The 2016 Vogt Awards wrapped up with a Demo Day at the Frazier History Museum. The six companies that went through the program were chosen out of a field of 27 applicants. They received $25,000 and 12 weeks of intensive mentorship from leaders in the startup community.
Community Foundation of Louisville CEO Susan Barry kicked off the event, by saying, “I want to sometime be able to say that Louisville is a city built by philanthropy.”
CFL and GLI’s EnterpriseCorp are partners in the program, which was founded in 1999 through the Vogt Invention and Innovation Fund, a fund established by the inventor and philanthropist Henry Vogt Heuser. Heuser’s son, Henry Jr., was in the audience.
Not only are the awards funded by philanthropy, the program is largely run by volunteers, something Greg Langdon, selection committee chairman, pointed out. More than a dozen mentors participated in the program, some of whom volunteered every week.
EnterpriseCorp administers the program and Langdon called out the work that Amelia Gandara did on updating the format of the Vogt Awards program before she left EnterpriseCorp for GE in Chicago.
Lisa Bajorinas, executive director of EnterpriseCorp, said the program placed an emphasis on teaching entrepreneurs to “market and sell.” Mentoring efforts weighed heavily on revenue generation.
The six Vogt Award winners
Breath Diagnostics: This is CEO Rick Rummel’s fourth medical startup. The company is testing the OneBreath lung cancer test, which is a “low-cost, accurate test that detected 94 percent of cancers,” according to Breath Diagnostics. The test involves breathing into a special bag that tests for four cancer-specific markers. It can be administered by a doctor or at a clinic and is noninvasive.
Collabra Innovations: CEO Ron Karroll’s Collabra has been around in some iteration or another for about four years. It offers a software platform that was once intended as a tool to help music teachers monitor their students’ practice sessions. Recently, Karroll has been exploring other markets, including education, speech therapy and sales training.
Curio: The current Kentucky Teacher of the Year is Ashley Lamb-Sinclair, CEO and founder of Curio, a Pinterest-type platform for professional development and lesson planning for teachers. According to Lamb-Sinclair, schools spend $58 billion annual on professional development for teachers, but most are cookie-cutter and not personalized toward the teacher or even the school. This sharing platform allows teachers to search for lesson plans and professional development sources that best serve them.
G3 Tri-Tech: This company is focusing on gear for the triathlete community. Its first product is the Infinite Swim, a swim training aid that will fit in the bottom of a carry-on. CEO Phil Gambrell, a Marine Corps veteran, travels and trains for triathlons all over the country. He said that training in an “itty bitty hotel pool” for the 2.4 mile swim meant around 300 turns in the pool. This does not accurately represent open water swims. The Infinite Swim is like a treadmill for the pool.
MailHaven: CEO Kela Ivonye said that 27 million people a year report packages that have been stolen from their porches. MailHaven is manufacturing safe, smart mailboxes here in Louisville and has created an app to track packages across all couriers. Expect to see a Kickstarter from Mailhaven in August 2017.
RMC Solutions: CEO Dorothy Pitt’s company has created several solutions to clean residual concrete out of the drums of concrete trucks. Its Cyclone takes less than three minutes and only 60 gallons of water to go through its cycle. Previous water-based tech for daily cleaning used 200-400 gallons of water.