Open Coffee Feb. 17, 2014

Open Coffee Feb. 17, 2014

This morning’s Open Coffee featured a panel from this weekend’s Cardinal Challenge business plan competition:

  • Suzanne Bergmeister, faculty advisor for the UofL team Appro Therapeutics and organizer of the Cardinal Challenge
  • Will Morris, a member of the Appro Therapeutics team and an MBA candidate
  • Greg Langdon, a track judge for the Cardinal Challenge
  • Daniel Johnsen, former competitor and Fast Pitch judge

You can learn more about the teams that competed in the Cardinal Challenge, the judges, the prizes, and the competition itself here.

In a very “Lean”-focused entrepreneurial community, business plan competitions seem a bit behind the curve. But Bergmeister not only organizes the Cardinal Challenge and coaches business plan teams for global competition, she teaches classes on Lean Startups too.

“Before I started teaching at U of L, I thought business plans were a waste of time,” she said. But once she saw teams compete and realized the questions the judges asked forced teams to tweak their plans and presentation and actually gave really good feedback, she changed her mind. “It’s really preparing these students to start their own companies.”

Business plan competition season is generally the spring. The Super Bowl of competitions is the Venture Labs Investment Competition in Austin. Forty teams make it to the the big game through feeder competitions. In 2011, TNG Pharmaceuticals won it for U of L for the first time. Two weeks ago, TNG announced a $4.6 million Series A Preferred Stock financing.

This year the Entrepreneurial MBA program at U of L has five teams, and two have already qualified to go to Austin.

Daniel Johnsen’s team Tetra One Source made it to Austin in 2009 and came in third. Local teams Cuddle Clones and US Chia have also made it to Austin.

The Cardinal Challenge is one of the first competitions in the season. We are known for having good judges who ask great questions and give solid feedback. Lots of winners of Card Challenge have won Austin.

Langdon says the quality of MBA competition pitches blow away the ones investors get in the real world.

The top four teams in the Cardinal Challenge were (descriptions from the contest program):

NanDio, University of Notre Dame — Winner

NanDio has identified a novel technology that healthcare
practitioners can use to clinically test for early detection of
oral cancer during a normal exam via single platform and
lab-on-a-chip detection products. NanDio provides solutions for early disease detection during a patient’s visit with results in minutes.

A-76 Corrosion Inhibitors, Rice University

A-76 is a multi-purpose chemical blend that acts as a
corrosion inhibitor and lubricant. It was invented by Dr.
James Tour, who was named scientist of the year in 2013
by R&D magazine. A-76 prevents corrosion in aggressive
high salinity, high humidity environments on a wide range
of metals, which saves users both time and money through
reduced maintenance and down-time. A-76 products
include a “green” option that contains 0% volatile organic
compounds. Like similar products in this industry, A-76 is
protected via trade secret. Metals can be dipped or sprayed
with only a five-minute drying time needed.

Movellus Circuits, University of Michigan

Movellus Circuits offers a truly disruptive, patent-pending
clock generator technology for the microprocessor market.
Movellus clock generators are quicker to design, small, high performance, low power, more flexible and only one fifth of the cost of existing solutions. The initial Movellus product will target the system-on-chip market segment for a potential total addressable market of $1B. We are currently seeking seed funding for our first customer acquisition and additional prototyping. The Movellus team possesses the necessary technical, and management skills to bring this venture to success and will continually focus its efforts on growing the company while maximizing shareholder returns.

Local Libations, University of Texas

Local Libations is a craft-beer logistics company based in Austin, Texas. The company focuses on delivery of craft beer from the manufacturer (the brewery) to retailers (bars, restaurants, grocery stores, etc.). By providing this service, Local Libations allows brewers to focus on following their passion – brewing great beer. We also allow retailers more flexibility and convenience in how they order beer from small, local breweries.

The eight teams not selected for the finals participated in the Fast Pitch competition, where one member of each team presented its concept to the judges in 60 seconds without visual aids or follow-up Q&A. Will Morris from the U of L team Appro Therapeutics won.

Appro Therapeutics presents Asserta-B, a novel cancer
therapeutic, along with a companion biomarker to predict
patient response, with demonstrated effectiveness in
destroying SOX9 overexpressing cancer cells. SOX9 is
overexpressed in up to 50% of colon, lung, prostate, and
breast cancers, as well as 12-25% of all cancer types. Our
fully patented therapeutic, with its unique mechanisms of
action and companion biomarker, could provide treatment
for a significant portion of the 12.5M individuals diagnosed with cancer each year. Setting sight on a substantial sector of this $47.7B market, Appro Therapeutics strives to provide individualized treatment and transformational results.


• Velocity’s one year anniversary party. Feb. 20. 5 p.m.

Applications are open for Venture Sharks competition

• Launch It applications due Feb. 19.

• IUS Speaker Series: Jeff Hoffman, founder of Feb. 19, 7 p.m. Ogle Center.

• Startup Weekend Louisville is Feb. 28 – March 2

• Feb. 28 at El Camino, “Shark Tank” viewing party featuring Kentucky native Lori Cheek’s company Cheek’d

Open Coffee Louisville
8 a.m. Mondays
iHub, 204 S. Floyd Street, Louisville, KY 40202
Free parking: in the Nucleus lot between Preston & Floyd.
Twitter: @startupLou #opencoffeelou

Thank you as always to Heine Brothers for providing the coffee.