Wichita entrepreneur to compete for grand prize of more than $1 million

09/23/2013 5:23 PM

09/23/2013 5:24 PM

Entrepreneur Jeremy Jones has a shot at getting more than $1 million for his company by participating in a global competition.

The CEO and co-founder of Wichita-based Nitride Solutions was named last week as a semifinalist in the Get in the Ring competition. Jones was one of 40 entrepreneurs in the U.S. to be named a semifinalist, out of 283 qualified applicants.

Of the 40, eight entrepreneurs will be named as finalists Oct. 23 and then will compete in a live pitch of their companies at the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City on Nov. 18.

The winner of the U.S. competition will travel to the Netherlands on Nov. 22 to compete against seven entrepreneurs from other countries. The winner of the international competition will be eligible for more than $1 million in angel capital for his or her startup, according to a Kauffman news release.

The U.S. version of the international Get in the Ring competition is sponsored by Overland Park-based Sprint.

Jones said Monday he learned of the competition a month ago and was urged to apply by Joni Cobb, president of Pipeline Entrepreneurs, a Kansas-based entrepreneurship fellowship program for promising technology and bioscience entrepreneurs.

Jones’ company aims to produce high-volume, low-cost aluminum nitride substrates that are used in solid-state electronics, light-emitting diodes and ultraviolet laser diodes. He was a member of the 2010 Pipeline program and was named Innovator of the Year, based in part on his ability to pitch his company to investors.

“That was transformative to what we were doing,” Jones said of learning how to pitch his company through the Pipeline program and of winning the award.

In the Get in the Ring competition, he’ll have only a fraction of the time he was afforded to make his pitch to the Pipeline judges. Jones said that in the Pipeline competition, he had 12 minutes to make his pitch. In Get in the Ring, he must make a successful three-minute video pitch to advance to the round of eight.

He’s working on the pitch now. It’s not the shortest pitch he’s had to make. He said that earlier this year he had to make a 90-second video pitching his company to a group of angel investors.

Jones said the competition is an “opportunity” to get a big investment in a short period of time. His company is close to wrapping up its second round of angel financing of $1.5 million.

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