finalists
Amplify – A monthly fitness experience that allows members to take advantage of a wide variety of fitness options, from traditional gyms, CrossFit boxes, barre and yoga studios, as well as dance classes, trampoline parks, tennis clubs and more, keeping people motivated and making exercise fun
Willow Games – Applies gameification principles to nonprofit fundraising, in which programmers can monetize their games, nonprofits can get donations and players can win cash prizes