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9th Annual FastPitch Competition Wrap up

Monday, June 29th, 2015
2015 FastPitch Competition Winners!

2015 FastPitch Competition Winners!

Winners present innovative products for personal care, fitness and advertising innovations

Celebrating creators, designers, builders, makers and dreamers, thirty-eight entrepreneurs put everything on the line during the 9th Annual FastPitch Competition last week at NIU-Rockford. FastPitch was created nine years ago to identify, support and celebrate creators, designers, builders, makers and dreamers. The competition embodies the heritage of the region—the innovators, entrepreneurs and risk takers that built our community. Since 2006, 500 presenters have conveyed why their product, service, app or idea was worthy of investment, with many going on to create jobs and wealth in the community.

Thirteen finalists made the stage vying for cash prizes and a six month coworking space/membership at one of our region’s three business incubators.

The first place winner, P.J. McGuire, solves an age-old problem with her Wrapperoo™ product; “Look Your Best, No Mess!” Wrapperoo™ is the only hair & beauty solution which assists in drying your hair and keeping styling chemicals, wet hair, hot tools, debris and make-up off your skin and clothes—it’s both a towel and cape. For the guys, it can also be used while shaving or trimming after they’re dressed. McGuire presented on ABC’s “Good Morning America’s” mini ABC “Shark Tank” and received a thumb’s up from program investor Barbara Corcoran!

Second place winner, Doug Hoang’s product is 4Motion exercise clothing. Embedded with sensors, 4Motion exercise clothing provides users with an informational and addictive experience to achieve fitness results and prevent injuries. Doug shared, “Thank you for putting the event together. It was a lot of fun—great job!”

Brad Marshall and Paul Fowler took third place with AdsOrTails. A Rockford-based tech startup, AdsOrTails facilitates a fun connection between local businesses and consumers. Brad shared, “Over the past two competitions, FastPitch provided my business partner and me an opportunity to test our unique online idea to engage the Rockford community and support local businesses as well as the confidence to have our site go live.”

An important addition to this year’s competition was the Dale Falconer Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award.   
The late Dale Falconer, owner of Seward Screw Products, was one of the founding board members of both EIGERlab and TechWorks. He was a leader and outspoken supporter for entrepreneurs and manufactures in our region. Dale provided ongoing financial support and guidance to EIGERlab and the FastPitch Competition. He was full of passion, energy and fun, and continually invested time and money to support entrepreneurship and innovation in the region. NIU EIGERlab along with Seward Screw Products has elected to honor his memory by creating the Dale Falconer, Spirt of Entrepreneurship Award. This will be an ongoing award that will be presented annually to the participant that most embodies Dale’s passion, energy and spirit of giving back.

Nicole Sdao received the inaugural Falconer award for her business, FundrasingCommitte.net. This one-of-a-kind idea connects non-profits with information that enables them to thrive and focus on their individual missions. Nicole said, “The Dale Falconer Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award is such an amazing honor!  Ideas, businesses, and companies come and go but the spirit can touch someone and infect them with the same fire – that’s amazing, that’s what living is all about.    It’s clear that Dale Falconer had that infectious spirit and to be honored as the first recipient of an award embodying his spirit…truly awesome, mind-blowing and humbling all at the same time.”

Tim Benedict clenched the CleanTech award with his product, Diesel Life Support System (DLS²). Tim conveyed, “FastPitch was a great experience and I’m honored we were one of the winners—so many great inventions.”

Keynote speaker and founder of Sittercity.com, Genevieve Thiers, impressed the audience with her wide range of entrepreneurial expertise. An inventor, investor, mother of young twin boys, and opera singer Thiers speech was delivered in a humor-laden, off the cuff manner, but her message was clear: never stop trying; persevere at all costs. She was highly-impressed with the finalist’s presentations and shared that she was interested in potentially investing in several of their ideas.

