Startup Quest™ teams reveal chosen technologies to investor judges

Investor Pitch, Awards Presentation & Networking Reception on Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Nine local Startup Quest™ teams will reveal their simulated businesses and chosen technologies to a panel of investor judges on Tuesday, June 3. CareerSource North Central Florida will host the Investor Pitch and Awards Presentation at Hilton University of Florida Conference Center Gainesville, 1714 SW 34th St.

Pitches begin at 2:30 p.m. with the awards presentation and networking reception starting at 5:00 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. Attendees can pre-register online via

Startup Quest™ is a nationally recognized workforce development model that grows self-employment through entrepreneurship, shifting the mindset from “find a job” to “create my job.” This innovative 10-week, hands-on program pairs technological innovations developed at public universities, federal laboratories and NASA with highly successful entrepreneur mentors who help qualified professional participants learn how new inventions and technologies are brought to market.

“It’s exciting to watch each participant evolve regardless of their employment background,” said Makaya C. McKnight, Startup Quest™ regional project manager and COO of the Institute for Workforce Innovation. “Participants learn so much more than how to commercialize technologies. They are developing an entrepreneurial mindset and adding skills to their toolbox that will expand their opportunities.”

During the 10-week Startup Quest™ training program, participants formed teams led by entrepreneurs/mentors, created simulated companies and developed business plans based on real technologies. Mentors in this cohort selected technologies from NASA, UF, Florida State University, University of Central Florida and Florida International University.

Teams will be drawn in random order to present to the judges’ panel. Startup Quest™ judges are carefully chosen for their ability to judge business plans and proposed business ventures. This year’s judges include leaders in the business community:

  • Eric Buffkin – Co-Founder, President & COO, eTect, Inc.; Founder and CEO, Pelagic Group, LLC
  • Weaver H. Gaines – President & CEO, OBMedical Company; Chairman of the Board, Nanotherapeutics
  • Dr. David Greenspan – President, Spinode Consulting; Consultant, Synogen Consulting
  • Jamie Grooms – Executive Director, Florida Institute for Commercialization of Public Research
  • Randy Scott – Partner, HealthQuest Capital
  • Dr. Maulik Shah – Medical Director, GuidePoint Life Sciences; Co Founder, Insight Genetics
  • Sue Washer – President and CEO, AGTC; Director, SEBIO; Director, BoFlorida

Startup Quest™ strengthens communities by creating new pathways for citizens’ employment, giving highly educated participants the tools and training they need to create new businesses and stimulate job creation.

Startup Quest™ is part of an evaluation study funded by the U.S. Department of Labor. Participants are selected from among eligible applicants. This is the third Gainesville cohort and the second local cohort to complete since CareerSource NCFL was awarded a nearly $12 million grant by the U.S. Department of Labor in 2011 to expand the Startup Quest pilot program throughout the state.

Learn more about Startup Quest™