ANN ARBOR, MICH.–At the conclusion of its latest Entrepreneur Boot Camp, Ann Arbor SPARK awarded CampGig.com its $25,000 Best of Boot Camp prize and Breath of Life its $10,000 runner up prize. The winners were selected by an esteemed panel of experts, based on the business’s investor pitch.

“This year’s Boot Camp cohort was a diverse bunch, ranging from online apps to a consumer product for newborns,” said Bill Mayer, Ann Arbor SPARK vice president of entrepreneurial services. “What was impressive is that the tech ecosystem in Ann Arbor has room – and support – for so many different entrepreneurial endeavors. It’s exciting to think of the impact these emerging companies, which were strengthened by the Boot Camp experience, will have on our regional economy as they continue to grow and evolve.”

“Boot Camp is often our first engagement with companies,” Mayer added. “Successful completion of the Boot Camp program sets the stage for an on-going relationship and continued support – which is critical to early stage companies – from Ann Arbor SPARK.”

Boot Camp is designed for entrepreneurs who are prepared to assess and validate the feasibility of their business concept, build a business model, and find beta customers. Participants get hands-on assistance to test ideas over an intense multi-week program, interacting with multiple mentors and early stage investors.

The winning company, CampGig.com, is a summer camp staffing solution. It brings camps and staff together via an interactive online platform. Its content and site functionality, designed by summer camp owners, reduces the time, effort, and money spent by camps every year when finding staff.

“The feedback and coaching we received while in the Boot Camp, including an emphasis on customer discovery, helped launch CampGig to the next level,” said founder Curtis McFall, describing his experience. “Everyone involved, from the Ann arbor SPARK management team to the coaches, mentors, and other Boot Camp participants were fully engaged in the process, making it an extremely valuable experience for our company.”

“The money we received from Boot Camp will allow us to ramp up our marketing efforts, hire our first employee, and continue developing our core software,” he added.

Runner up Breath of Life is a software platform that promotes meditation, relaxation, stress reduction, and sleep induction through deep slow breathing supported by auditory biofeedback. Using only a smartphone, the software measures respiratory rhythms of the user and generates a tapestry of soothing sounds that ebb and flow with the breath in real time.

“Ann Arbor SPARK’s Boot Camp was immensely helpful for us,” said Breath of Life founder Ben Collins. “The customer discovery exercises really helped us test our idea in the real world, and will certainly impact our direction going forward. The mentoring sessions were completely game-changing. We were paired with people who've walked the same path we're currently on, and it's hard to overstate the value of those conversations. As far as the winnings go, we’re evaluating opportunities in marketing and user acquisition.”

About Ann Arbor SPARK

Ann Arbor SPARK, a non-profit organization, is advancing the region by encouraging and supporting business acceleration, attraction and retention. The organization identifies and meets the needs of business at every stage, from start-ups to large organizations. Ann Arbor SPARK collaborates with business, academic, government, and community investor partners including the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, Washtenaw Community College, Washtenaw County, Livingston County, the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti SmartZone (LDFA), Washtenaw County etcs/Michigan Works!, the City of Ann Arbor, Bank of Ann Arbor and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. For more information, please call (734) 761-9317 or visit www.AnnArborUSA.org.

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