WaterLens and Plugsurfing Move on to Challenge Cup Global Finals, Some Surprise Honorable Mentions

May 14, 2014

7:37 am

Last night, 16 startups from around the world competed in 1776’s Challenge Cup Energy Semifinals in Washington, D.C., with two startups – one domestic, one international – moving on to compete at Global Finals this Saturday. The second of four semifinal competitions during the Challenge Festival, yesterday’s results deviated from the prior day’s Education Semifinals in that the judges announced two honorable mentions in addition to the two winners.


The reps from Waterlens and Plugsurfing posing with the judges at last night’s Challenge Cup Energy Semifinals.

Domestic Finalist: WaterLens

The energy semifinalist from Austin, WaterLens, provides an easy-to-use and reliable system for water testing at hydraulic fracturing (fracking) sites. Their patent-pending system allows for real-time chemical analysis of the water rather than relying on current methods that require hours of time, faulty field kits, or the need to send samples out to costly labs. WaterLens’s system allows for fracking water to be tested constantly (rather than periodically), which would help reduce well prevention, as well as greatly reduce the risk of nearby water contamination. WaterLens also won Tech Cocktail’s hottest startup poll in January.

International Finalist: Plugsurfing

The energy winner from Challenge Cup Berlin, Plugsurfing, is attempting to solve one of the major issues associated with owning electric vehicles: charging those vehicles. Because there is no universal payment system for charging electric vehicles, owners must carry around different RFID cards in their attempt to ensure that they can charge their cars at nearby charging stations. Plugsurfing allows EV owners to simply use their smartphone to pay for charging. The company has managed to do this through its massive database of charging points for EVs that they’ve mapped throughout Europe. Last year, Plugsurfing collected €50,000 in revenue.

Honorable Mentions: Ethical Electric, Khaya Power

Most Traction – Ethical Electric was named as an Honorable Mention last night because of the considerable traction it has made. The company sells clean energy from local solar and wind farms to homes and businesses that want it. Since launching, Ethical Electric has been licensed by 12 states across the Northeast and the Midwest, has acquired 40,000+ customers at a 15 percent growth rate per month, and has $20 million in booked revenue.

Greatest Social Impact – Last night, the judges felt that Khaya Power deserved an Honorable Mention for the company’s potential for great social impact. At last night’s pitch, the company noted that of the 1 billion people living in Africa, 600 million have no access to a regular electric supply. Khaya Power is attempting to solve this by providing a portable battery for those living off the paraffin grid, which can be swapped out at charging stations that utilize grid or solar power to recharge.

Hottest Energy Startup (Readers’ Choice): Ethical Electric

And, according to Tech Cocktail readers, Ethical Electric is the Challenge Cup’s hottest energy startup. Thanks to all who participated in our poll!

In each of the Challenge Cup’s four categories (education, energy, health, and smart cities), 16 startups from the United States and abroad compete for a spot in the Finals competition – with one domestic startup and one international startup earning the chance to compete in the Finals. Tonight, 16 more startups will compete in the Challenge Cup Health Semifinals, during which two more startups will join the education and energy winners in Saturday’s Challenge Cup: Global Finals for a chance at $100,000.

The Challenge Cup is produced by 1776 in partnership with Tech Cocktail and iStrategyLabs.

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Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things.

Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in ‘Doctor Who’, Murakami, ‘The Mindy Project’, and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a “writer”. Tweet @RonaldPBarba.

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