Narrowing from dozens of submissions from across Grounds and around the world, the McIntire School’s Galant Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship hosted four finalists April 27 for the 2017 Galant Challenge, a “Shark Tank”-like, real-world investment pitch event. Initiated in 2012 by Center trustee Mark Galant (McIntire ’80), Founder and former CEO and Chairman of Gain Capital and Founder, CEO, and Chairman of Tydall Trading LLC, the Galant Challenge is designed not only to showcase compelling ventures emerging from the UVA community, but also to connect them with critically important capital. The annual event has resulted in more than $2 million of venture investments.
The event’s format was carefully planned to give the audience a fly-on-the-wall experience of a real-world entrepreneurial “pitch.” Having already met privately with the event’s panel of potential investors, the entrepreneurs—all of whom are UVA alumni or faculty members—spent 10 minutes on stage with the investor-panelists, allowing listeners to witness the pointed questions and nuanced discussions that occur during “pitch” meetings, as founders and potential investors discuss key issues ranging from market opportunities and competitive concerns to the founders’ backgrounds, experience, and accomplishments, as well as the venture’s “secret sauce.”
This year’s panel of investors included, in addition to Galant, ArmadaGlobal Co-Founder and Board Member Brian Rogers (McIntire ’84) and Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney Counsel and friend of the University Kevin Passerello. The three will invest a total of $500,000 in three of the four Galant Challenge finalists, pending further due diligence and conversations:
- Commonwealth Joe, manufacturer and distributor of cold-brewed nitro coffee; pitch presented by Co-Founder Robert Peck (Engineering ’09)
- X-Mode, application developer and aggregator of consumer location information; pitch presented by Co-Founder Joshua Anton (McIntire ’14)
- iTi Health, a biotechnology company attempting to cure several forms of cancer with a new mechanism of action to attack tumors, pitch presented by Co-Founder Kim Kelly, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, UVA Department of Biomedical Engineering