Business

Two Lexington companies win cash prizes at "Stand Up for Your Start Up"

Heidi McKenzie made the pitch for her company, Alter Ur Ego, proposal during the 2014 Stand Up For Your Start-Up Pitch Competition in the Commerce Lexington conference room, 330 East Main St. in Lexington, Ky., Friday, November 21, 2014. Participants put together a five-minute presentation about their company & start-up idea and pitch it to a panel of experts. In August of 2007, Heidi was in a car accident which resulted in paraplegia. She has now developed a line of clothing for others, who like herself, use a wheelchair. Photo by Charles Bertram | Staff
Heidi McKenzie made the pitch for her company, Alter Ur Ego, proposal during the 2014 Stand Up For Your Start-Up Pitch Competition in the Commerce Lexington conference room, 330 East Main St. in Lexington, Ky., Friday, November 21, 2014. Participants put together a five-minute presentation about their company & start-up idea and pitch it to a panel of experts. In August of 2007, Heidi was in a car accident which resulted in paraplegia. She has now developed a line of clothing for others, who like herself, use a wheelchair. Photo by Charles Bertram | Staff Herald-Leader

A dozen Kentucky companies made pitches before a three-judge team Friday at the fourth annual "Stand Up for Your Start-Up" event at Commerce Lexington.

At stake: Awards of $1,000, $500 and the experience of selling your company.

In a format similar to TV's Shark Tank, start-up companies were given five minutes to make their pitch before a team of three judges that included last year's winner, LaShana Harris of Babylocity, LLC.

Harris told the entrepreneurs about her efforts to launch her first product, a specialty baby bottle into which powdered formula is loaded into one compartment and water into another, being mixed only when needed.

When the first model of the bottle proved too costly to produce, Harris told the group, she was forced to simplify the product's parts and try again.

Nonetheless, she said, "I've enjoyed every moment of the ride."

Blink Technologies (Perfectimagescan.com) won $1,000 for its low-cost, high-detail scanner that digitizes images quickly.

The $1,000 award is given in honor of Dick Furst, the former dean of the UK College of Business, as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week activities.

Don Skaggs, the chief executive officer of Blink, brought a BlinkScan device with him. The scanner will soon be available for sale, Skaggs said. "We see this as the first of many imaging products," he told the judges.

In 1991, Skaggs co-founded US Biotex Corporation, a company that made specialty products for pathology laboratories. But that company was recently sold, leaving Skaggs seeking another company-building opportunity.

Second place and $500 went to Triblue Engineering Corp. and its president, Joseph Alexander, for a device that purifies natural gas to get it ready for market. Alexander developed the idea through his graduate work at UK.

Other companies that presented pitches included C&D Innovations, which offered a hairbrush that removes oil from hair without the use of dry shampoo.

Cameron Lippert pitched the brush by telling judges, "I haven't washed my hair since Monday."

When manufactured, the oil-removing brush would sell for between $30-$50, Lippert said.

Other companies pitching included Super Soul, a video game development company; Pawn Metrics, which offers pawn shop management software; Hippo Manager, which makes veterinary practice software; and Alter UR Ego, which hopes to produce specialty blue jeans for wheelchair-using customers.

Heidi McKenzie of Alter UR Ego pitched her company as offering "all the fashion, all the function" of regular jeans.

McKenzie, the 2012 Ms. Wheelchair Kentucky, said the jeans would have an elastic waistband, rise high in the back and have pockets in the thighs.

She said the jeans would also be longer than standard jeans.

"Who wants highwaters when you're sitting down?" she said.

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