FastPitch competition winner goes by the book

By Katie Martin

On Friday, books mixed with a little bit of technology took home the top prize at the Creative Coast’s annual FastPitch competition.

“Here, just like everywhere else, there are a lot more library fans than library users. So what is preventing all of you from going to the library all of the time?” asked Trey Gordner, creator of Koios, a browser extension that alerts users when books are available at local libraries.

Twenty-two participants pitched their products and services Friday to a panel of six judges and more than a 100 audience members, who asked follow-up questions after each presentation at the Creators’ Foundry on West Boundry Street.

Through research, Gordner said he determined that most people don’t know what libraries have to offer and the process of trying to find an item at the library takes too long.

Enter Koios.

For example, if you’re shopping for the newest Stephen King novel on Amazon, a message will alert you that it’s available at your neighborhood library and you can reserve it on the spot with just a click. It also recommends books based on past preferences and reminds you when they’re due.

The extension is free through participating libraries, and the product is currently being tested in 20 libraries across the country. The Washoe County libraries in Reno, Nevada, have already committed to a long-term partnership, Gordner said.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” Gordner said after taking the top spot. “I can pitch all day without thinking about it, but sitting here listening to awards just gets my heart pumping, so this is really great.”

The competition categories were service-based, product-based and student entrepreneurs. Judges evaluated impact, innovation and delivery of the pitch.

Presenters go through coaching before the competition to prepare them for the main event, according to Bea Wray, executive director of the Creative Coast.

“So many people learn so much before the day even happens,” Wray said. “The process of the coaching, the preparing and taking 30 minutes of information and having to cram it down into three minutes really forces you to hone the skills.”

Other ideas

David Shpigler was the runner-up for his pitch on Intelligent Pathway, which is an online learning platform.

“We come up with a way to deliver personalized learning pathways for each and every student that taps in and allows them to tap into their own pace and style so that they don’t have to follow along with a pre-determined lesson plan,” Shpigler said during his pitch.

Shpigler said his product monitors the strengths and weaknesses of students so they understand where they need to go.

“Our approach will really nail down what the strength and weaknesses are,” he said. “So student number one understands geometry but is struggling with Pythagorean Theorem, whereas student number two is struggling across the board, so we understand that the root cause of why they’re getting the same test scores is vastly different.”

Ideas pitched represented ideas across the Lowcountry, from portion control dishes and composting to woodworking and a vegan café.

Angelina Patel, a junior at Savannah Country Day School, won the student category for her pitch on Savannah Kids Code — an after-school coding program Patel started as a freshmen to teach basics and break the stigma that all coders were nerds.

“When I started this program I thought no child in their right mind would give up their Saturday to learn coding, but I was wrong… In the future we hope to see the program expand to summer camps, after school programs,” Patel said.

In addition to the exposure and networking connections, winners took home cash and other prizes.

2016 FastPitch Winners

Overall winner: Koios, Trey Gordner

First runner-up: Intelligent Pathway, David Shpigler

Second runner-up: My Guardian Angel, Layne Livingston

Student Runner-up: Savannah Kids Code, Angelina Patel

Service Entrepreneur runner-up: InfoSecQuote, David Zendzian

Product Entrepreneur runner-up: OnTheRocks, Nate Washington

Audience Favorite: FarmTruck912, Cyndi Satlow

Originally Published in Business in Savannah:


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