Product that Identifies Mold for Indoor Farmers Wins Annual Elevator Pitch Contest

PROVIDENCE – (Nov. 2, 2017) – An image-based software product that would enable indoor farmers to detect mold on plants at an early stage, proposed by David Katzevich, an undergraduate student at Brown University, won the annual statewide Elevator Pitch Contest sponsored by the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition.

Katzevich, a senior studying entrepreneurship, and 10 other presenters together took home $1,000 in cash prizes. 

Katzevich, who developed his idea after speaking with local farmers and hydroponic shop owners, said that if technically feasible the product, called FungEye, could be an industry-changer since currently there is no reliable way to detect mold at an early stage.

“It takes courage to stand up in front of a roomful of strangers and explain why your idea is a good one," said Competition Co-chair Peggy Farrell, partner with the Hinckley Allen law firm. "The 33 people who participated in the Elevator Pitch Contest, each of whom got valuable feedback from our judges, are to be congratulated.”

Co-chair Anthony Mangiarelli, partner at the accounting firm of KLR, added, "The range of creative business ideas presented shows the strong entrepreneurial drive that exists in Rhode Island."

The twelfth annual Rhode Island Elevator Pitch Contest, held at Tech Collective in Providence, drew an audience of nearly 100 who cheered on the presenters, each of whom had 90 seconds to present their idea. Judging was based on the clarity and persuasiveness of the presentations.

Second place went to Jay Khurana, also a Brown University student, for his pitch of CrossCheck, a technology for validating the content of online news accounts.
Other winners were:

  • Nathan Housberg, a Brown University student, pitched Mini-Washer-Dryer, an inexpensive laundry device for dorm rooms, small apartments, and hotel/motel rooms.
  • Roja Garimella and Rose Mangiarotti, students at Alpert Medical School, pitched ReliaBra, a sticky bra featuring replaceable adhesives that last longer than products currently available.
  • Marjorie Pickard, a University of Rhode Island student, who pitched Posture Monitoring Smart Shirt, a garment designed to reduce workplace injuries by analyzing the curvature of the spine and the shoulders and providing feedback through a smartphone application.
  • Daniel Klotz, a Brown University student, who pitched DNA Methylation for Immune Profiling, an analytical tool kit that will speed cancer screening in humans. 
  • Mindy Levine, of Sharon, Mass., presented The Party Elements, customizable science parties for audiences of all ages, from preschool aged children to adults.
  • Connor Lohman, a Brown University student, pitched Bandage Window, a patented bandaging device designed to sequester wounds while allowing vapor to reach the wound and preventing liquid or other contaminants from contacting the site, thereby enhancing wound recovery.
  • Michelle Petersen, a Brown University student, pitched TextUp, a software product that will enable social workers to document their client meetings quickly. 
  • Linden Wyatt, a University of Rhode Island student, pitched Optera Diagnostics, an automated instrument that will provide surgeons and clinicians with real-time information about tissue from biopsy and surgery procedures. 
Judging the contest were:

  • David Bedard, President, CompNet Insurance Solutions
  • Jim Grace, President and CEO, InsureMyTrip
  • Brent Ouellette, Vice President of Vendor Operations, Envision Technology Advisors
  • Cindy Reed, Executive Coach, International Center For Executive Options
  • Barbara Schoenfeld, Managing Director, Saffron, LLC
  • Dan Sullivan, Senior Account Executive, Salesforce
Sponsors of the 2018 Competition

Lead sponsors of the 2018 Competition are Bryant University, Everhope Foundation, Hinckley Allen, Integrated Media Group, KLR, Materials Science Associates, MedMates, and Sprout.

Also sponsoring the 2018 Competition are Bank of America, Barlow, Josephs & Holmes, Ltd., Betaspring, Center for Women and Enterprise, Envision Technology Advisors, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses at CCRI, Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, Hatch Entrepreneurial Center, Roger Williams University, Social Enterprise Greenhouse, and Tech Collective.

Additional sponsors include AAA Northeast, Bank Rhode Island, BankNewport, The Beacon Mutual Insurance Company, Business Development Company, Cherrystone Angel Group, Classic Hassocks, Deepwater Wind, Delta Dental of Rhode Island, Dimeo Construction Company, The Idea Turbine, InsureMyTrip, The Moore Company, Navigant Credit Union, Newport Biodiesel, Pawtucket Credit Union, Richard Carriere, Savings Institute Bank and Trust, Slater Technology Fund, StormTree, Teknor Apex, and The Washington Trust Company.
About the Competition

Established in 2000, the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition has been recognized as one of the top 40 business plan competitions in the country. To date, it has awarded more than $2.3 million in prizes to developing companies across many industries. 

The Competition is free and open to everyone age 18 or over whether or not they already have started a business. Complete information, including rules, application procedures, guidelines, and business plan resources, is available at