PRESS RELEASES

Robert Olivier of GrubTubs shows a sample food scrap collector to the 2016 [Re]verse Pitch judges. Judges pictured, from front to back: Zoe Schlag, Kyle Ballarta, and Rosa Rios Valdez. Photo credit: Michael Knox

Robert Olivier of GrubTubs shows a sample food scrap collector to the 2016 [Re]verse Pitch judges. Judges pictured, from front to back: Zoe Schlag, Kyle Ballarta, and Rosa Rios Valdez. Photo credit: Michael Knox

GrubTubs wins $10,000 at the 2016 [Re]Verse Pitch Competition!

$10,000 innovation prize given for innovative livestock feed idea

December 9, 2016

The second annual [Re]Verse Pitch Competition wrapped up on Tuesday night with the $10,000 innovation prize going to social entrepreneur team GrubTubs. Their winning pitch was to use inedible canned goods from Central Texas Food Bank to make affordable, high protein livestock feed.

The [Re]Verse Pitch Competition is a one-of-a-kind social innovation program to turn valuable raw materials that are currently leaving local businesses, nonprofits and institutions as waste into the foundation of new social enterprises.

On Dec. 6, eight finalists pitched their repurposing business ideas to recycle or reuse byproduct materials from six participating Austin businesses and non-profits. Austin Creative Reuse, Central Texas Food Bank, In N Out Burger, Half Price Books, LIVESTRONG Foundation and the City of Austin Transportation Department pitched various types of materials currently being discarded as waste at the competition’s opening event in October during SXSW Eco. Entrepreneurs were inspired to look at these waste streams as potential profitable ventures—creating jobs and revenue for the Austin economy while reducing waste and helping the environment.

The GrubTubs team plans to use the winnings to seed their new social enterprise, beginning with purchasing the equipment needed to shred inedible canned goods so they can get to the food. The company then plans to feed the contents of the canned goods to grubs (larvae from the Black Soldier Fly). These grubs can eat anything and chickens love to eat grubs. By upcycling expired food into animal feed, GrubTubs offers Austin businesses affected by the Universal Recycling Ordinance an innovative way to recover nutrients in conjunction with a growing compost industry.

“As Farm to Table has become vital for local farmers, GrubTubs goes Table to Farm by reducing feed costs for local farms. This could be a game changer, all because these hungry grubs can use excess nutrients that are no longer fit for human consumption. Now your donations to the food bank will benefit our local chicken farmers as well,” said GrubTubs team member Robert Olivier.

The second place winning team, GRUB, also presented a business plan for repurposing expired canned goods. This team, led by Melissa Meyer was awarded a combination of business education prizes valued at $750.

Austin Cubed, presented by Cory Skuldt of the Bard Sustainability MBA Team, proposed to turn vinyl street banners and mesh plastic bags into seating cubes. The colorful cube-shaped seats received the People’s Choice honorable mention award.

Judging was based on business viability, sustainability impact, economic impact and social impact, along with effectiveness of pitch delivery.

The remaining five finalists also made impressive pitches for a variety of business concepts:

  • Charles Bradbury- Pulp Fashion | Repurposing: Vinyl street banners, mesh plastic bags, & fabric samples
  • Gabriel Rocha- ACL Survival Bags | Repurposing: Vinyl street banners
  • Re:3D- 3D Printing from Post-Consumer Waste | Repurposing: Mesh Plastic Bags
  • Rowan Rodriguez- [RE]Charge | Repurposing: Vinyl street banners
  • Team E- Recover Austin | Repurposing: Vinyl street banners

The [Re]Verse Pitch Competition is a collaboration between the City of Austin, the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development, Impact Hub Austin and the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service with additional support from a wide variety of community partners. Learn more at www.ReversePitch.org.

City Announces 2016 [Re]Verse Pitch Finalists

Public Invited to Vote at Final [Re]Verse Pitch Competition

November 28, 2016

Austin, TX- The City of Austin announces eight finalists for the 2016 [Re]Verse Pitch Competition. Competing social entrepreneurs are in the running to receive a $10,000 Innovation Prize for the top idea for using discarded materials from existing businesses to create new products or services. The competition is designed to inspire profitable new ventures while keeping valuable discards out of landfills.

