Inaugural Pitch DIA Competition A Success!

borrowed from Dalton Daily Citizen

Dalton’s Tripp Phillips has big plans for his company Le-Glue, which makes a water-soluble glue strong enough to hold Legos together while playing with them but not damage them.

Phillips wants to reach agreements with major retailers to carry the product. He wants to have it included in every set of Legos sold in the United States. But first, he plans to finish sixth grade at Dalton Middle School in just a few days.

On Tuesday, Phillips and Le-Glue took first place in the inaugural PitchDIA contest, winning $5,000 and becoming the first occupant in the Dalton Innovation Accelerator space in the Landmark Building in downtown Dalton, as well as winning various professional services from local firms.

The first runner-up in the contest was K12 Logistics, which would change how student files are maintained. Third place went to Ex Out, which would create an electronic marketplace to match recreational land users with landowners and outdoor guides.

Phillips took to the stage of Stage 123 to tell the judges and an audience of about 200 how he’d come up with the idea in third grade. His dad Lee, a lab scientist, worked to develop a product that met Tripp’s specifications.

In 2014, Le-Glue won an International Torrance Creativity Award, which recognizes young artists and inventors.

“Did I mention it was international?” Phillips said.

Phillips told the judges — Piet Dossche, president of U.S Floors and executive vice president of Shaw Industries; Jamie Hamilton of Atlanta Seed Co.; Marilyn Helms, dean of the Wright School of Business at Dalton State College; and Brian Moore of BB&T Bank — that Le-Glue is already being sold online through sites such as eBay, Etsy and Amazon.

“We love Amazon,” he said.

Helms said afterwards that all of the finalists had strong ideas and excellent pitches.

“We had a hard time, but (Le-Glue) was so much further along,” she said.

Dossche agreed.

“It was very difficult for the judges, but what made the difference is that Le-Glue is a true business as it is. The other two presentations still have to prove themselves as a business,” he said.

During Phillips’ pitch, Dossche warned that if he really wants to do business with Lego he should pursue that aggressively. He said it is possible that the company, if it thinks Le-Glue is a good idea, might try to work around the patent that the Phillipses have on the product.

Martha Thomason, the Westwood School teacher who suggested Phillips enter the Torrence contest, said she isn’t surprised he also won the PitchDIA contest.

“He’s going to be president one day. I believe that,” she said.

The competition was modeled on the TV show “Shark Tank.”

Alex Brown of Ex Out noted that in the Western states some 30 to 50 percent of land is publicly owned and accessible by the public. But in Georgia, less than 4 percent of the land is publicly owned and accessible by the public. He said that created an opportunity to match private landowners with people seeking to hunt, fish and camp.

Scott and Blair Chapman of K12 Logistics said that improving the way student files are handled and shared would benefit students and teachers.

Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce President Rob Bradham hosted the event. He noted that executives at Barrett Properties and Inventure IT came up with the idea for the competition at about the same time that the chamber and Believe Greater Dalton were focusing on revitalizing entrepreneurship and boosting downtown Dalton.

More than 60 companies entered the contest.

“There’s a lot of excitement about the event, and we are glad to see so many people show up tonight,” said Barry Slaymaker, head of strategy at Barrett Properties.