A Canadian startup, Dream Payments, will be relocating to grow its business in Connecticut, after winning the state’s first ever international pitch competition.
Connecticut Innovations, the state’s technology investment agency, has promoted many programs to support entrepreneurship in the state over the years, but they’ve been feeling a bit under the radar.
“The trouble was, not enough people knew about all the good work we were doing,” said CI’s Glendowlyn Thames. She said she and her team were recently challenged to think bigger.
“Come up with a competition so big, it would get the attention of the most talented entrepreneurs not just in Connecticut and the U.S., but in the world,” she said.
That competition is VentureClash, and an audience of judges, investors, big company executives, economic development professionals, and aspiring entrepreneurs gathered at the Yale School of Management to see the final event in this battle of the startups; 11 early stage companies from all over the world, competing to win a share of $5 million in investment.
The finalists had been winnowed out from many entries, some of which got to work with Connecticut-based mentors to refine their pitches. And at the final, they were given this cautionary advice from Priceline founder Scott Case.
“Raising capital, winning a pitch competition, all of those things are really nice blips to put on the storyline, but the reality is you guys are building real businesses, and that’s really hard. The key metrics are about the goals you have for your business,” he said.
The winner, garnering a $1.5 million investment, was Toronto’s Dream Payments, which has created a way to allow businesses to accept payment with cloud-based mobile technology. Dream Payments must now establish a base in Connecticut, something it said will allow it to access the huge U.S. market.
Runner up was the UK-based Hubbub, which gets $1 million to expand its concept of harnessing social media data for fundraising.
This year’s inaugural event was open to financial technology and digital health companies, but CI said it intends to make VentureClash an annual happening, and open it to more industries.