On July 9th, Founders Spark, Start Fort Wayne, and Venture Club of Indiana held the first ever BLAZE competition. Ten startups from northeast Indiana competed for $6,000 of prize money and for a chance to represent the region at the 2019 Innovation Showcase to be held August 22nd in Indianapolis. After the ten companies delivered their 4 minute company pitches, the judges awarded the following prizes:
First Prize: R. Wesley Gensch of CoolCorp Inc., who invented and markets a cryo-compression medical recovery device.
Runner-up Prize: Robert Johnson of Bukál Beverage Co, a company producing natural sparkling water beverages with non-traditional flavors.
People’s Choice: Kyle Craig of Apollo Dynamics Inc., inventor of tech enabled wearables that record and deliver biometric data.
1517 Fund Special Prize: Justin Sheehan of Emporia, creators of specialized marketing software targeted toward small businesses.
CoolCorp, Inc. and Bukál Beverage Co. will proceed to the 2019 Innovation Showcase, held by Venture Club of Indiana in Indianapolis, on August 22nd, 2019. The BLAZE event partners encourage everyone in our region to attend the event to cheer on our representative companies. More information about the showcase can be found at: https://www.ventureclub.org/events/#!event/register/2019/8/22/2019-innovation-showcase
R. Wesley Gensch, first prize winner, said “I’m excited for the opportunity to represent the Fort Wayne area in the state competition. My goal is for CoolCorp to continue to grow and impact as many as possible, aiding them on their road to recovery.”
Bukál Beverage founder Robert Johnson said, “Words cannot express how grateful I am for the entrepreneurial community of Fort Wayne and for those who put on Blaze. So much of our success has hinged on the support we’ve received during our first 3 months in existence.”
Dave Sanders, Founder and Board Chair of Start Fort Wayne, reported “I am thrilled with the response from the community for this first ever BLAZE event. Seeing the Philmore filled with a diverse, energetic, and entrepreneur supporting audience shows how far we’ve come in the past four or five years. Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana’s startup culture is growing exponentially, which is great for our long-term economic vitality.”
BLAZE was sponsored by SEED Fort Wayne as well as supporting sponsors STAR Bank, elevate northeast indiana, Greater Fort Wayne, Inc, and the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership.