2020 AlphaLab Gear Hardware Cup at the Chicago Connectory

Posted On: 3/26/2020

  • On March 10, the Chicago Connectory welcomed back AlphaLab Gear for their annual Alphalab Gear Hardware Cup.

    The AlphaLab Gear Hardware Cup is a pitch competition for early-stage hardware startups. There are six regional hardware cups throughout the U.S. in Chicago, IL; San Jose, California; Raleigh, North Carolina; Washington DC; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Boston, Massachusetts.

    The winner of this year's regional competition would receive $3,000 cash, patent preparation and filing, a three-month membership to the Chicago Connectory, and a spot in the final international competition for the opportunity to win $50,000!

    Participants had three minutes to pitch their product, followed by a three minute Q&A session with the judges. The judges for the year's competition were Logan Jackson, Associate at Anzu Partners; Rafiq Ahmed, Managing Director at Dipalo Ventures; Bill Fienup, co-founder of mHUB; Bess Goodfellow, Principal at Hyde Park Angels; and our very own Fermin Fernandez, Managing Director of the Chicago Connectory.

The first company to pitch was Autoban AI. Autoban AI provides state-of-the-art sensing hardware to trucking companies. Their hardware makes normal semi-trucks, smart by allowing shipping companies to better manage fuel usage, safety, general operations, and overall logistics.

Next up was Xena. Xena reimagined women's steel-toe work boots. Most women's workboots were men's boots with some pink added to the design. Xena allows women to transition from job sites to client meetings and everything in between.

Careband then presented their solution for people living with dementia. Their wearable wristband provides real-time location monitoring, AI-based analysis of activity patterns to help identify changes in health condition, and predictive analytics and daily reports. Their goal is to reduce death and other injuries related to wandering and enhancing the quality of life of those with dementia.

Next to pitch was Pivot Materials; Pivot Materials manufactures plastic-like substitute materials using biomaterials like bamboo and rice hulls. Their products are light-weight, durable, cost-competitive, and sustainable. Their products can be used in packaging, consumer products, and in the automotive industry.

Alerje then presented their alternative to the epi-pen for those that suffer from allergies. Their product is a smartphone case that holds an epinephrine auto-injector, once used their associated app alerts selected contacts with the time and location of treatment. The convenience of Alerje allows users to be proactive about their health and improve their quality of life.

Last to present was Inductive Intelligence. Using the power of smart-induction technology, Inductive Intelligence is changing the way that people heat/cook their food and beverages and power the things they use every day. Their technology also allows the manufacturer and retailer to collect data from the packaging itself, transmitting it to and through the consumer's mobile device at the time of usage.

After the final pitch and Q&A, the judges stepped aside and deliberated, during this time the audience was encouraged to vote for their favorite product. The audience favorite was Alerje - they won a 3-month membership to mHUB, a Bosch toolkit, and gift-card. The judges then announced the winner of the 2020 Alphalab Gear Hardware cup - Inductive Intelligence! The Inductive Intelligence team won $3,000, a 3-month membership to the Chicago Connectory, and a spot in the international Hardware Cup finals.

Thank you to the incredible startups, judges, and Alphalab Gear for another awesome Hardware Cup!

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