The Society of Entrepreneurs and Epicenter holds a pitch competition called The Next Big Thing where local business start-ups and scale-ups compete for the chance to win $10,000. Held in the Methodist Presentation Theatre at University of Memphis’ FedEx Institute of Technology, these up and coming businessmen and women make elevator pitches before a panel of judges comprised of local business leaders and seasoned entrepreneurs. Yesterday, I was yet again honored with the opportunity to be one of these judges.
I have been a judge for “The Next Big Thing” for the past 3 years, and this year’s group of companies were by far the impressive that I have ever seen participate in the event.
Jay Myers and John Wilcox, Founder and CEO of Diatech at "The Next Big Thing."
One of the highlights was City Tasting Box, which connects local food makers to new customers and foodies in their city by delivering thoughtfully curated food boxes to the marketplace. A pretty cool and innovative concept!
Quite a few other participates caught my attention this year, including FindYa, which is the world's smallest, all-encompassing system to monitor the environment of your loved ones via a GPS tracker and mobile app. Noremac also interested me, and they help rights holders generate income from their copyright through music distribution & rights management services.
Another company I saw huge potential in was Weigh Up. They provide hardware that tracks liquor pours in real-time and software that reconciles every liquor pour with POS transaction data. In the Q&A session, I told the CEO that his product should be featured on the hit TV Show “Bar Rescue.” It is a natural fit!
Youdle, which aggregates the data of shoppers, small businesses, brands and retailers to predict location and availability of merchandise in real time, was the last company to present at the pitch competition.
The winner, however, of this year’s competition was DiaTech. DiaTech is a company that is developing SmartFusion: an infusion monitoring software that improves the efficacy and safety of ambulatory medication pumps. I am excited about the potential of this company and many of my fellow judges agreed with me. In fact, my enthusiasm about this company’s potential landed John Wilcox, Founder and CEO of DiaTech, a plug in my new book in the chapter about mentoring. This win was well deserved recognition for both John Wilcox and his team. As a long-term supporter of DiaTech, I have to admit I was particularly excited with the outcome.
John Wilcox, Founder and CEO of Diatech, presenting at "The Next Big Thing."
All of the participating companies were winners because they got the chance to present their company story in front of some of the most successful and influential businessmen and entrepreneurs in the area. Although they did not receive the $10,000 prize, simply presenting could very well lead to some future funding and investment opportunities. It wonderful and informative way to spend an afternoon, and I predict a bright future for all the companies that participated in “The Next Big Thing.”