The 2017 UPS Export Challenge brought the best and brightest in startup innovation to the forefront of the conversation. Judges surveyed 80 teams and, eventually, narrowed them down to the final 10, giving them a platform to present their startups to the senior management of UPS at the Cove @ UCI. Each finalist had five minutes to pitch, followed by a few questions from the judges. After the pitches, the judges gathered to decide the night’s winners, who received up to $10,000 in export shipping credits in each respective district. The first place winner will also participate at the grand finale Pitch-Off event.
Event moderator Brian MacMahon of Expert Dojo and self-described “lover of startups,” welcomed everyone to the event. With over 30 years of startup experience working in 35 different countries, his passion for entrepreneurship runs deep. “The privilege of being a startup, an entrepreneur, is beyond any other in the field of creativity,” MacMahon said. “Because you get to actually be the person who makes the difference.” He encouraged those in the audience with relevant resources to network with startups and help make dreams come true.
The judges consisted of UPS management, software engineers, heads of innovation, and venture attorneys who flew in from all over the country to attend, including: Rosemary Turner, president of UPS in Northern California; Tom Cuce, president of UPS in Southern California; Joe Braham, president of UPS Northwest; and David Ochi, executive director of the UCI ANTrepreneur Center.
Cuce thanked the UPS affiliate members for attending, including the judges and special guest Lisa LaFave, UPS president of domestic sales. He also thanked UCI Applied Innovation for hosting the event and congratulated the finalists, stating, “We really want a relaxed environment, we want you guys to have fun. We want you to really give it your best shot. It is a competition, but for everyone to get to the position you’re in tonight took a lot of work and some amazing accomplishments.”
The ten finalists included:
- BioSkin – designs and manufactures premium bracing and high-performance apparel that helps people move better, live with less pain, and push themselves harder.
- Nessa Brush Spa – a patent pending fully automated, personal makeup brush cleaning system.
- Move2play – a patented hardware platform that responds to unique user interactions to counter consumer electronics that promote static and antisocial behavior in kids.
- Sun Genomics – a microbiome health company that brings real consumer solutions to market based off the last 2000 years of gut science with the world’s first precision probiotic.
- Inspero Medical – addresses major problems of multiple IV medications including medication errors and bloodstream infections using SPAID, a simple fluid therapy device that prevents contamination of the patient’s catheter and bloodstream.
- Wynd Technologies – helps people stay aware of the air quality around them, and provides the means to clean it up, using several patented technologies: a wearable air quality monitor, a powerful personal air purifier, and a comprehensive mobile app that displays deep insights about the environment.
- Hoverboard Technologies – hoverboard design that transports the future of personal mobility to the present using minimalistic, efficient, and intuitive engineering to respond to subtle shifts in body weight.
- Senstone – helps business professionals save at least one hour per day by increasing productivity with a connected voice assistant and AI software platform that uses voice to capture and organize ideas, notes and messages.
- SolarGaps – engineered innovative solar blind technology that automatically tracks the sun, generates green energy for your home, and can reduce your energy bill by 70%.
- Antsle – user-friendly turnkey solution to host apps and data using an at-home server with software that enables more than 100 virtual servers to run on a single device.
The winners of the night included: Nessa Brush Spa, honorable mention; SolarGaps, third place – $1,000 in export shipping credits; Move2play, second place – $2,500 in export shipping credits; and Wynd Technologies, first place – $10,000 in export shipping credits, plus additional help with email advertising. Wynd will move on to the next round to compete against two finalists from different districts in a National Pitch-Off event for cash prizes (first place – $25,000, second place – $15,000, and third place – $10,000).
The 2017 UPS X-Port Challenge was the third of its kind and is a growing movement throughout the company’s 17 domestic districts, 13 of which have participated in previous challenges. “The road to get here is a prize in itself,” Cuce said. “This started out with 80 entrants, and they went through three processes to move to the next round. That 80 went to 40 and that 40 finally went down to the final ten. So, regardless if you were in the top four or not, being in the top ten is a pretty amazing accomplishment and you all deserve a hand for that.”