Other FastPitch finalists included: Jacob Bradt, RockfordBuzz.com; Lisa and Erik Chamberlin, Guardian Angel Armour; Dane Christianson, X-Cube; Antoine Clark, KINEXX; Daniel Haas, Tarp Buddy; T.J. Hicks, Digital Storybox; Zina Horton, Zammuto’s; Griffin Kelly, TRAC; and Dan Szczesny, PopularMentions.

FastPitch presenters and other aspiring innovators and entrepreneurs can seek assistance and support through many services offered through the NIU EIGERlab Innovation Network. Project management, prototyping, investor pitches/introductions and business development assistance at all levels can be obtained through NIU EIGERlab and its network of skilled professionals.

The Racine | Kenosha FastPitch Competition will be held on August 19 at the SC Johnson iMET Center, 2320 Renaissance Blvd. in Sturtevant, Wisconsin. Presenters who did not win a cash prize at the Rockford event can once again compete.

The 2015 FastPitch Competition was made possible by the NIU EIGERlab Innovation Network, Rockford Area Economic Development Council, StateLine Angels, and our fabulous sponsors: Alpine Bank, City of Rockford, Colorlab Cosmetics, Growth Dimensions of Belvidere & Boone County, IL Small Business Development Center at RVC, IL Procurement Technical Assistance Center at RVC, Leading Edge Hydraulics, Northern Illinois Renewable Energy Summit & Expo, Rockford Area Realtors, Rockford Bank & Trust, Rockford Chamber of Commerce, Rockford Local Development Corporation, Savant Capital Management, Seward Screw Products, Stillman Bank, U.S. Bank, Universal Die Cast, WilliamsMcCarthy, Winnebago County and Wood CPAs.

Genevieve Thiers to Keynote June 17 FastPitch Competition at NIU-Rockford

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

GenevieveThiers1Former Small Business Administration Champion of the Year to share entrepreneurial wisdom

Where can you hear a successful serial entrepreneur share her entrepreneurial insights and witness Rockford’s version of ABC’s “Shark Tank” at the same time? NIU EIGERlab is proud to announce that Sittercity.com founder Genevieve Thiers will share her entrepreneurial wisdom at the ninth annual FastPitch Competition on Wednesday, June 17, 2015 at NIU Rockford.

Sittercity is America’s first and largest network to connect parents with care givers online – from childcare and pet care to home care and tutoring. It brings millions of users together in a two-sided marketplace that operates in the USA, Canada, and the UK.

In addition, Thiers is an accomplished Opera singer, a contributing writer for the Huffington Post and, as a Chicago Entrepreneurship Center board member, she was instrumental in getting 1871 (Chicago’s first tech incubator) off the ground. She is also co-founder of Contactkarma.com and OperaModa.com.

Thiers and her companies have been featured in an array of media outlets, including the Today Show, The View, Ellen, Donnie Deutsch, CBS’ The Early Show, CNN, Life & Style and in Marie Clare, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Redbook, Parents, Parenting, Better Homes and Gardens, and Working Mother. They have won more than 15 awards, including being named to the INC 500 list twice, SBA Small Business Young Entrepreneur of the Year in the White House in 2006, the CEC Momentum Award and the WBDC Rising Star award.

For full FastPitch competition details, flyer and registration form, visit NIU EIGERlab’s website, http://www.eigerlab.org/fastpitch-competition/. Business pitches must be submitted in writing (1,000 words or less) to SPritz@nullEIGERlab.org. For additional information, contact Sherry Pritz at 815.316.6357.

This event made possible by NIU EIGERlab, Rockford Area Economic Development Council, StateLine Angels, and our fabulous sponsors: Alpine Bank, Barbara Falconer, City of Rockford, Colorlab Cosmetics, Growth Dimensions of Belvidere & Boone County, IL Small Business Development Center at RVC, IL Procurement Technical Assistance Center at RVC, Leading Edge Hydraulics, Northern Illinois Renewable Energy Summit & Expo, Rockford Area Realtors, Rockford Bank & Trust, Rockford Chamber of Commerce, Rockford Local Development Corporation, Savant Capital Management, Seward Screw Products, Stillman Bank, U.S. Bank, Universal Die Cast, WilliamsMcCarthy, Winnebago County and Wood CPAs.