The [Re]Verse Pitch Competition helps turn castoffs from local businesses, nonprofits and institutions into the foundation of new social enterprises. Using byproducts as material for a new business creates jobs, improves the local economy and helps the City achieve its goal of reaching Zero Waste by 2040.
 
The second annual [Re]Verse Pitch Competition launched Oct. 11 when 150 social entrepreneurs and members of the public gathered during SXSW Eco to hear pitches from Austin businesses and nonprofits with raw materials up for grabs.

Austin Creative Reuse, Central Texas Food Bank, In N Out Burger, Half Price Books, LIVESTRONG Foundation and the City of Austin Transportation Department pitched their byproducts at the event. A video recording of the first event is available online. 

Since Oct 11, entrepreneurs have been working with mentors and advisors to craft and refine their business ideas for byproduct repurposing. Finalists were selected by a panel of judges and additional points were awarded for the uniqueness of material(s) selected.

To win, entrepreneurs will need to effectively deliver their pitch at the Dec. 6. finale. Details include:

  • Final Competition: Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016, 6 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. at Atlassian, 303 Colorado St. #1600, Austin, TX 78701.
  • FREE: Event is open to the public
  • RSVP here.

On Dec. 6, finalists’ pitches will be scored by the panel of judges who will consider the business venture’s viability, sustainability, economic and social impact, and how effectively the entrepreneurs deliver their pitch.

Audience members at the final event will also have a chance to vote for their favorite idea. The public is invited to view the finalist’s ideas in advance by visiting http://reversepitch.org.

Three awards will be given out at the finale:

  • A grand prize of $10,000 and free co-working days at WeWork will be presented to the judges’ top pick
  • A second place prize of a spot in the 2017 FastForward entrepreneur training program and 2017 Small Business Festival pass from the City of Austin Small Business Program
  • An honorable mention “People’s Choice Award” presented to the audience’s top pick at the final event.

Finalists are:

  • Bard Sustainability MBA Team, Austin Cubed-Street Banner Line -  Repurposing: Vinyl street banners and mesh plastic bags
  • Charles Bradbury, Pulp Fashion - Repurposing: Vinyl street banners, mesh plastic bags and fabric samples
  • Gabriel Rocha, ACL Survival Bags - Repurposing: Vinyl street banners
  • Melissa Meyer, GRUB - Repurposing: Inedible Canned Goods
  • Quinault Childs, GrubTubs: Table to Farm - Repurposing: Inedible canned goods
  • Re:3D, 3D Printing from Post-Consumer Waste - Repurposing: Mesh Plastic Bags
  • Rowan Rodriguez, [RE]Charge - Repurposing: Vinyl street banners
  • Team E, Austin’s Local Tarps - Repurposing: Vinyl street banners

The [Re]Verse Pitch Competition is a collaboration between the City of Austin, U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development, Impact Hub Austin and the UT Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship, Growth and Renewal with additional support from a wide variety of community partners. 

Austin’s [Re]Verse Pitch Awarded Excellence in Economic Development

Honors are from the International Economic Development Council

October 5, 2016

AUSTIN, TX – The City of Austin, TX, received a Gold Excellence in Economic Development Award for its 2015 [Re]Verse Pitch Competitionfrom the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).

The honor was presented at an awards ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 27, during the IEDC Annual Conference, which was held Sept. 25-28, in Cleveland, OH.

“On behalf of the IEDC board of directors and Excellence in Economic Development Awards Advisory Committee, congratulations to the City of Austin. Not only did they work to provide a necessary service to their community; but also, their participation in the awards program sheds light on their stellar projects which other communities can now use as a benchmark.”  - Barry Matherly, CEcD, FM, IEDC 2016 Board Chair, President & CEO of the Greater Richmond Partnership.

