Five-Minute Pitch Contest

The Pitch Contest has become an integral part of the Venture Forum’s commitment to fostering entrepreneurship and the growth of technology-based businesses, and is designed to generate investment interest for participating entrepreneurs.  Entrepreneurs contemplating, starting, running or operating early-stage technology ventures are invited to apply.

2013 Pitch Contest Sponsor

2013 Pitch Contest Sponsor

Look Who's Pitching!

Freight Farms - high-yield crop production units made from recycled shipping containers

IAS - Irrigation Automation Systems (IAS) sells proprietary, Internet-enabled remote monitoring and control equipment primarily to the Agricultural market. 

Advirna - novel generation of RNAi (RNA interference) reagents and related services for research in industry and academia 

O'Neill Motor Company - developed s a unitized power system that combines an internal combustion engine with a transmission into a single unit

Trovare, Inc. - start-up focused on new solutions to enhance the way people connect

Rifiniti - SaaS for real estate data analytics and business intelligence

Bounce Imaging - imaging and sensor platforms to help first responders "preview" what lies ahead

VitaThreads - early-stage medical device company for advancement of cell therapy

BioSignostix - pocket-sized hand-held device enables real-time diagnosis of Small Fiber Neuropathy (SFN)

GelSight, Inc. - MIT spinout offers a handheld device that can be used in the field or on the shop floor to analyze nearly any surface

Thank you to our screening judges and mentors!

Screening Judges:Andy Goloboy, CPA, Lori Jones, Ed Ross, Ed Leary, MaryLou Wakimura, David Graves-Witherell, and Brian Dingman
Mentors: Kuangshin Tai, Associate, Wolf Greenfield; Mike Pomianek, Shareholder, Wolf Greenfield; Andrea Merin, Associate, Wolf Greenfield; Darlene Flaig, Founder, Product Solutions Int'l, Inc.; Bill Contente, Partner, Gesmer Updegrove; Jerry Shapiro, President and CEO, Fem-Medical LLC; Anderson Duff, Associate, Wolf Greenfield; Edmund Walsh, Shareholder, Wolf Greenfield; Russ Schlossbach, Partner, Gesmer Updegrove; Peter Stecher, Partner, Gesmer Updegrove; David Thibodeau, Patent Attorney, Cesari and McKenna, LLP; Peter Moldave, Partner, Gesmer Updegrove.

Paul Horn


Paul Horn is an independent consultant and college instructor specializing in business communication skills—for rocket pitches, business plan presentations, media presentations, interviews and other events.  He works with managers and executives at companies in a variety of industries—national or international companies like TJ Max, Johnson and Johnson, Fidelity, and Parsons Brinckerhoff among them. He also devotes pro bono time to a number of small non-profit organizations helping individuals and teams develop more skill and confidence with speeches and other presentations.   As a college instructor, Paul works with both undergraduate and MBA students at Babson College and has been a guest lecturer or adjunct instructor at Brandeis University, Boston University, Northeastern University and Pine Manor College.  For the past 8 years, Paul has also coached the finalists in the annual business plan competition at B.U.’s Institute of Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (ITEC). In all this work Paul draws on his background as a professional actor and narrator (in film, television, radio and corporate media productions) as well as his earlier career in government and community development. Paul serves on both the local and national boards of SAG-AFTRA, the recently merged union of broadcasters and performance artists, and is an active member of the Massachusetts Production Coalition and the Trainers Roundtable.

2013 Esteemed Judging Team

Every year an esteemed panel of judges are hand selected to score the five-minute presentations. This year's panel includes Mark A. Lester, Managing General Partner, Provenance Venture Partners, LLC; Sandra Glucksmann Ph.D., Senior Vice President of Research and Development at Cerulean Pharma Inc.; Pete Sliwkowski, Launchpad Venture Group and V.P., Products at Vuuch; Jonathan D. Draluck, Partner at Gesmer Updegrove; and Janice Vatland, Shareholder at Wolf Greenfield

Alexandra Glucksman


Alexandra Glucksmann, Ph.D., Senior Vice President of Research and Development at Cerulean Pharma

Alexandra Glucksmann, Ph.D., is currently Senior Vice President of Research and Development at Cerulean Pharma, which she joined at its founding. Cerulean Pharma is a clinical-stage company developing innovative nanopharmaceutical tumor-targeting products.  Prior to joining Cerulean in 2006, she spent 13 years at Millennium Pharmaceuticals which she joined in 1993 as one of its first scientists. At Millennium, she held a series of positions with increasing responsibility, ultimately becoming Vice President of all platform technology groups before moving into a senior role in strategic program management and operations. In this role, she worked closely with the CEO and led company-wide process improvement initiatives and participated in business development and M&A efforts.

