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Student startup teams compete in USC Proving Ground

Staff Report
Published Nov. 6, 2012

Seven student startup teams in The Proving Ground, the University of South Carolina’s entrepreneurial challenge, were selected Monday to compete Nov. 13 for $40,000 in prizes and startup support.

The competitors

$15,000 SCRA Technology Ventures Prize

  • Palmetto NanoCare, a company that makes antimicrobial paints and coatings for the health care industry.
  • HuddleHR, a Columbia-based software startup that develops Web and mobile products to help small businesses effectively manage human capital.

$10,000 Innovista Innovation Prize

  • HoVee, a college campus concept for a network of shared bicycles that students can access for a nominal membership fee.
  • The Photographer Source, a cloud-based tool for basic photo studio management that enables photographers to run their business from anywhere in the world.
  • MyBuddy, an Internet-based language resource that pairs Korean students with native English speakers at a lower cost than traditional tutoring.

$5,000 Maxient Social Impact Prize

  • Watsi, which uses crowd funding to help people fund low-cost, high-impact medical treatments for people in need around the world.
  • Cooking with Carbon Credits, a company that sells carbon offsets created by the construction of new portable kitchens and reforested plots of land in the Andes.

The campus and community can participate in the presentations, which begin at 6 p.m. in Lumpkin Auditorium on the eighth floor of the Darla Moore School of Business.

“This is where it gets really exciting, when students put it all on the line to convince a panel of judges why their big idea is the best one and why they should win the prize money and startup support,” said Dean Kress, associate director of the Moore School’s Faber Entrepreneurship Center.

Greg Hilton, executive director at the Center for Entrepreneurial and Technological Innovation, said the role of the audience will be to provide the mood for the competition.

“Startups feed off the energy and support of others,” Hilton said. “This is the community’s opportunity to see and influence the next generation of entrepreneurs by creating a high-energy atmosphere for these students as they compete head to head.”

Students will vie for prizes in three categories.

The pitch competition requires each individual or team finalists to make a case about their venture to a panel of judges in a five-minute presentation.

This year’s judges will be Bill Kirkland, executive director of USC Columbia Technology Incubator and co-founder of 52 Apps; John Hackler, USC alumnus and founder of Spanish Vines; Aaron and Candice Hark, founders of Maxient Technologies; Chase Mizzell, student body vice president; and Doreen Sullivan, founder of Post No Bills.

For more information about the competition, visit or email

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