One of my favorite pastimes is scanning the projects on Kickstarter or IndiGogo, getting a taste for the next wave of disruptive technologies designed to revolutionize my morning latte, backpacking omelets or personal posture. Perhaps that’s why attending last week’s Seattle Venture Partners' annual Fast Pitch Finals at McCaw Hall felt to me like shopping for the next companies that will revolutionize our community.
Contestants pitch their ideas — live, on-stage before a panel of judges — in hopes of landing a piece of the $250,000 in grant and investments on the table.
Past winners — such as Community Sourced Capital with its zero interest community-sourced business loans, and Scope 5’s web-based software for helping organizations improve sustainability efforts — are actually changing the way Northwesterners interact with, and improve, our neighborhoods.
This year's SVP Fast Pitch panel, made up of business and non-profit leaders such as Mona Locke, Tony Mestres, Martha Choe and Ana Mari Cauce, had the difficult task of selecting the best ideas based on their "societal impact, innovation, sustainability, leadership team, and clarity of concept." With 14 start-ups and 18 awards, you might expect this to be a game where everyone wins. However, some crowd and judge favorites (Pay It Forward, Evrnu, Dyslexi-type) took home awards in multiple categories. You can check out the complete list of 2014 Fast Pitch winners on the Social Venture Partner’s site.
But here are the gold medalists — and a few of my personal favorites. If I browsing a crowd-funding site, they'd have me opening my wallet:
This is a new technology that recycles clothing, extracting premium, renewable fibers (like cotton) which are then used to make more clothes. Before Evrnu, some 12 million tons of old clothes would wind up in U.S. landfills each year. Now, Evrnu rescues and deconstructs these old garments. And that's why Stacy Flynn (below), Evrnu CEO and co-founder, went home with three different awards: First Place in the Investment Fund For-Profit category ($140,000), the Audience Choice Award ($3,500) and the Grow50 Award ($120,000 in consulting time). Evrnu is working in partnership with Goodwill and Eileen Fisher. If you want to get your hands on an Evrnu t-shirt before the technology pricetags on its clothes hit high-fashion levels, then help chip away at the $17,271 left to raise in the company's IndiGoGo campaign.