The five finalists in the Innovate McKinney Local Startup Competition pitched their business to a panel of judges at the event's grand finale on Tuesday, June 28 at the Historic McKinney Cotton Mill. The competition, hosted by the McKinney Chamber of Commerce and The WERX Foundation, was created to inspire local innovation, entrepreneurship, and assist the businesses of our future.
“We recognize that entrepreneurial spirit is the backbone of our economy,” said Lisa Hermes, President of the McKinney Chamber of Commerce. “It is innovative creativity that produces ideas that transform our world and leads to businesses that help our economy thrive. We were excited to be able to foster and celebrate that through this event.”
The grand prize of $3500 was awarded by First United Bank to Gautam Bhargava, Co-founder, CEO of Peeyr, a platform that connects vetted high school tutors with their peers for in-person, one-on-one tutoring and mentoring sessions. Peeyr strives to keep the cost of tutoring affordable by creating a win-win situation where capable students are able to make a little extra income teaching their peers and allowing students to take advantage of the lower cost. Peeyr.com allows students to select a peer tutor based on reviews and academic information then choose a public location and schedule a one-time or recurring session for just $25 an hour.
Second place went to Balanced Media / Technologies, a company that will forever change the way people play and learn about the inner workings of the human body. The team is focused on building entertainment products through gaming which enlighten, motivate and inspire a new global health-conscious generation, while empowering industry and medical researchers with revolutionary new methods of utilizing crowd-sourcing to analyze scientific data to accelerate research and find cures and treatments for diseases.
Third place was taken by Learnatronics, a 2016 start-up company dedicated to improving electronics education for today's society. They sell low-cost, educational electronics kits geared towards K-12 and introductory college-level schools. These kits teach the basics of electronics and design principles in an easy to understand manner that requires no previous experience.
This was the first year the Chamber and The Werx Foundation hosted this event. There were 21 initial applicants that were assessed by a first round of judges. Five finalists were identified and given the opportunity to pitch their ideas at a live event.
The Judges for the evening who had the difficult task of evaluating the five finalist and awarding a cash prize included John Rattan, The Body Shop Collision Repair; Mark Cottam, Adelphoi Labs and The WERX Board; Max Whitemeyer, Genesis Investments; State Representative Scott Sanford; Bob Roeder, Abernathy, Roeder, Boyd & Hullett, PC; Chad Walker, McKinney Economic Development Corporation; and Alan McDonald, First United Bank.
The event was supported through many sponsors including the Prize Sponsor, First United Bank; Innovation Sponsor, AT&T; Startup Sponsor, Raytheon and Encore Wire; and Food Sponsor, McKinney Economic Development Corporation. Booth Sponsors included Collin College, The Body Shop Collision Repair, Networking University, Abernathy, Roeder, Boyd & Hullett, Chambergate Software, American Receivable, Brix Holdings, TUPPS, and Printed Threads.
Balanced Media Technologies