Eliminating deaths caused by pneumonia. Securing payment data using blockchain. These are just a few of the innovative ideas that were pitched—and that won—at the 2018 edition of Dancing With the Start-Ups (DWTS), a premiere event hosted by NACD at its annual Global Board Leaders’ Summit (GBLS).
2018 winners, from left to right: Zohar Steinberg (Token), Tinia Pina (Re-Nuble), Temiloluwa Adeniyi (NoPneu), and Fabrizio Martini (Electra Vehicles)
Audience members and judges alike at GBLS were inspired by the big ideas and disruptive technologies that the winners presented in short, Shark Tank-style pitches—all emceed by Guy Raz, the acclaimed host of TED Radio Hour and How I Built This. The 2018 competition winners’ companies solve for everything from health care crises to financial fraud, and promise to offer creative solutions to some of the most pressing challenges faced by businesses and people around the globe.
The winner in each category received a monetary prize package, a complimentary NACD membership, and a suite of NACD services and support to help them advance strong governance practices within their companies as they grow in size. Our previous DWTS competitors rank NACD mentoring as one of the most useful parts of participating in DWTS, and around 80 percent of former competitors received further mentoring, contacts, or funding through NACD-forged contacts.
- According to founder Temiloluwa Adeniyi’s pitch, undiagnosed pneumonia kills 1 million children per year. Nopneu, the winner in the health-care category, wants to change that through a diagnostic saliva test that is cheaper to manufacture and faster to diagnosis than chest X-rays. As a medical device, there is a low threshold for FDA testing and approvals. Adeniyi believes that with the partnership of the Gates Foundation NoPneu can help eliminate pneumonia.
- In the energy category, cofounder Fabrizio Martini introduced the audience to Electra Vehicles, a dual-energy storage (battery) and control solution. The technology was originally researched as part of the NASA Venus rover investigation, and has applications for vehicles in the United States and globally. Looking beyond electric vehicles, Electra Research claims that “anywhere there are batteries, we can help.”
- Financial services winner Token is in the business of eliminating bank-card fraud. “Hackers can’t steal what you don’t share! […And] hackers can’t steal what merchants don’t have,” said founder and CEO Zohar Steinberg. New York- and Israel-based Token hides your payment information behind secure virtual cards that are accepted wherever MasterCard is accepted.
- Re-Nuble, the winner in the “discovery industry” category, turns food waste into organic fertilizer, helping the organic food production industry work toward implementing a no-waste supply chain solution. Re-Nuble’s process doesn’t create any greenhouse gas emissions, is 20 percent cheaper than chemical fertilizer, and works in both hydroponic and traditional soil-based environments. This helps agribusiness create a closed-loop sustainable architecture, said Re-Nuble founder and CEO Tinia Pina.
This year’s pitch competition, presented in conjunction with KITE, put every audience member in the judge’s seat. Expert judges Ray Rothrock (RedSeal), John Farrell (KPMG LLP), Danielle Cohn (Comcast Corp.), Robin Raskin (Living in Digital Times), and Amy Wilkinson (Ingenuity) asked probing questions and evaluated pitches.
Judges from left to right: Amy Wilkinson, Ray Rothrock, Robin Raskin, John Farrell, and Danielle Cohn
The audience also was able to weigh in on their favorites by voting on the GBLS mobile app. Winners were selected by a combination of the audience and the judges’ votes.
Click here to learn more about this year’s start-up stars.