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Semi-finalists selected for 2017 Rochester Venture Challenge

Rochester Business Journal
March 17, 2017

The 2017 Rochester Venture Challenge competition has selected eight semi-finalists from a pool of 35 companies, officials announced Friday.

 The eight early stage companies are competing for over $40,000 in cash and prizes. 

 "As usual, the selection committee had a very difficult time picking the eight semi-finalists from the many great companies that applied this year," said James Senall, president of High Tech Rochester Inc. in a statement.  "It's clear that tech entrepreneurship continues to be on the rise here in our region—as evidenced by this strong field of contestants, as well as the many other new entrepreneurial activities taking place in the region."

 Five finalists for the competition are to be determined March 31. Finalists then will go on to present their pitches to a panel of judges April 27 at the Hyatt Regency Rochester, officials said. The event is open to the public.

 The eight semi-finalist firms and their leaders are:

  • BeeFluent, Zack Bessler;
  • Empire Medicinals, Qiaosong George Zheng;
  • House at Work, Peter Schick;
  • HZ Innovations, Greyson Watkins;
  • Impact Earth Inc., Robert Putney Jr. and Elizabeth Carey;
  • MicroEra Power, Ellie Rusling;
  • Primary Book Club LLC, Erin Witmer; and
  • ThermApparel, Kurtis Kracke.

Each of the five finalists will receive some combination of cash or services prizes. The first-place prize includes $25,000 cash, HTR.  said 

The Rochester Venture Challenge is a combined effort by community organizations HTR, Digital Rochester Inc., the Entrepreneurs Network, Excell Partners Inc., Nazareth College School of Management, Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Rochester.

Follow Kerry Feltner on Twitter: @KerryFeltner

(c) 2017 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail 

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