This year’s SXSW event saw a diverse group of 24 innovative startups from 15 states and 4 countries and led by 12 female, 10 minority, and 2 veteran founders. These startups battled it out, fast-pitching during the kickoff Rooftop Pitch & BBQ lunch to over 20 investor judges, followed by the Top 5 pitching during Happy Hour to a smaller panel of judges composed of Kimberly Bryant (Black Girls Code), Lolita Taub (Backstage Capital), Todd Klein (Revolution), Jesse Middleton (Flybridge), and Carol Lynch (Sandoz) — all in hopes of winning one of two fast-track spots to the semifinals at the 7th Annual Startup of the Year competition to take place in Memphis this fall.
After an invigorating, entertaining day and evening of pitches that took on topics ranging from AR-powered teledermatology to in-home dance instruction, only one; however, was able to punch their ticket to the semifinals:
The Boulder, Colorado startup was founded by Amy Beckley, a PhD in Pharmacology and expert in hormone signaling, after she realized her three-year long trouble with conception was due to low progesterone levels and invented a test that allows women to track their own progesterone levels in five minutes, at home.
“Everything about the event was so amazing,” Beckley cheered. “But my favorite part was how Startup of the Year gave us the opportunity to speak with many past and currently infertile couples. They came by our booth to learn more about Proov and thank us for the important work we were doing. Being fast-tracked to the main event in the fall is incredible because we get to share our story and mission to a larger audience.”
Aiming to revolutionize long-acting drug delivery, the Memphis, Tennessee company specializes in the research, development, and commercialization of long-term treatments via biodegradable implant medical devices, making invasive therapies and strict pill regimens a thing of the past.
"We are very honored to have had the opportunity to present Hera Health Solutions and our drug delivery technology in front of such a large network of investors and innovators,” said CEO and Founder Idicula Mathew. “Events like these really help bring together and showcase our company's progress in front of the global startup community."
MEET THE TOP 5
Rounding out the Top 5 Startup Night SXSW finalists was Medsaf (Nigeria), which has developed medication supply chain management tools and tracking and tracing technology to tackle the fake and substandard drug problem in Africa; Easy Expunctions (San Antonio, Texas) which is an online platform that uses data as a comprehensive and accurate criminal history information database; and Gravy (Alexandria, Virginia), which is an easy-to-use app lets hospitality pros and employers create a profile to find and transact with one another.
On top of the fast-track opportunity to the 7th Annual Startup of the Year Summit in Memphis, Proov was awarded a $1,000 cash prize from LaunchKC and will be featured in an episode of the Startup of the Year Podcast. Additionally, the Top 3 (Proov, HeraHealth, and Medsaf) earned a trip to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit — a gathering of entrepreneurs, innovators, investors, and policy makers from around the world taking place in The Hague on June 4-5 of this year.
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