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Local entrepreneurs showcase their talent at 5 Across pitch event
LEXINGTON, KY (March 9, 2011) —The 5 Across competition featuring Lexington's up-and-coming entrepreneurial stars kicked off a new season on February 23 at Awesome Inc. In a fashion mirroring American Idol, five local entrepreneurial teams had five minutes to present their business for a chance at prize money and a presentation to the Lexington Venture Club.
The winner, Michael Hartman and his company Frogdice Inc., was chosen by a panel of local experienced entrepreneurs and business leaders, and an audience texting in their votes. Frogdice creates online computer games. The company has already released two games, and has a third game in production. Hartman won $500 and will present his company to the Lexington Venture Club in March.
5 Across hosts five bimonthly rounds of competitive pitch events throughout the year with a final in December. At the final, all five winners will compete for $3,500 and the opportunity to present to the Bluegrass Angels. This is the second year for the 5 Across competition, which is a collaborative effort by the Lexington Venture Club, Awesome Inc., Commerce Lexington and the Lexington Innovation & Commercialization Center, part of the UK commercialization and economic development office.
Lexington ICC director Warren Nash and Awesome Inc.'s Rusty Leskiv helped prepare Michael Hartman, CEO and president of Frogdice, for his winning presentation.
"Michael was nervous, but he didn't let it show when he made his pitch," Nash said. "What he did show was his confidence and his knowledge about the gaming industry. He handled all of the judges' questions like a pro and stood out among the competitors."
Nash, along with Awesome Inc. and Commerce Lexington, will continue to work with Hartman over the next several months to prepare him for the 5 Across finals in December. According to Hartman, Frogdice wants to raise capital to hire more employees in Lexington to develop more games and grow the company.
"We are really fortunate to have such an awesome resource as the Lexington ICC and Commerce Lexington," Hartman said. "Whether you are a new business or an established business like us that wants to grow, you should talk to them."
"The 5 Across event is just one piece of the puzzle which I have encouraged Michael to consider," Nash said. Both Nash and Kelly Cain from Commerce Lexington, helped Hartman update the company's business plan and apply for other state funding programs.
Frogdice is a client of the Bluegrass Business Development Partnership, an economic development initiative between UK, Commerce Lexington and city government. The Lexington ICC is part of UK's Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship.