Tech Startup snags $20,000 Prize Package at Hatch This 2018

Shattering all records for WNC entrepreneurial weekends, the Hatch AVL Foundation drew over 500 people for their 2nd annual Hatch This, successfully hosting 8 entrepreneurial teams pitching to compete for the coveted $20,000 Prize Package.

A game-changing mash-up of an accelerator, a hackathon, and a weekend-long party for the Asheville entrepreneurial community, Hatch This did not disappoint in drawing out a “who’s who” of regional innovators. Kicking off the weekend, a VIP Night was held on November 1st at the Asheville Social Hall, with a keynote from RIoT (Raleigh Internet of Things) Executive Director, Tom Snyder. Snyder discussed the current state of Disruptive Innovation across the state, and the ways for Western North Carolina to become more competitive through regional collaboration.

Tom Snyder, Executive Director of RIoT at Hatch This 2018, photo by Julieta Fumberg Studio


“To be the global Center of Excellence for the IoT economy is much larger than just Raleigh or Charlotte. It is exciting and validating to see tech energy exploding in cities like Asheville. RIoT is thrilled to support programs like Hatch This and to be an ongoing partner in the WNC region,” shared Snyder, following his keynote.

Immediately following, Friday evening launched the official weekend accelerator, with 22 early-stage entrepreneurs pitching their 60 second ideas to a room of 150 people at the Hatch headquarters in Downtown Asheville. The crowd then selected the top 8 ideas, teams were formed, and the 48 hour business hackathon began!

Over the course of the weekend, participants were matched with 30 onsite expert mentors, investors, and seasoned CEOs, to get real-time advisement around refining their pitch. With 60 weekend participants ranging from high school students to retired professionals, the teams presented a dynamic breeding ground of ideas, challenges, and opportunities for our mentors.

Chris Buehler, a Hatch Foundation Board Member and the Mentoring Coordinator for Hatch This explained, “what made the weekend memorable was that it presented a unique opportunity for mentors to collaborate by pooling their experiences and resources with the common goal of creating a brighter economic future for WNC entrepreneurs. Working together, side by side, channeling efforts towards supporting early-stage businesses, that created something really special for all involved at Hatch This 2018.”

On Sunday evening, the event culminated in a Final Pitch competition at the Asheville Social Hall, where the teams presented their 4 minute pitches, to a panel of expert judges (Thom Ruhe, Councilwoman Gwen Wisler, Jeff Kaplan, Jake Sorofman, Terri King, and Jim Phillip). Warmly welcomed by Mayor Esther Manheimer, the packed house cheered on the 8 teams as they demonstrated how much progress they had made over the course of the intensive weekend.

“It is truly amazing to see how much these teams mature from Friday’s 60-second pitch to Sunday’s finals. The teams take an idea, validate the market, confirm that people will buy it, forecast financials, and build mockups or prototypes by building a team and receiving expert mentorship,” explained Jeff Kaplan, Director of Venture Asheville and 2018 Pitch Judge. “Hatch This is an exceptionally formative engine of new venture creation. They take all the things you need to get right to building a startup and put it in a room – that’s how successful startups are made.”

And the Winner is…

While the competition was tight, four teams were selected as the top winners by the panel of judges. Tied for third place was Asante Monadjemi and Jeremy James, UNC Asheville students and Founders of ONEPEOPLE, an educational platform that makes the difficult conversations of diversity easier through message driven apparel and B2B cultural sensitivity certification and consulting. The other pitch tied for third was Yuliya Chernykhovskaya and Michael Pavlou, Founders of Shredded Lettuce Box, a monthly subscription box conveniently delivering delicious, healthy, plant-based, protein-packed snacks right to your doorstep.

Coming in at second place was Alex Hamrick, Founder of Big Bubble Rig, a self contained backpack bubble making system that allows you to create mythical sized bubbles. A crowd favorite, Alex brought the kind of passion and enthusiasm to the competition through his mega bubbles!

Beesly Team winning the $20,000 Prize Package at Hatch This 2018, photo by Julieta Fumberg Studio


The 1st place winner was Drew Crawford, Founder of Beesly, a virtual data assistant and a retail business intelligence tool identifying needs and opportunities through email, SMS and voice.  Drew and his team ‘wowed’ the judges with their usage of Alexa to demonstrate the ease of constant updating with Beesly.

Crawford is a serial entrepreneur in Asheville, currently owning Wooden Stone Consulting and DIYtiny, which he presents on at an upcoming 1 Million Cups Asheville. When asked about his experience at Hatch This, Drew enthusiastically shared, “I can’t believe there is so much AMAZING talent in Asheville! Having never been to a launch weekend before, I couldn’t have imagined the business and life changing potential of a single weekend.”
In addition to the Pitch Competition, Tech Talent South awarded a $6800 full-ride scholarship to their Code Immersion Course to Emily Tatum, one of the weekend participants. Emily pitched her startup, LASER, which would assist emergency responders in determining threat location and severity through a phone-based mobile application.

It takes a Village

Hatch This is a massive undertaking in order to accomplish such incredible results in the Asheville Community. The $20,000 Prize Package was made available by the generous contributions of NCIDEA Foundation, Wicked Weed Brewing Company, KDT Ventures, Van Winkle Law Firm, Tech Talent South, JB Media Institute, Spengler & Agans, Julieta Fumberg Studio, JSK Financial, Mountain BizWorks, Anthroware, Carolina Small Business Development Fund, Crunchy Bananas, Hatchworks, Capital at Play, Venture Asheville, WatchPitch, and BP Solutions Group.

In addition to the sponsors who help make the event possible, the powerhouse team of volunteers were the true engine behind the weekend accelerator. With over 1000 hours invested in planning, preparing, executing, and managing the 4 day Hatch This program, the volunteers brought more than sweat to the table. They brought an unrelenting passion for innovation.

“I volunteered to plan Hatch This because events like these matter. They make a difference in the community by impacting individuals and building stronger start-up ecosystems. More than that, I volunteered because it was the Hatch AVL Foundation leading the charge. I’m passionate about helping entrepreneurs get the help they need to start or grow their businesses, which is why I started Supportedly with Co-Founder, Tom Ryan.  The chance to work with Hatch and further their mission, while feeding my passion was an irresistible ask, and I’m honored to have had the opportunity,” expressed Stephanie Kissel, one of the lead organizers for Hatch This.

The other team members who brought life to Hatch This were Ailis Grosch, Jacqui Henderson-Scott, Melody Herman, Jon Jones (Hatch Board Member), Chris Buehler (Hatch Board Member), Lindsey Lupfer, Jacqueline Lowe, Johanna Hagarty, Rebekah Pierce (Hatch Operations Coordinator), Aryelle Jacobsen (Hatch Intern), Isaiah Green (Hatch Intern).

For additional details about Hatch AVL Foundation events or the 2019 Hatch This, contact Emily Breedlove, Executive Director of Hatch at