This year’s highly anticipated The Big Idea pitch competition yielded two co-first place winners—the first time that has happened since the program’s inception in 2013. Students, faculty, and staff filled the Celeste Theatre on Tuesday, April 5, cheering as the five teams that made it to the finals presented pitches for their start-up companies, each seeking a portion of the $50,000 prize. The winnings are to be used as seed money to launch their ventures.

Sharing first place are King of the Sea, presented by Nick Kramer ’16 and Peter Wailes ’16, and Neonic, presented by Cormac Siegfried ’19 and Nick Ravich ’19.

In third place is Spindle, with team members Ben Hicks ’18, Alec Sheffield ’18, and Henry Alderson-Smith ’18.

King of the Sea, which received $25,000, seeks to grow a regular market for consumption of an exotic seafood: lionfish. King of the Sea will connect with fishing operations in the Caribbean and West Atlantic to harvest lionfish and thus reduce the negative impact lionfish have on aquatic ecosystems. The fast-reporoducing fish is native to the Indian Ocean, but the release of six fish decades ago in Florida has resulted in a non-native population that is destroying reefs and decimating populations of native fish.

Neonic, which received $20,000, uses people’s smartphones to create a unique crowd-sized canvas of art, providing an interactive way in which concert-goers can become part of the performance. The company’s founders hope to test a version of the app at CC’s Llamapalooza music festival in early May.

Spindle, which received $5,000, is using neuro-technology to create a “smart mask” to improve memory retention and enhance the function of the brain.

Two other teams made it to the finals, culled from an initial field of 17. Team members Harvey Kadyanji ’18 and Dougie Lagrone ’18 pitched Pick Up, a cloud platform that helps colleges and their students improve the intramural sports experience.

I-Vest Colorado, an online crowdfunding platform that serves as an intermediary between local non-accredited investors and local startup companies, was pitched by Jared Bell ’18, Jackson Kaplan ’18, Luke Cree ’18, and Sam Markin ’18.

Judge Bob Selig ’61, president of Davis Instruments Corp., a company he co-founded 46 years ago, also served as a judge last year. “CC is becoming more creative every day. I see innovation at all levels and continuing in the right trajectory,” he says. “And boy, these kids are smart!”

The Big Idea is an initiative of CC’s strategic plan, “Building on the Block.” This year’s competition is sponsored by Innovation@CC and Mountain Chalet.