The [Re]Verse Pitch Competition is a social innovation program to help turn valuable raw materials that are currently leaving local businesses, nonprofits and institutions as waste into the foundation of new social enterprises. Local entrepreneurs hear pitches from the businesses with these materials, then work with mentors and advisors over several weeks to develop and refine repurposing business ideas. At the closing event, finalists pitch their new business ideas to compete for the top Innovation Prizes that help them start these new ventures. The 2015 competition led to the founding of Brewnola, a start-up that will repurpose spent brewery grain into granola snacks.

The 2016 competition is about to get underway. Six businesses and non-profits will pitch their byproduct materials to competing entrepreneurs at the opening event in Austin on October 11, 2016, 6 – 8 p.m. Prospective entrepreneurs, the public and anyone interested in the competition may RSVP to the opening pitch event at ReversePitch.org. Competitors will receive guidance from mentors and technical advisors as they formulate a business plan and test their concepts for viability. Finalists will pitch in hopes of winning one of the innovation prizes at the closing event on December 6, 2016.

The City of Austin’s Recycling Economic Development Program works to attract, retain, and grow zero waste businesses and entrepreneurs in order to create local jobs and foster a resilient Zero Waste ecosystem in Central Texas. The program is a joint partnership between the Economic Development Department and Austin Resource Recovery.

IEDC's Excellence in Economic Development Awards recognize the world’s best economic development programs and partnerships, marketing materials and the year’s most influential leaders. These awards honor organizations and individuals for their efforts in creating positive change in urban, suburban and rural communities.

National Businesses, City Department and Local Non-profits Challenge Austin Entrepreneurs

City’s [Re]Verse Pitch awards $10,000 for best initiatives using waste materials to create new businesses

September 20, 2016

AUSTIN, TEXAS – Austin’s second annual [Re]Verse Pitch Competition will award a $10,000 innovation prize to an entrepreneur with the best new business idea. What’s the catch? The new venture must create products or services using discarded materials from existing Austin businesses. The competition is designed to inspire viable new ventures while keeping valuable discards out of landfills.

Six businesses and non-profits will pitch their byproduct materials to competing entrepreneurs at the opening event October 11, 2016, 6 – 8 p.m, at Atlassian’s downtown Austin office at 303 Colorado St #1600. This year’s material suppliers and the items in need of reuse solutions include:

  • In-N-Out Burgers: Mesh plastic bags
  • Austin Creative Reuse: Fabric sample books
  • LIVESTRONG Foundation: Yellow wristbands in out-of-date packaging
  • Central Texas Food Bank: Inedible canned goods
  • Half Price Books: Books, records and other media
  • City of Austin Transportation Department: Vinyl street banners

In addition to $10,000 for the top initiative, a second place winner will receive a free spot in the 2017 FastForward business accelerator and training program and a pass to the 2017 Small Business Festival.

“[Re]Verse Pitch is the type of collaboration between the public, private and non-profit sectors needed to reach Zero Waste as a community!  It’s exciting to see businesses in our community team up to work with Austin’s entrepreneurs to solve tough waste challenges through this innovative competition," said Austin Resource Recovery Director Bob Gedert.

Prospective entrepreneurs, the public and anyone interested in the competition may RSVP to the opening pitch event at ReversePitch.org. Competitors will receive guidance from mentors and technical advisors as they formulate a business plan and test their concepts for viability. Finalists will pitch in hopes of winning one of the innovation prizes at the closing event on December 6, 2016. The Competition is looking for volunteer mentors and advisors, and in-kind sponsors. Anyone interested in these opportunities can visit reversepitch.org/get-involved

The [Re]Verse Pitch Competition is a collaboration between the City of Austin, U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development, Impact Hub Austin and the UT Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship, Growth and Renewal, with additional support from a wide variety of community partners. 

Second Annual [Re]Verse Pitch Competition Accepting Applications

Opening event will be presented in partnership with SXSW Eco

The City of Austin has opened applications for businesses and institutions interested in pitching at the second annual [Re]Verse Pitch Competition.

