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GlucaGo, Currently Cultured win Purdue elevator pitch competition

April 6, 2010

A medical device concept for diabetics and an Internet-based global etiquette and information service took top honors Friday (April 2) at the fourth annual Purdue University Elevator Pitch Competition in Discovery Park.

GlucaGo LLC's Rush Bartlett won the open division and the $1,000 top prize for his two-minute pitch about developing an emergency kit that automatically mixes and injects medication for diabetics. Preston Holb was first, also capturing $1,000 for his Currently Cultured business concept in the undergraduate student division.

Tying for second in the open division were Sean Connell of Biognostic LLC, a developer of a biosensor for quickly detecting upper respiratory infections, and Rich Mussman, whose West Lafayette company Nano-Rad LLC is developing an innovative breast cancer radiation therapy process. Each won $375 for their pitches.

Ryan Pickens, with his retractable bicycle-seat cover idea Turtle Brand, received the $500 second prize in the undergraduate student category. Monica Harvey was third, winning $250 for her pitch about the product, Matt & Monica, which holds socks together in the laundry.

"Every year the quality and performance level gets better, and this year was another winner for the participants in the undergraduate and open divisions," said Nathalie Duval-Couetil, director of Purdue's certificate program and associate director of the Burton Morgan Center. "All the pitches were impressive, informative, persuasive and entertaining. In a competitive atmosphere that was collegial and energetic, Purdue was able to highlight the importance of communication and showcase the wide range of innovation at the university."

Sixteen students participated in the undergraduate student category of the competition, themed "Stand Up, Stand Out, Go Up." Nine participants competed in the division open to faculty members, graduate students and entrepreneurs from Purdue Research Park companies.

The annual contest, organized by Purdue's Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program, gives each participant two minutes to describe a business venture to a panel of judges. Three minutes were allotted for follow-up questions from the judges.

Lead sponsors were Otis Elevator Co., law firm Bose McKinney & Evans LLP, and Passageways LLC. Otis Elevator and Bose McKinney & Evans marked their fourth year of support for the competition.

Judges were Christopher Beltran, vice president of product development and research at Passageways LLC; Maria Marshall, associate professor of agricultural economics at Purdue; Stephen Kempf, Indianapolis branch manager for Otis Elevator; Gail Koehler, executive vice president for Purdue Employees Federal Credit Union; and Stephen Rost of Bose McKinney & Evans.

Assisting in the pitches were Dave Kitchell, an award-winning journalist who has taught journalism at Purdue and Ball State University, and Mike Cassidy, owner of consulting firm Fortress Strategy Group and an instructor in the Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program.

The Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program, which is housed in Discovery Park's Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, is available to Purdue undergraduate students in all majors. Its purpose is to make entrepreneurship an accessible career option by providing students with the skills and knowledge required to launch new business ventures. 

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