2020 [RE]verse Pitch Competition Winners Announced, Awarded $10,000 Innovation Prize

On Monday, April 27, winners of the annual [RE]verse Pitch Competition were announced after pitching new business ideas to a panel of judges at the virtual closing event.  Samantha Panger and Destin Douglas of LoFi Recycling Systems, and Aadhikesh Boopalam, Seniru Kottegoda and Collin McCloskey of Terra Helmets will be awarded $10,000 to develop and expand their pitched business ideas.

LoFi Recycling Systems will repurpose vinyl record scraps made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) from Gold Rush Vinyl, a local company, into indoor pots and planters. “PVC is difficult to recycle and can be hazardous to aquatic ecosystems down the road,” says Samantha Panger of LoFi Recycling Systems. “We will be able to use and shape this material into pots and planters; it’s a new and exciting way to recycle plastic waste. We want to keep PVC from ever ending up in a landfill, and turn it into something useful.”

Terra Helmets will repurpose a variety of materials including decorator fabric samples from Austin Creative Reuse and International Interior Designers Association (IIDA), vinyl record scraps from Gold Rush Vinyl, and plastic sandals from Travis County into shareable helmets. “With the local and national rise in use of electric scooters, and an increase in reported head injuries, we created Terra Helmets as a way to help our community,” Collin McCloskey of Terra Helmets stated. “Using byproduct materials from local businesses and turning them into helmets allows us to keep ‘waste’ out of the landfill, and foster a safe community. We’re protecting the earth while protecting your head.”

Reverse Pitch launched on February 10 at the opening pitch event, where five businesses and non-profits pitched their surplus materials to eligible competitors. Leading up to the finalist pitch event on April 27, competitors attended virtual workshops and created business ideas using the pitched materials. Four finalists were selected to present at the finalist pitch event, with two chosen as winners of the $20,000 grand prize.

The Reverse Pitch Competition is a collaboration between the City of Austin, Austin Young Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development, UT McCombs School of Business, and the Social Entrepreneurship Learning Lab with additional support from a wide variety of community partners. Learn more at ReversePitch.org.

About the Circular Economy Program.
Two City of Austin departments, Austin Resource Recovery and the Economic Development Department, have teamed up to launch the Circular Economy Program. The program’s mission attract, retain, and grow businesses, non-profits, and entrepreneurs in the zero waste industry in order to create well-paying local jobs, attract investment, and support the necessary infrastructure for a resilient circular economy in Central Texas.

About Austin Resource Recovery
Austin Resource Recovery provides a wide range of services designed to transform waste into resources while keeping our community clean. Services include curbside collection of recycling, trash, yard trimmings and large brush and bulk items; street sweeping; dead animal collection; household hazardous waste disposal and recycling; and outreach and education. Austin Resource Recovery offers free, voluntary and confidential consulting services to help Austin businesses reduce waste and comply with the City’s recycling ordinances. In December 2011, the Austin City Council approved the Austin Resource Recovery Master Plan, which is the City’s road map to Zero Waste. The City of Austin is committed to reducing the amount of waste sent to area landfills by 90 percent by 2040. Learn more at austinrecycles.com.

About the Austin Young Chamber of Commerce
The Austin Young Chamber promotes the general economic interests of the Central Texas business community through initiatives and efforts designed to build and strengthen our young professional workforce. Connect with the Austin Young Chamber on TwitterFacebookInstagram, or LinkedIn, or check out upcoming programs at austinyc.org.