The [Re]Verse Pitch Competition, a social innovation program, helps turn valuable raw materials that are currently leaving local businesses, nonprofits and institutions as waste into the foundation for new social enterprises. Entities that are consistently generating or collecting by-product, surplus, or other underutilized materials in Austin, Texas are invited to apply by August 31, 2016, to become [Re]Verse Material Suppliers. The application can be found here.

The opening event will include pitches to entrepreneurs from local businesses and nonprofits about the waste materials they generate but don’t use. Entrepreneurs get to hear the pitch and determine which materials they could put to higher and better use in a new business.

By participating, these organizations will get the chance to have the creative, entrepreneurial minds of the Austin community focus on solving their waste challenges. The best social enterprise ideas created by competing entrepreneurs will receive innovation prizes. Details on the prize will be announced in the coming months.

[Re]Verse Pitch launches Oct. 11 as part of SXSW Eco 2016, with an open call for social entrepreneurs to hear pitches from local businesses and nonprofits that have raw materials up for grabs.

The main events are free and open to the public:

Opening Pitch: Oct. 11, 6- 8 pm, 303 Colorado St.#1600
[Re]Verse Material Suppliers to pitch their byproduct materials to entrepreneurs as potential business opportunities.

Final Competition: Dec. 6. Location to be announced
[Re]Verse Pitch finalists to compete for the Innovation Prize.

The public and anyone interested in competing for the Innovation Prizes should RSVP here. Competing entrepreneurs will receive guidance as they formulate a business plan and test their concepts for viability.

Winners will be selected in December. Judging will be based on the business venture’s viability, sustainability impact, economic impact and social impact, along with how effectively the entrepreneurs delivered their pitch.

In addition to [Re]Verse Material Suppliers, the Competition is also seeking volunteer mentors and advisors. More information about all the opportunities to participate in the competition can be found here.

The [Re]Verse Pitch Competition is a collaboration between the City of Austin, U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development and Impact Hub Austin with additional support from a wide variety of community partners.

$10,000 Innovation Prize Awarded to [Re]verse Pitch Competition Winner

The first-ever [Re]Verse Pitch Competition awarded a $10,000 innovation prize to Austin resident Brandon Ward for his idea of turning spent grain, a byproduct from the brewing process, into “Brewnola” granola bars.

Ward is one of eight finalists who presented ideas on how to repurpose byproducts at the final competition Dec. 9 at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. He presented alongside two team members, Matt Miller and Ceschino Brooks de Vita, who are his classmates at the UT McCombs School of Business.

The winning pitch proposes to create a company that would pay employees $24 per hour, locally source ingredients for the granola bars, use compostable packaging, and donate a portion of proceeds to Austin-area homeless shelters.

“I'm not sure that we ever would have become aware of the environmental impact of spent beer grain if not for the Reverse Pitch competition,” Ward said. “The competition helped open our eyes to this problem and gave us the opportunity to solve it.  Hence, with help from the City of Austin, Brewnola has been born.”

Ward plans to use the prize funds to prototype the product and conduct market research before launching larger scale production and distribution.

In addition to inspiring entrepreneurs to look at waste as a profitable venture, this competition also served as a prototype for challenge prizes at the City of Austin. The City’s Office of Innovation is exploring how challenge prizes might be utilized as a tool for other public challenges in the future.

The [Re]Verse Pitch Competition is a one-of-a-kind social innovation program to turn valuable raw materials that are currently leaving local businesses, nonprofits and institutions as waste into the foundation of new social enterprises. The competition started in November when five local companies and institutions pitched byproduct materials to social entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs created business ideas using these byproducts.

The judging panel included Ray Brimble of Lynxs Group, Scott Collier of Pasadera Capital, Bob Gedert of Austin Resource Recovery, Zoe Schlag of Unltd USA, and Rosa Rios Valdez of Business and Community Lenders of Texas.

In addition to points from public voting, judging was based on business viability, sustainability impact, economic impact and social impact, along with effectiveness of pitch delivery.

