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Inventors Battle It Out for Cash at Park West

By Paul Biasco | November 6, 2013 3:02pm
Tap the Future
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DNAinfo/Paul Biasco

LINCOLN PARK — Park West was transformed into a Shark Tank Tuesday night as five teams of entrepreneurs presented their best pitches for a chance to win $250,000.

The Tap the Future event included guest judges Daymond John of ABC's Shark Tank and FUBU fame, as well as the founders of Chicago-based shoe company BucketFeet.

Of the five finalists who pitched their businesses, only one was from Chicago, emitips, which makes strips which attach to any pair of gloves to allow customers to use touch screens.

The event was part of a nation-wide competition hosted by Miller Lite and was the final stop of a five-city tour before the national finals.

"The simplest piece of advice is practice the pitch," said Raaja Nemani, co-founder of BucketFeet. "A lot of the time it comes down to delivery and you have one shot."

In the end, a duo of Notre Dame grads behind TextPride won the $20,000 prize for the night and a trip to the finals for a chance at the $250,000 top prize.

"Any entrepreneur knows that you have to take risks if you are going to have any chance of succeeding," said Aaron Firestein, co-founder of BucketFeet. 

TextPride was founded in a dorm room at Notre Date in the spring of 2012 and is scooping up national brands to license them for mobile text communications, a.k.a. emojis.

The app, created by Evan Wray and Sean O’Brien, allows users to text branded logos such as a college team's logo in a text.

"You're out there against people in your region and you have to step up your game," John said.