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Austin-based ClearBlade won the first place prize of $100,000 in the Comet Competition contest sponsored by Ingram Micro.
Other Austin-based winners included re:3D, Sempulse and The Mentor Method.
The Comet Competition, funded by IT distributor Ingram Micro, set out to uncover, fund and bring to market the next wave of business to business software innovators in the region. The finalists were chosen based on a number of criteria including future vision, potential in the channel and ecosystem readiness.
ClearBlade has created a platform for companies to deploy Internet of Things solutions to make their operations safer, more efficient and easier to manage.
“It’s great when a company like Ingram recognizes brilliance,” said Eric Simone, Founder and CEO of ClearBlade. “For me it’s more about the recognition and the partnership with Ingram than the cash prize. The 100k will not move the needle for the company, but the partnership with Ingram Micro will.”
ClearBlade has a standard system for deploying Internet of Things, also known as IoT, solutions. It has customers in the railroad industry and real estate.
“Customers need solutions that are easily delivered,” Simone said. This partnership with Ingram Micro will bring its technology to many more industries and companies, he said.
ClearBlade brings hardware and software together to provide Internet of Things solutions that can be easily instituted by customers, Simone said. It’s platform is like getting a Sonos sound system delivered to a residence. It’s easy to setup and put into action.
“IoT is nothing like that today,” Simone said. “But the combination of ClearBlade and Ingram Micro will now give customers out of the box solutions when it comes to IOT.”
The Mentor Method has developed a proprietary algorithm that matches mentors and mentees within a company with a focus on creating and maintaining greater diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Ingram Micro is partnering with The Mentor Method to use its technology in its business. Sempulse has created a smart patch that can be attached behind the ear and it can quickly and easily read vital signs in emergency situations. And re:3d has created large scale 3-D printers that use recycled plastic as feedstock.
Ingram Micro also held competitions in Boston and Tel Aviv, Israel. All three of the grand prize winners will be showcased on the mainstage at Ingram Micro’s Cloud Summit, which takes place in San Diego from March 11 – 13.
Fortune 500 Company Ingram Micro is the world’s largest hardware and software distribution system with revenue of more than $54 billion annually, said Michael Kenney, vice president of strategy and business development for Ingram Micro.
“One of our big initiatives is to drive programs to help early stage companies and entrepreneurs to realize the value of going to market with a partner ecosystem,” Kenney said.
“As a business, we’ve been doing this for a long time,” he said. Now Ingram Micro is looking at it from an entrepreneurial perspective, he said.
“How do we help embrace these different entrepreneurs – Comet was an approach for us to reach these early stage ecosystems to leverage some of our assets,” he said.
Ingram Micro initially partnered with Mass Challenge, one of the biggest accelerators in the world, to create the competition to help find the next great business to business software companies, Kenney said.
“The competition was an overwhelming success,” he said.
In addition to Austin, the Comet Competition held events in Boston and Israel with 370 applications across these three cities, Kenney said. The judges narrowed the field of competition down to 15 finalists in each city. Those startups then pitched for cash prizes.
The winners in each city received a cash prize of $100,000 and the runners up got a go to market package including tickets to Ingram Micro’s cloud summit and introductions to thousands of reseller partners, Kenney said.
“Some of these technologies were flat out amazing,” Kenney said. “Some of these technologies we can help commercialize”
In February, Ingram Micro held its pitch competition in Austin at the WeWork Barton Springs location.
Ingram Micro, based in Irvine, Calif., is looking at developing its own accelerator program with six to eight more global events with $2.5 million in cash prizes, Kenney said. The accelerator could be based in Austin, he said.
“We want to keep the excitement going and maintain the momentum,” Kenney said. “We are literally there to help companies we think we can help commercialize faster.”