Venture Sharks 2020 winnerVenture Connectors is thrilled to share that BrainSTEM University is the winner of our 11th annual Venture Sharks™ business pitch competition! Led by founder Ricky Mason, BrainSTEM is an educational tech startup that provides in-person and virtual learning via a proprietary virtual learning environment and social network that allows students to participate in STEM classes, projects and clubs. Read more in Business First here.

The winner was selected during the final round of competition on Oct. 7, where four entrepreneurs seeking funding for their business plans faced off virtually with a panel of savvy investor sharks fishing for the next great deal. BrainSTEM was selected based on the viability of its idea, the ability of the competition’s prize to positively impact the business and quality of its presentation. Venture Sharks’ 2020 presenting sponsor is Open i Advisors.

Venture Connectors received more than 30 applications from entrepreneurs across the region. During the finals, presenters were allowed a few minutes to describe their idea to the judges, who then fired off questions to the presenters in the style of the popular television show, “Shark Tank.”

The winner received a grand prize package designed to help them take their idea to market, including a $5,000 cash award, one-on-one mentoring from established entrepreneurs and advisors, and other in-kind services provided by sponsors Open i Advisors, Forecastr, Mightily and Mira.

We also want to thank our wonderful judges: Monique Quarterman, executive director of the newly formed Kentucky Commercialization Ventures; Paul Ehlinger, principal at Allos Ventures, with locations in Indianapolis and Cincinnati; and Ida Khodami, partner at Two Bear Capital based in Whitefish, Montana.

Please join us in congratulating the other finalists, who were brave enough to jump in the water with the Sharks:

  • Borderless, an online bank payment processor enabling affordable and direct digital payments from anywhere in the world without the need for foreign bank accounts.
  • CASPER Security, a company that helps municipalities protect first responders and neighbors from vacant and abandoned property disasters through rapid deployments of a proprietary, solar-powered home security system.
  • Pav*r, an integrated productivity tool that leverages calendar data to help users get more done in less time.

Venture Sharks has awarded more than $100,000 in prizes since it launched in 2010. For more about the competition, click here.