Each of the seven finalists made impressive pitches for a variety of business concepts:

  • Sue Sende Cole, Working with Wicker (repurposing wicker baskets)
  • Santiago Diaz, Austin Building Materials Depository and Working Space (repurposing books, spent grain, vinyl banners, water proof clogs, canvas, and decorative glassware)
  • Joe Diffie, The Table to Bacon Feed Company (repurposing spent grain)
  • Aaron Pierron, Fine Glass Recycling (repurposing decorative glassware)
  • Melissa Rothrock, Calling All Seamstresses (repurposing vinyl banners)
  • Cory Skuldt, Clover's Brewery Bites (repurposing spent grain)
  • Renata Sturdivant, Safe Innovative High Heels (repurposing vinyl banners and waterproof clogs)

The [Re]Verse Pitch Competition is a collaboration between the City of Austin, the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development, Impact Hub Austin and the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service with additional support from a wide variety of community partners. Learn more at www.ReversePitch.org.


Voting Open: City Announces [Re]verse Pitch Finalists Competing for $10,000 Innovation Prize

Voting is open now until 5 p.m. December 9.

Austin, Texas, December 2, 2015: Eight Austin entrepreneurs will compete for a $10,000 innovation prize Dec. 9 and Austinites get to weigh in on who wins.
 
The finalists are competing to present the best idea – and business concept – that repurposes a byproduct from a local organization into a viable business with social benefit.
 
Online voting is open now until 5 p.m. Dec. 9 as the finalists gear up to make their pitch to a panel of expert judges.
 
The [Re]Verse Pitch Final Competition will be from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 9 in the Bass Lecture Hall at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, 2300 Red River St. The event is free and open to the public. RSVPs requested.
 
Austinites may vote for their favorite idea by signing up for a free account or through a handful of social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.
 
The top five vote-getters will earn “People’s Choice” points added on top of the judges’ scoring.

“We are thrilled to see so many [Re]Verse Pitch concepts that solve for real needs in the community and reduce waste at the same time,” said Bob Gedert, Director of Austin Resource Recovery. “We encourage Austinites to check out the ideas and vote.”
 
Ideas range from re-purposing waterproof clog shoes into safer slip-resistant high heels and using leftover vinyl for new products like backpacks.
 
Proposals for spent grains, a brewery byproduct, include “brewnola” granola bars and “brew biscuits” for dogs. And what could possibly be done with a room-full of wicker baskets? Find out by browsing the proposals.

[RE]Verse Finalists

Eight finalists will pitch their ideas at the final competition Dec. 9:

  • Sue Sende Cole, Working with Wicker (repurposing wicker baskets)
  • Santiago Diaz, Austin Building Materials Depository and Working Space (repurposing books, spent grain, vinyl banners, water proof clogs, canvas, and decorative glassware)
  • Joe Diffie, The Table to Bacon Feed Company (repurposing spent grain)
  • Aaron Pierron, Non-container Glass Recycling (repurposing decorative glassware)
  • Melissa Rothrock, Calling All Seamstresses (repurposing vinyl banners)
  • Cory Skuldt, Brew Biscuits Expansion (repurposing spent grain)
  • Renata Sturdival, Safe Innovative Heels (repurposing vinyl banners and waterproof clogs)
  • Brandon Ward, Brewnola Bars (repurposing spent grain)

Judging will be based on business viability, sustainability impact, economic impact and social impact, along with effectiveness of pitch delivery.

Background

The [Re]Verse Pitch Competition is a one-of-a-kind social innovation program to turn valuable raw materials that are currently leaving local businesses, nonprofits and institutions as waste into the foundation of new social enterprises.
 
The first-ever “reverse pitch” Nov. 3 drew more than 85 social entrepreneurs and Austinites at Vuka to hear pitches from local businesses and nonprofits that have materials up for grabs.
 
The [Re]Verse Pitch Competition is a collaboration between the City of Austin, the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development, Impact Hub Austin and the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service with additional support from a wide variety of community partners. Learn more at www.ReversePitch.org.