During her tenure at Millennium, Alexandra was critical in helping Millennium evolve from a genomics research-focused organization to a fully integrated pharmaceuticals company with products on the market.  Her division played an integral role in the numerous Millennium-large pharma collaborations, which generated over $1.8 billion in funding for the company. She serves on the Board of Directors of Taconic Farms and is the Chair of the Board of Women Entrepreneurs in Science and Technology (WEST). She is also a member of the Advisory Council of the Harvard Partners Center for Personalized Genetic Medicine. Alexandra was a post-doctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and holds a Ph.D. with honors from the University of Chicago.

Janice A. Vatland


Janice A. Vatland, Shareholder, Wolf Greenfield and Sacks, P.C.

Janice Vatland specializes in strategic patent portfolio development and management in the areas of biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. With over 10 years of experience, she has worked with a number of clients to tailor their patent protection based on business objectives and competitor activities. She counsels clients of all sizes, including universities, startups, and smaller and mid-sized companies.

Janice also has experience in European opposition, reissue, and reexamination proceedings; applying for Patent Term Extensions and Supplementary Protection Certificates; requesting reconsideration of Patent Term Adjustment; and biosimilar/biobetter issues. She has specific expertise in obtaining patent protection for a wide range of technologies including antibody, transgenic, and sequencing technologies; particle and biologic-based delivery systems; immune modulating therapeutics; and new medical uses and formulations of known compositions. 

Mark A. Lester


Mark A. Lester, Managing General Partner, Provenance Venture Partners, LLC

Mark A Lester has over 25 years of leadership, management, strategic business development and operations experience, including 17 years of experience in entrepreneurial services and technology development and delivery in the technology and life sciences industries. Over the past 9 years, his venture investment-related responsibilities have evolved from that of senior executive for venture-backed start-ups to his current role as Managing General Partner of Provenance Venture Partners, a pre-seed to mezzanine stage venture investment firm. He currently serves on the board of SiGNa Chemistry, Passport Systems and Trophos Energy.

Mark received a B.S.E. in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering from the University of Michigan, a Masters in Management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management, and was certified Chief Engineer of Navy Nuclear Propulsion Plants while serving as a U.S. Navy Nuclear Submarine Officer.

Jonathan D. Draluck


Jonathan D. Draluck, Partner, Gesmer Updegrove, LLP

Jonathan D. Draluck began advising start-ups 15 years ago, ultimately taking numerous competitive telecom providers public.  He then led the legal function of a Boston-area VoIP carrier whose business grew from 20 to 120 countries.  He next spent four years in Israel representing emerging life sciences and tech companies and negotiating software licenses with the world's largest automotive, communications, electronics, software and general retail companies.  Since joining Gesmer Updegrove, Jonathan has been a mentor at MassChallenge and a frequent blogger on topics related to start-ups.

Peter Sliwkowski


Peter Sliwkowski, Vice President, Products, Vuuch

Peter Sliwkowski is a highly accomplished software product development and product line executive with extensive experience leading teams in design, development, version release, and marketing of award-winning solutions. He is currently Vice President of Product Development at Vuuch. Peter previously was a long-time executive at Progress Software, a leading enterprise software vendor, and had over a 20+ year career helping grow Progress to company with over $500M in revenue. Peter also is an active member of LaunchPad Ventures, an early stage angel investment company, involved in the evaluation, mentoring, and investing in startup companies in the Boston area. Peter is a graduate of the University of Vermont in Electrical Engineering.

Contest Timeline

Entry deadline

Jan 18, 2013

Technology entrepreneurs

First Round Screening

Jan 18-22, 2013

All entrants

Finals notification

Jan 23, 2013

Selected finalists


Jan 23 - Feb 11, 2013


Pitch Contest

Feb 12, 2013

Open to public

Application Deadline

Application is online. The deadline is January 18, 2013. Click here for the application form.

Process / Guidelines

The Pitch Contest consists of two rounds of selection.  In the first round, applications are evaluated anonymously by a group of area business leaders.  Ten finalists will be selected from among the applicants and invited to compete at the Venture Forum’s final meeting of the season, scheduled for 5:30 on February 12, 2013. 

In the final round, each company will be given five minutes to pitch their business to a panel of expert judges and the Forum’s audience who will evaluate the entrepreneur’s presentation skills and overall performance. Each presentation will be followed by a two minute open discussion between the judges and the entrepreneur.  The judges will then rate each business and the audience will do the same.  Once all the pitches are complete, the judges will select the winner of the top prize in a brief and closed deliberation.  An audience prize will be awarded based on the voting results.

In both rounds of the Pitch Contest, companies will be evaluated based on the following criteria:


We encourage you to view past competition videos to see the winning pitches. In the left menu, click on past years to find the video files.

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Last modified: July 29, 2013 11:16:44