Soy-based denture adhesive, wound-care startups claim top prizes at Purdue elevator pitch competition

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A soy-based denture adhesive developer and a wound-care startup delivered the top pitches Friday (April 8), claiming $1,000 each during the fifth annual Purdue University Elevator Pitch Competition.

Ankit Gupta at Purdue Elevator Pitch Competition

Ankit Gupta, at left, delivers his award-winning pitch to acting venture capitalist Mike Cassidy about Dentural, which is developing an environmentally friendly biodegradable denture adhesive. Gupta was the top pitcher, winning $1,000 among the 20 participants in the undergraduate student division at the fifth annual Purdue Elevator Pitch Competition in Discovery Park. (Purdue University photo/Katy Prelock)

Ankit Gupta won the undergraduate student category for his two-minute pitch about Dentural, which is developing an environmentally friendly biodegradable denture adhesive.

Sean Connell took top honors for his pitch about Medtric Biotech’s bandage that both heals a wound and fights off infection in the category for Purdue graduate students, staff, faculty, alumni and those affiliated with the Purdue Research Parks.

“The pitches on these impressive business ideas from students, faculty members and others affiliated with Purdue gets better and better every year, making the judges’ decisions extremely difficult,” said Jeanette Greener, coordinator for Purdue’s Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program. “The future looks bright for the Indiana economy based on the Purdue innovation, creativity and communication skills that we saw during this competition.”

Tony Coiro finished second in the undergraduate division, receiving $500 for his pitch on the electric-powered motorcycle he is developing through his business venture EVolution. He also won the $500 prize for most entertaining pitch in the undergraduate division.

Andrew Linfoot grabbed the $250 third prize for his pitch about Kyk Energy, a powdered energy drink that comes in lightweight packets and mixes with any liquid.

In the open division, Matt Martin received the $500 second-place prize for Sorian, a wind turbine optimization technology. John Paderi of Glytrix, which has developed a platform technology for tissue healing and regeneration that also minimizes scarring, received $250 for third place.

Most entertaining in the open division was Jeremy Shroeder, who won $500 for his pitch on CarLife, a consumer-friendly auto repair membership business that targets women owners.

The contest, held in Discovery Park’s Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, is organized by Purdue’s Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program. Lead sponsors were Otis Elevator Co. and Bingham McHale LLP, a law firm with offices in Indianapolis, Jasper and Vincennes. Otis Elevator marked its fifth year of support for the competition.

Sean Connell at Purdue Elevator Pitch Competition

Sean Connell discusses his innovative idea for Medtric Biotech's bandage that both heals a wound and fights off infection in the open division of the fifth annual Purdue Elevator Pitch Competition. He received $1,000 for the winning pitch in the category that drew 14 competitors. (Purdue University photo/Katy Prelock)

Nineteen undergraduate students competed in the undergraduate category, and 14 participated in the open division, said Nathalie Duval-Couetil, director of Purdue’s entrepreneurship and innovation program and associate director of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship. All participants received T-shirts for competing.

The annual contest, themed “Give Us Your Best Shot” this year, gave each participant two minutes to describe a business venture to judges, highlighting their product or service, their competitive advantage, the market and its size, and plans to make the business profitable. Two minutes were allotted for follow-up questions from the judges.

Posing as venture capitalists and interacting with participants were Dave Kitchell, a Purdue graduate, columnist and teacher who has won 60 state and national journalism awards; and Mike Cassidy, an instructor for the Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program and a Purdue graduate who launched Fortress Strategy Group in 2007.

Judges were John Daniluck, a partner at Bingham McHale; Ben Wehner, new equipment account manager for Otis Elevator; Libby Hart-Wells, assistant vice president and director for the Office of Technology Commercialization at the Purdue Research Foundation; Oscar Moralez, managing director and co-founder of StepStone Business Partners; Michael Cloran, partner at venture development firm Developertown; and former elevator pitch winner Rush Bartlett, a Purdue doctoral student in biomedical engineering and co-founder of biomedical device company LyoGo.

Alumnus Mac McDaniel, one of first students to complete Purdue’s certificate in entrepreneurship program and a previous elevator pitch event participant, served as master of ceremonies. He is co-founder of Inleva Group LLC where he serves as a software consultant and is currently obtaining a JD/MBA at Indiana University.

The Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program has enrolled more than 2,800 undergraduate students since it began in 2005. Similar to a minor, students complete a series of five courses or experiential learning programs to earn the certificate.

Housed in Discovery Park’s Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship and led by the Office of the Provost, the program is available to Purdue undergraduate students in all majors. Its purpose is to make entrepreneurship an accessible career option by providing students with the skills and knowledge required to launch new business ventures.

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