City to Offer Innovation Prize for Reuse Endeavors

First “reverse pitch” of its kind focused on pitching to entrepreneurs

Austin, Texas, October 19, 2015: The City of Austin will award $10,000 to a social entrepreneur this year who can turn raw materials into a viable enterprise.
 
The first-ever “reverse pitch” launches Nov. 3 with an open call for social entrepreneurs to hear pitches from local businesses and nonprofits that have raw materials up for grabs.
 
The [Re]Verse Pitch Competition, a new social innovation program, helps turn valuable raw materials that are currently leaving local businesses, nonprofits, and institutions as waste into the foundation of new social enterprises.
 
“Entrepreneurs are accustomed to pitching their business idea to investors, partners and anyone they might share an elevator ride with. In this competition, the tables will turn. The entrepreneurs will get to hear the pitch and determine what they want to tackle,” said Natalie Betts, the mastermind behind the “reverse pitch” concept, who holds a hybrid position with the City working for both Austin Resource Recovery and the Economic Development Department.
 
Unique positions held by Betts are part of the City’s strategy to rethink how we deliver government services and support zero waste businesses and entrepreneurs.
 
“Today, we cannot effectively repurpose reusable materials in a silo. We also want to consider economic feasibility, creating jobs and many other factors,” said Austin City Manager Marc Ott. “The [Re]Verse Pitch Competition brings together great minds and opportunities to get real about turning trash into treasure, in collaboration with our most valuable resource – our citizens.”

The main events are free and open to the public. RSVPs requested:

  • Opening Pitch: Nov. 3, 2015, 6-8 p.m. at Vuka, 411 W. Monroe St. Organizations pitching by product materials to entrepreneurs as business opportunities include Goodwill Industries of Central Texas, Recycled Reads, Travis County and BuildASign. Watch their videos describing what each has to offer.
  • Final Competition: Dec. 9, 2015, 6-8:30 p.m. at Bass Lecture Hall, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, 2300 Red River St. [Re]Verse Pitch finalists to compete for the Innovation Prize.

The public and anyone interested in participating in the competition should RSVP here.
 
Winners will be selected in December by a panel of judges and with participation from the Austin community. Judging will be based on the business venture’s viability, sustainability impact, economic impact, and social impact, along with how effective the entrepreneurs delivered their pitch.
 
The entrepreneurs will receive guidance as they formulate a business plan and test their concepts for viability.
 
“A challenge prize is something new for Austin. We’ve seen their use by various governments across the country as a way to leverage limited resources, collective intelligence and draw awareness to a specific issue. So, I’m excited to see how our community responds and we’ll take away valuable lessons learned from the Reverse Pitch for future challenge prize opportunities," said Austin Chief Innovation Officer Kerry O’Connor.
 
The [Re]Verse Pitch Competition is a collaboration between the City of Austin, U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development, Impact Hub Austin, and the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service with additional support from a wide variety of community partners. 
 
“Challenging and enabling entrepreneurs to work with hard-to-recycle materials is a key step in the evolution to a circular economy in Austin – one where locally generated waste becomes the new engine for creating value,” said Daniel Kietzer with the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development.

About the Recycling Economic Development Program

Two City of Austin departments, Austin Resource Recovery and the Economic Development Department, have teamed up to launch the Recycling Economic Development Program. The program’s mission is to attract, retain and grow zero waste businesses and entrepreneurs in order to create local jobs and foster a resilient zero waste ecosystem in Central Texas.

2016 [Re]Verse Pitch Final Competition Full Recording

2016 [Re]Verse PItch Opening Event on CityView

[Re]Verse Pitch 2016 Opening Event Full Recording

Opening by: Natalie Betts, Austin Resource Recovery & Economic Development Department

Emcee by: Mitch Jacobson, Austin Technology Incubator

BuildASign Materials Pitch

Goodwill Industries of Central Texas Materials Pitch

Hops & Grain Brewing Materials Pitch

Recycled Reads Materials Pitch

Travis County Materials Pitch


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