At Change Ventures we strongly support initiatives that empower young entrepreneurs to build their networks, skills and businesses. One such program was founded by our General Partner Harry Huge — Network Globally Act Locally (NGAL). NGAL is an innovative program supported by the Harry and Reba Huge Foundation that brings together teams of entrepreneurs from five universities across United States and Estonia: College of Charleston, The Citadel, Nebraska Wesleyan, University of Tartu and Tallinn University of Technology.
This year the American student teams traveled to Estonia to spend three weeks developing their business ideas, and prototyping products and services together with their Estonian peers. The event culminated on 23 June 2017 when ten teams pitched their final ideas to a jury at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina.
I was joined on the jury by Hugh C. Lane, Jr. (Chairman of the Board — Bank of South Carolina), Ed Steiner (Partner — Squire Patton Boggs, Cincinnati Ohio), Steve Swanson (Inside Director — Snapcap LLC, Charleston SC), Brent Comstock (CEO — BCom Solutions LLC, Auburn Nebraska) and Marki Tihhonova-Kreek (Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Estonia, Washington DC).
The teams competing for fame as well as cash awards of $3,000 for the winner, $2,000 for second place, and $1,000 for third place included: Columb Sailing Group, MyPetTrax, Cody, Aude Opus, Moday, Wisdom Mothers, Identical Draw, Sidekik, MyGameOn, Forget-Me-Not.
From these excellent projects our panel of judges chose the top pitches by each of us allocating a hypothetical $100,000 between our top three choices. This year it was a full sweep by the Estonian teams: #1. Cody — Kaspar Kuus, CEO (mobile application that teaches computer coding to 8–16 year olds through innovative games and puzzles), #2 Coulomb Sailing Group — Triin Teppo, CEO (plasma based satellite deorbiting technology to eliminate space debris), and #3 Aude Opus — Timmu Tollimägi, CEO (hydrogen based power storage solution for small renewable energy plants).
Congratulations to all of the great teams that took part. It was a real pleasure meeting you and I look forward to hearing about all your success stories in the future!
Change Ventures is a seed-stage venture capital fund backing ambitious Baltic founders. We invest primarily in B2B and SaaS technology startups. Find us at changeventures.com.