Pitchers Wanted for Ninth Annual FastPitch Competition to be held June 17 at NIU-Rockford

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

fastpitch-logoFor Immediate Release
April 30, 2015
Media Contact: Sherry Pritz

815.316.6357| SPritz@nullEIGERlab.org

Planning for the 9th Annual FastPitch Competition is well underway, and NIU EIGERlab is looking for the best and brightest to pitch their ideas at FastPitch, which offers entrepreneurs, inventors, startups, pre-startups, existing business owners and students (high school seniors and college) the opportunity to “pitch” their business idea or innovative business to a panel of esteemed judges from the business and investment community.

With a top prize of $5,000 at stake and a Clean Tech prize of $500 at stake, it’s well worth the effort.

Deadline for FastPitch participants to submit their business pitches in writing for pre-qualification is Wednesday, June 3; accepted participants will be notified by 5 p.m. on Friday, June 5.

FastPitch presentation training sessions are scheduled from 5:30 – 8 p.m. at the NIU EIGERlab on Tuesday, June 9, and Thursday, June 11. Training to assist applicants with fine-tuning their presentations is strongly suggested (preferably Tuesday). The cost is $15, and past winners have found the training to be very beneficial.

For full FastPitch competition details, flyer and registration form, visit NIU EIGERlab’s website, http://www.eigerlab.org/fastpitch-competition/. Business pitches must be submitted in writing (1,000 words or less) to SPritz@nullEIGERlab.org. For additional information, contact Sherry Pritz at 815.316.6357.

This event made possible by NIU EIGERlab, Rockford Area Economic Development Council, StateLine Angels, and our fabulous sponsors: Alpine Bank, City of Rockford, Colorlab Cosmetics, Growth Dimensions of Belvidere & Boone County, IL Small Business Development Center at RVC, IL Procurement Technical Assistance Center at RVC, Leading Edge Hydraulics, Northern Illinois Renewable Energy Summit & Expo, Rockford Area Realtors, Rockford Bank & Trust, Rockford Chamber of Commerce, Rockford Local Development Corporation, Savant Capital Management, Seward Screw Products, Sjostrom & Sons, Stillman Bank, Universal Die Cast, WilliamsMcCarthy, Winnebago County and Wood CPAs.

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NIU EIGERlab April 2015 Newsletter | Tracie Burress, sockTABs semifinalist!

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

IMGP0131sockTABs wins again!

Tracie Burress, owner of sockTABs and winner of EIGERlab’s 2014 FastPitch Competition, has completed yet another impressive challenge. She is the only woman chosen in the state of Illinois as the semifinalist in Chicago’s Women’s Business Development Center InnovateHER CHALLENGE! For the next stage of the InnovateHER CHALLENGE, Tracie is one of only 10 women throughout the United States who will compete for over $30,000 in cash prizes in Washington, D.C.

To prepare for the submittal, she worked with both Sherry Pritz at EIGERlab and Brian McIntyre with the Small Business Development Center. We at NIU-EIGERlab wish Tracie much success in the Competition!

Visit sockTABs’ website

Click here for the complete newsletter.

NIU STEM Café expands to Rockford to present “The 3D Printing Revolution”

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Fredrico_Sciammarella_NIUSTEMCafe_3DPrintingMaybe you’ve seen one at your child’s school, in a downtown museum, or even at the local big box home store. 3-D printers are popping up everywhere, getting cheaper, and are easier to use than ever before. Advances in 3D printing are actually allowing researchers and average folks to print everything from car parts to body parts. At the next STEM Café, visitors can find out how 3D printing actually works and how it is changing lives.

Click here for the complete press release.

Click here for the marketing flyer.

