SOUTHERN UTAH TECH COMPANIES SHARE $40,000 IN CASH AND SERVICE WINNINGS
- Fledgling companies create solutions for business and consumer problems -
ST GEORGE, May 11, 2012 -Brandon and Travis Gates, owners of DuctWizard, a St. George software application allowing HVAC companies to conveniently order custom ductwork over the internet, walked away as Grand Prize winners of the Southern Utah Concept to Company contest. The Gates brothers won $10,000 for their efforts along with another $10,000 in services from local companies.
Runners up companies each winning $5000 in cash and $5000 in services were John Lee, Springdale, with his adjustable Jar holder and opener; and Jeff Shepherd, Enoch, who markets The Scent Master 3500, a commercial and home aroma diffusion system.
T. Craig Bott of Grow Utah Ventures who hosted the event said the 2012 Southern Utah contest attracted over 50 applicants with a variety of business ideas. From the 50, eight finalists were selected to present their ideas in front of a panel of industry experts and successful entrepreneurs in a closed door session.
The final three winners each presented at a Grow Utah Ventures CrowdPitch, where a public audience looked in as an investor panel evaluated and commented on the fledgling companies. Audience members were also invited to invest “Crowd cash” in their favorite company. Scent Master was the audience choice winner.
Jill Elliss, of USTAR and SEED Dixie who cohosts the contest and event said the variety of tech related applicants was striking. “Each tells a very compelling story, but each still has significant obstacles to overcome before they reach their dream,” Elliss said.
Brandon Gates of DuctWizard told the judges his idea was over five years I the making. The Gates brothers own an HVAC company in St. George, and the software is a solution to some of the problems they’ve seen in the industry. Now with most of the programming complete, the site will be officially launched midsummer. “By recruiting and setting up DuctWizard franchisees across the nation, quality custom ductwork can be available to everyone,” Gates said.
John Lee, a retired mechanical engineer living in Springdale responded when his wife couldn’t open a jar of their home made grape juice. With 60 million baby boomers on the horizon, Lee believes his patent pending adjustable jar opening system will be a big seller on QVC and in big box stores. The audience members crowding around his prototype after the event seemed to agree.
Scent Master’s sales director Jeff Shepherd won the audience as his device diffused the scent of fir trees across the room. “Businesses stink,” he pointed out, but many businesses can use scent as an appealing branding device. Scent Master, an existing company with some market share in the industry, sees the new diffuser as an opportunity to capture more of the commercial market.
Elliss pointed out that the companies donating services, Durham Jones and Pinegar Law, Savage Esplin and Radmall accounting and OveractDev technology partners each had a part to play in addition to the cash awards donated by a local business person who wishes to remain anonymous. The southern Utah USTAR and Small Business Development Center teams will coach and monitor the fledgling companies’ progress as milestones are met.
The Concept to Company competitions are Utah’s premier ongoing innovation contests. They are held in various regions across the state with each contest focusing on a different industry. Winning entrepreneurs receive significant cash awards as well as mentoring services from leading professional service partners. To date, the “Concept to Company” contests have distributed more than $540,000 in cash and services and have helped launch over 80 companies. Grow Utah Ventures with the help of Zions Bank has hosted over 15 contests throughout the state
About Grow Utah Ventures
Grow Utah Ventures, is a privately funded non-profit organization dedicated to accelerate the creation of innovative, entrepreneur-led, high-growth businesses that will strengthen and expand the future growth of Utah’s economy.
The vision of Grow Utah Ventures is to create a robust entrepreneurial eco-system in Utah that fosters entrepreneurial talent, drives innovation to solve market needs, aligns community resources and support, and ensures funding for products, entrepreneurs and businesses of promise.
Comprised of a team of successful and experienced entrepreneurs, business leaders and private investors, Grow Utah Ventures accomplishes its mission by leading initiatives that fill critical gaps needed for economic and entrepreneurial expansion and encourage others to do the same. As such, Grow Utah Ventures serve as a catalyst to form new partnerships, develop innovative solutions, and capture breaking opportunities that will solve our economic issues today and ensure a sound foundation for our future economy.
About Zions Bank
Zions Bank is Utah’s oldest financial institution, and is the only local bank with statewide distribution of branches, operating 114 full-service branches throughout Utah. Zions Bank also operates 24 full-service branches in Idaho, and nearly 200 ATMs throughout Utah and Idaho. In addition to a wide range of traditional banking services, Zions offers a comprehensive array of investment and mortgage services, and has a network of loan origination offices for small businesses nationwide. The company is also a leader in providing electronic banking services, including electronic municipal bond trading. Founded in 1873, Zions has been serving the communities of Utah for more than 135 years. Additional information is available at www.zionsbank.com.
The Utah Science Technology and Research initiative (USTAR) is a long-term, state-funded investment to strengthen Utah’s “knowledge economy” and generate high-paying jobs. Funded in March 2006 by the State Legislature, USTAR is based on three program areas. The first area involves funding for strategic investments at the University of Utah and Utah State University to recruit world-class researchers. The second area is to build state-of-the-art interdisciplinary facilities at these institutions for the innovation teams. The third program area involves teams that work with companies and entrepreneurs across the State to promote science, innovation, and commercialization activities. For more information, go to www.innovationutah.com or follow http://twitter.com/Innovationutah.
About SEED Dixie
Through an initiative sponsored by the Washington County Economic Development Council, the SEED Dixie project has established a strategic direction for the Washington county area and surrounding region for fostering entrepreneurial development and the creation of growth and high growth businesses. The overall objective is to strengthen the regional economy by creating a diversified economy.