Swim with the Sharks, New Castle County Chamber of Commerce’s annual pitch competition for growing startups, went virtual this year — with a twist.
Instead of a Zoom version of the event, it took place on the sound stage of DETV in Wilmington, where one-person pitches were delivered in person — but social distanced — to a panel of three judges.
This year, Adam Stager and TRIC Robotics took the top prize of $10,000 in cash and resources from the New Castle County Office of Economic Development’s NCC Innovates after a strong competition with Ajit George of Second Chances Farm and Eric Gottlieb of Lignolix (all of which appear on the 2020 RealLIST Startups). Each founder was given approximately 15 minutes to pitch their company, including a question-and-answer session with judges Katey Evans, cofounder of The Frozen Farmer; Bob Beichner, director of economic development and business incubation for the NCC Chamber of Commerce; and Gayle Dillman, cofounder of Gable Music Ventures.
TRIC Robotics has developed an agricultural robot that autonomously treats strawberry crops with UVC light instead of pesticides. The robots have been in the fields at Fifer Orchards in Camden, as well as two research sites: University of Delaware’s Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgetown, and the USDA Agricultural Research Center in Kearneysville, Virginia. There, they move through the strawberry fields overnight, shining UVA light on the plants. Five pilots are set up for next year, including two farmers.
Stager, a UD graduate who runs the startup with Vishnu Somasundaram and a team of UD students, told the judges that he would use the money to support the Delaware pilots and hire new part-time technicians who will hopefully transition into long-term full-time members of the team.
Watch the full Swim with Sharks 2020 event below; pitches start at 5:30, 19:00 and 33:00.-30-