5 ‘whoa’ moments from 1776 Challenge Cup Philly

Eleven Philly startups gave their two-minute pitches Tuesday night at the 1776 Challenge Cup Philly.

The event was organized by D.C.-based incubator 1776 and Benjamin’s Desk. Reportedly, the two companies are negotiating a merger deal, though the Washington Business Journal is calling it an acquisition. No big announcements were made, but more on that in a bit.

From consumer-facing companies like realLIST alum Tern Water to more Philly’s more traditional B2B plays like drone startup Aerial Applications, the night gave a glimpse at some of Philly’s most interesting seed-level startups.

Once the pitches were heard, medical transportation startup RoundTrip — which was recently involved with the Philly Startup Leaders accelerator — took the top prize and earned a ticket to the Global Finals at Challenge Festival in New York City from Nov. 13–17.

It was quite a night so let’s break it down in parts so we don’t miss anything:

Vijay Kumar stumps for Philly

The night kicked off with a fireside chat between Penn Dean of Engineering Vijay Kumar and Benjamin’s Desk’s Shelton Mercer.

Kumar, who has formerly called Philly a hotbed of robotics research, said as he neared the 30-year mark at Penn he was becoming more and more encouraged by the city’s progress. He also called for academia to help educate legislators on the need to invest in cutting-edge technology.

11 well-rounded startups pitch

Most startups could have done a good job at the global finals, repping Philly’s varied ecosystem. This isn’t Philly fawning for Philly: this is simply a sign that most of the startups picked for the competition were evidently at a more mature stage and were at ease answering questions from the judges.

There were crowd favorites like the Benjamin’s Desk–based LeagueSide which came bearing big growth projections (to the tune of $7 million in revenue for 2018) and NeuroFlow, repped by cofounder and Armyveteran Christopher Molaro. It was a solid group, and the judges (Howzer’s Mike Maher and 1776’s Penny Lee among them) could tell.

Read more about the 1776 Challenge Cup here.