NIU aims to expand entrepreneurship with Rockford EIGERlab acquisition

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

ROCKFORD — Northern Illinois University has acquired the Rockford-based business incubatorEIGERlab as it aims to expand its offerings to budding entrepreneurs and foster economic growth in the region.

EIGERlab, 605 Fulton Ave., helps startups and existing businesses develop products, commercialize ideas and learn new skills. It also offers design engineering and rapid prototyping services. NIU’s acquisition, completed near the start of the year, will allow greater links to university resources and expertise, as well as connect EIGERlab client companies to complementary services, said Rena Cotsones, associate vice president of engagement and innovation partnerships for NIU. The university will rebrand the lab as the NIU EIGERlab Innovation Network.

“With this new affiliation with NIU, I really believe that it will be able to evolve to the next level to really connect to the Illinois innovation ecosystem in a new and exciting way that is going to help the region immensely,” Cotsones said.

NIU acquired EIGERlab through a grant from the nonprofit Northern Illinois Research Foundation.

Click here for the complete article.

Shark Tank Rockford Style: 2015 FastPitch Competition Announced

Friday, March 13th, 2015

20141029_103343It’s hard to believe that this year’s event will be the 9th annual FastPitch Competition! It will be held on Wednesday, June 17 at NIU-Rockford and is open to the public at 5:00 PM. Over the past eight years, we’ve had an average of 48 people compete annually; totaling nearly 400 presenters. Following are comments from our 2014 FastPitch Competition winners.
Tracie Burress, our first place winner, said, “Competing in the EIGERlab’s FastPitch Competition has been truly invaluable to every aspect of my SockTABs business. When I first entered the EIGERlab, I only had an idea or concept in mind. After working closely with the engineers to perfect a prototype, we successfully competed in the FastPitch Competition against 34 would-be entrepreneurs. My husband and I took home top prize and won $5K that we used to launch our business. The amount of exposure that our business received because of this victory is immeasurable. Not a week goes by without someone mentioning the media coverage we received from our FastPitch Competition victory.

Click here for the complete article

 

EIGERlab’s January 2015 Newsletter | NIU Student Design Team Collaborates with EIGERlab’s Center for Product Development

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

20150129_NIU_Student_Design_TeamNIU’s mechanism design and analysis student team was assigned a challenging project-create a six-legged walking robot complete with a Hoeckens Linkage to compete with fellow student teams. Post design, they enlisted EIGERlab to print their creation utilizing additive manufacturing or 3D printing. Haley Cummings, a junior mechanical engineering major on the team, said, “The students were given design constraints by the professor, which included adding a Hoeckens linkage. Translation, it had to have six legs, walk, and have three feet on the ground at all times. This mechanism makes the legs of the robot walk along a path guided by the front leg.”

Click here for the complete newsletter.

EIGERlab’s December 2014 Newsletter | TechWorks’ impactful workforce results

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

TWWebsite_4559Congratulations to Gordy Blaisdell and his colleagues!

2014 has been an impactful year for TechWorks including entry-level Computerized Numeric Control (CNC) machine operator training, in addition to Assembly and custom training. The number of students who graduated from the six and seven week courses was impressive-92 CNC machine operators and 13 Assemblers. The spike in custom training reflects the value found by regional companies to expand their engineers’ knowledge beyond the engineering phase, as well as the creation of the part, and the process and machinery utilized to create it.

Click here for the complete newsletter.

EIGERlab assists NIU’s mechanism design and analysis class students

Friday, November 21st, 2014

Students in a mechanism design and analysis class are creating a six-legged walking mechanism machine using 3-D printing.

John Seper, senior mechanical engineering major, said teams of students spent at least two months completing their machine’s design. Seper’s team then contacted EIGERlab, which will complete the 3-D printed mechanism Friday or Monday.

The assignment is due the Tuesday after Thanksgiving break and the six groups of four to five students will compete for grades on their robots.

Click here for the complete article.

Click here to view the six-legged walking mechanism machine