Dragon's Den at CompTIA ChannelCon: Five Will Enter, One Gets the Prize
The Roman satirist Juvenal famously derided the unwashed masses of Rome for preferring two things above all else: bread and circuses. Or if you'd like a more contemporary reference, the tyrannical central power that throws deadly gladiatorial games for the shocked amusement of the repressed masses in The Hunger Games is named Panem, from the Latin panem et circenses ... meaning "bread and circuses."
All of this is relevant this week because we're just days away from CompTIA's annual ChannelCon IT business bash, which is mixing in a little callow spectacle this year by hosting a ChannelCon spinoff of the popular global reality TV brand Dragon's Den (known as Shark Tank in the U.S.). The format will be familiar to many: Hopeful self-made entrepreneurs pitch their business plans to a panel of jaded investors, who mock them for sport.
OK, once in a while the investors will also commend the chutzpah of the their brazen prey and perhaps even compete with each other to enlist them in a business partnership. The ChannelCon Dragon's Den is somewhat smaller in scope, with the participants jockeying for the decidedly modest seed capital cash prize of $5,000. It's not exactly on the level of enlisting Mark Cuban as your angel investor, but five grand is five grand.
The ChannelCon competitors are all tech entrepreneurs based in Chicago, and CompTIA officials, at least, believe they've landed a worthy crew that will be pitching some very sharp tech innovations (and getting cut down to size, no doubt, by the judging panel's very sharp razor wits — let's all remember that making fun of others is one of life's most piquant pleasures).
CompTIA executive Kelly Ricker said in a statement to media that the ChannelCon has succeeded in reruiting some of the "brightest minds" of the Chicago tech scene. "Each of these startups has a great vision of where they want to take their companies," Ricker said. "I fully expect them to wow the judges and the audience."
The five bright ideas that will be featured are as follows:
? A next-generation telephony service that gives more control to the customer, allowing them to become their own carrier.
? An automated lighting and monitoring system that utilizes cloud-based data analytics to prevent and detect falls in the older adult population.
? An on-demand personal security and protection service.
? A customized, modular speaker system that puts customers in control of the shape, sound and style of their speakers.
? A software application that helps reduce the time and cost associated with understanding and making decisions on enterprise text-based data, specifically for compliance, lawsuits, fraud investigations and employee activity.
The four judges who will destroy — er, evaluate the competitors are hedge fund director Mark Achler, tech investor Troy Henikoff, tech CEO Quy Nguyen, and godfather entrepreneur Howard Tullman. The ChannelCon Dragon's Den spectacular is set to kick off at 11:45 a.m. on Aug. 4, and ChannelCon attendees are invited to participate in voting to determine the winning startup.