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loudoun economic development innovate loco

Recently, the Loudoun Department of Economic Development, in conjunction with the Mason Enterprise Center, hosted iNNOVATE LoCo: A Tech Pitch Competition. The event, held during Loudoun Small Business Week, brought six semi-finalists to the AOL campus in Dulles to pitch their tech startups to a panel of industry leaders.

The companies covered a range of ideas and showcased Loudoun County's entrepreneurial spirit. Handpressions, presented by Carla Valdes, is an app that allows parents to take digital handprints of their children and turn them into treasured artistic keepsakes. On the other end of the spectrum, Paul Ratcliffe's Disputely aims to save time and money by allowing people to mediate disputes online instead of in a courtroom.

Mary Ann Buchanan's RIA Match serves a niche market of financial advisors. Her website matches financial advisors with firms or individuals who want to buy, sell, merge, or join practices. BusyConf is Ryan McGeary's brainchild, and works to make conferences easier for attendees and organizers. BusyConf aims to do away with those paper schedules and move everything to a mobile platform. They also handle ticket sales, networking and more.

Each presenter gave a 15-minute pitch to an audience and a panel of judges. They explained their technology, gave a demonstration and answered a series of follow-up questions. At the end of the program, the panel awarded first and second-place prizes, along with checks and  additional awards packages, including legal services from international law firm Holland & Knight, and a credit toward office space at the Mason Enterprise Center in Leesburg.

Taking home the second-place prize was Eugene Evans of GoPop.TV, a social networking app. Evans calls the technology behind his app "Spotify for television." GoPop.TV is able to identify what show you're watching and instantly connect you to your friends and other fans so you can talk about it as you're watching it. GoPop.TV's technology lets you comment and see what other people are saying even if you don't watch the show live. You can be a part of a community on your own schedule.

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It was a safety-related app, however, that took the grand prize home. SafeLife is Morgan Wright and Bonnie VanAlstyne's company. The duo brings their combined 50 years of public safety and Fortune 500 experience to a mobile app and website that localizes and personalizes news about community safety. SafeLife doesn't just rely on news to push out its information. They also gather data directly from law enforcement agencies, social media and user-generated content, giving users a complete picture of any safety concerns around them. Wright is very involved in the Loudoun startup community; he presented last year at 1 Million Cups, a weekly event held at the Mason Enterprise Center.

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To stay up-to-date on all of the small business events in Loudoun County, be sure to visit the calendar on LoudounSourceLink.org.

To view all of the photos from iNNOVATE LoCo and the rest of Loudoun's Small Business Week events and meetings, visit our Facebook page.