UMKC Professor’s Invention a Finalist in National Entrepreneurship Competition

EyeVerify one of eight startups selected to ‘Get In The Ring’

EyeVerify, a Kansas City startup based on technology developed by a University of Missouri-Kansas City faculty member, is one of eight companies selected as national finalists by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation for the title of “America’s most promising entrepreneur.”

EyeVerify is the exclusive provider of EyePrint Verification, a highly accurate biometric software solution for mobile devices. EyePrint Verification delivers a password-free mobile experience and secure authentication at a glance by using existing cameras on smartphones to image and pattern-match the blood vessels in the whites of the eye. The process was developed by Reza Derakhshani, Ph.D., an associate professor in UMKC’s School of Computing and Engineering.

The process was licensed to a startup formed by entrepreneur Toby Rush, thanks to the UMKC Innovation Center’s Whiteboard to Boardroom program, which connects new ideas with entrepreneurs who can turn them into businesses.

Rush will now be a contestant in the Kauffman-sponsored “Get in the Ring: The American Startup Clash” on Nov. 18. The winner will earn $10,000 and board a plane the next day for an all-expenses-paid trip to the Nov. 22 global finals in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. If he is chosen, Rush will compete with seven other international finalists selected from 30 participating nations, for a chance to secure funding from an angel investor  pool of approximately $1.3 million.

Here is the full announcement from the Kauffman Foundation:

Eight Entrepreneurs Make it to Final Round of ‘Get in the Ring’ U.S. Pitch Competition Hosted by Kauffman Foundation

Startups from seven states will face off Nov. 18 in front of prominent judges, live audience to compete for cash, prizes and chance to move on to global finals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Oct. 23, 2013) – From an initial field of 283 applicants, eight U.S. entrepreneurs are still standing – and they’re ready to do battle in the final round of the first-ever “Get in the Ring: The American Startup Clash.”

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, host of the U.S. competition, today announced the names of the finalists who will vie for the title of America’s most promising entrepreneur live in Kansas City on the evening of Nov. 18.

Judges, including leaders of prominent incubators, accelerators and entrepreneurship organizations from across the nation, reviewed the applications and video submissions of 40 semifinalists in narrowing the field to eight finalists.

The finalists, hailing from seven states and representing a variety of industries, are:

  • Drazil Foods, Edina, Minn., is a woman-owned business that manufactures Drazil Tea, a blend of naturally caffeine-free herbal teas infused with fruit juices. The product offers a healthy alternative to many children’s drinks, meeting consumer desires for less sugar without compromising taste.
  • EyeVerify, Kansas City, Kan., is the exclusive provider of EyePrint Verification, a highly accurate biometric software solution for mobile devices. Eyeprint Verification delivers a password-free mobile experience and secure authentication at a glance by using existing cameras on smartphones to image and pattern match the blood vessels in the whites of the eye.
  • MANA Nutrition, Matthews, N.C., makes ready-to-use foods designed to treat severe malnutrition and its devastating effects. MANA has a 30,000-square-foot production facility in Georgia that makes a therapeutic peanut butter for aid groups such as UNICEF, the UN World Food Program, World Vision and USAID.
  • POPVOX, Redwood City, Calif., is an online advocacy and civic engagement platform that meshes real-time legislative data with users’ personal stories and sentiment. POPVOX curates and delivers public input to Congress in a format tailored to actionable policy decisions.
  • REPP, Cincinnati, creates verified profiles that individuals can share with others they meet through commerce, dating or networking sites. REPP provides identity and photo verification along with personally verified background checks.
  • St. Teresa Medical, Inc., Maple Grove, Minn., is a medical device company commercializing a new hemostatic technology platform called FASTCLOT®. The patent-pending FASTCLOT technology accelerates the clotting cascade by adding robust clot-forming proteins to a wound site, stopping hemorrhaging faster.
  • Travefy, Lincoln, Neb., is a free group travel planner that solves the coordination headaches of travel. Through Travefy, a user can invite friends to a trip by syncing Facebook or Gmail accounts or adding emails, poll friends socially about trip preferences, collaborate on trip details via a private, shared planning wall and book travel with deals from partners.
  • weeSpring, New York, is an online community, built off of existing social networks, that allows parents to share advice with their friends about baby essentials.

The final eight will kick off Global Entrepreneurship Week festivities in Kansas City on Nov. 18 by delivering their best and final pitches to an esteemed panel of judges: global fashion mogul Marc Ecko; Dell president Steve Felice; serial entrepreneur, investor and author Lisa Gansky; consumer brand “turnaround” CEO Matthew Rubel; and broadcast and digital media guru Denmark West.

A cash prize of $10,000 will be awarded to the top U.S. finisher, and $5,000 will go to the runner-up. An “audience favorite” will also be awarded.

In addition to the cash prize, the startup crowned U.S. champion will leave Kansas City the very next day to travel expense-paid to the Nov. 22 Get in the Ring global finals in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. There, he or she will compete with seven other international finalists, selected from 30 participating nations, for a chance to secure angel investment from a potential pool of €1,000,000, or approximately $1.3 million.

Get in the Ring was founded in 2009 by the Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship in the Netherlands to bring the world’s most promising entrepreneurs together with those who can help them succeed and to inspire others to start their entrepreneurial journeys. The international finals are held each November during Global Entrepreneurship Week.

The Kauffman Foundation serves as host of the first-ever U.S. Get in the Ring competition, and Sprint is the U.S. national sponsor. Other sponsors include leading online tech news publication VentureBeat, boxing equipment company Combat Brands/Ringside and Kansas City PBS television station KCPT.

For full details about Get in the Ring: The American Startup Clash, visit www.kauffman.org/GITR.

Video of the event will be livestreamed at www.kauffman.org/GITR.

About Get in the Ring
For more information about the international competition of Get in the Ring, visit www.gitr.nl.  Also follow Get in the Ring on Twitter @gitr_gew and Facebook/getinthering.gew.


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