Some of the judges officiated other showcases as well, but I haven't mentioned them yet. I felt privileged to be in the same room with them:
Steve Wanta of Whole Foods' non-profit, Whole Planet Foundation
Cody Nystrom, investor at SJF Ventures
Gene Han of Target (yes, that Target, and no, I can't find a specific page on their sustainability initiatives, so I'm pointing to Target.com)
Courtney Bickert of United Nations Foundation
Ben Schiller of Fast Company
I am most interested in working with organizations that do good and promote responsibility, but have a for-profit element that keeps them from being at the mercy of grants and donations, so this showcase was especially exciting. The start-ups' goals ranged from more conscious consuming to creating jobs in less-developed countries through franchising/licensing products. This showcase also seemed to have more contenders, and I was able to stay for the whole thing! These are inspiring models for study, and I plan to give several of them my business and/or attention.
Drink Well - Removes arsenic from water, transforming the global water crisis into an entrepreneurial opportunity with a micro-franchise model.
Spend Consciously - BuyPartisan mobile app gives political spending information for companies on products you plan to purchase and ultimately helps you align your buying habits with your values and groups with which you identify.
Harbor Biometric - First ID stores medical information based on your fingerprint so that emergency crews can access your prescriptions and preexisting conditions to treat you properly, even if you're not able to communicate at the time.
Do Amorè - Buy wedding bands and engagement rings made from materials that are ethically sourced and contribute to water access at the same time. Hearing about this company made me wish that I hadn't already bought our wedding bands. They have a really cool business model that lets people get inexpensive versions of the rings they like in the mail to try on before purchasing.
Elequa - Water treatment system has new technology "electrocoagulation" to separate pollutants from water, originally developed at UTSA.
Wilding & Co. - Pine Trees are an invasive species in New Zealand, taking over land and hogging resources from native plants. This company turns them (free inventory! helps the community!) into pure essential Douglas Fir oil & distilled pine mulch, which can be converted to diesel.
Emergence Bioenergy - "Instead of producing power centrally and creating transmission infrastructure to deliver it to people, what if those without energy could produce their own power locally from fuel already widely available around them?" This is a really cool model that helps under-served, remote populations gain access to electricity, a resource that most of us take for granted.
Underground Networks - What if government weren't run by corporations? What if we, the people, were able to communicate with our politicians, and get their response to our message? What if we were able to do this on our smartphones? Enter Underground Networks' mobile app (coming soon - sign up for launch notification). They have a great three-minute video.
Accompany - "Style with a conscience." Fair-trade products that are absolutely beautiful!
Give Gab - Volunteers can track their time spent with various organizations, build a resume, and donate to causes that are important to them.
Half United - I remember Carmen, one of the founders, mentioning that they'd been able to reach their current level with no debt. She and her brother started with almost nothing and began to paint on towels and mugs, aiming to donate half their profits to child hunger. The "Giving Back is the New Black" t-shirt is my favorite!
Naadam Cashmere - Responsibly-sourced cashmere clothing