KC to Host ‘Get in the Ring’ Finalists, Including Toby Rush

Having a knockout pitch is vital for startups, because that’s how they win investors.

So it’s fitting that the entrepreneurial pitch with the biggest punch will emerge victorious in the “Get in the Ring: The American Startup Clash” at 7 p.m. Nov. 18 at the Kauffman Foundation, 4801 Rockhill Road. There will be an opening reception at 6 p.m.

The event, which will serve as the U.S. finals for the Get in the Ring international competition, will begin Global Entrepreneurship Week with the powerful pitches of eight small-business finalists from seven states – including EyeVerify of Kansas City, Kan., whose CEO Toby Rush previously ran Rush Tracking Systems, an alumnus of 25 Under 25®.

The battle for the title of America’s Most Promising Entrepreneur will encompass a sure-to-be-encouraging live audience; renowned judges from leading accelerators, incubators and entrepreneurship groups; and the chance for contestants to win cash, prizes and an expense-paid trip to compete in the “Get in the Ring” global final.

The American finalists, chosen from 283 original applicants from around the nation:

  • Drazil Foods, in Edina, Minn., makes Drazil Kids Tea, a blend of caffeine-free herbal teas and fruit juices. The woman-owned company’s beverages contain less sugar than many other drinks marketed to children, but still deliver a pleasing taste.
  • EyeVerify, in Kansas City, Kan., is the sole supplier of EyePrint Verification, which utilizes smartphone cameras to provide password-free mobile identification through eye vein biometrics.
  • MANA (Mother Administered Nutritive Aid) Nutrition, in Matthews, N.C., makes an easy-to-use “peanut butter on steroids” to treat extreme malnutrition. The product is employed in hunger-relief efforts by UNICEF and other aid groups throughout the world.
  • POPVOX, in Redwood City, Calif., provides an online interface for both individuals and organizations interested in policy advocacy and/or public engagement by connecting in-the-moment Congressional data with users’ information and experiences.
  • REPP, in Cincinnati, generates verified profiles (identity, photo, background check) that customers can share when engaged in online dating, commerce or networking.
  • St. Teresa Medical, Inc., in Maple Grove, Minn., is a medical device company selling a new haemostatic technology called FASTCLOT (patent-pending), which stops severe bleeding faster by attaching vigorous clot-forming proteins to a wound site.
  • Travefy, in Lincoln, Neb., is a free group travel planner that solves the coordination hassles of taking a trip. Users can invite friends to travel by syncing their social media or email accounts. They can also partner on details, book lodgings or manage joint expenses by way of a mutual planning wall.
  • weeSpring, in New York, is an online service that helps parents share advice with their friends about baby basics, from bottles and diapers to strollers and high chairs.

The “Get in the Ring” panel of judges: fashion tycoon Marc Ecko; Dell president Steve Felice; serial entrepreneur, investor and writer Lisa Gansky; consumer brand turnaround CEO Matthew Rubel; and broadcast and digital media expert Denmark West.

The top U.S. finalist will receive $10,000 cash, and the runner-up will take home $5,000 cash. An award will also go to the evening’s “audience favorite.”

The American champ will depart Kansas City the day after the competition to be part of the “Get in the Ring” international finals on Nov. 22 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, where he or she will vie with seven other global finalists to acquire angel investment from a prospective pool of about $1.3 million.