Published On: 02/17/2021Categories: Agbiosciences, Entrepreneurs

Virtual alumni pitching event opens new doors for Purdue startups during pandemic

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A virtual pitching event has offered Purdue University-affiliated startups the chance to connect with potential customers and agriculture leaders during the pandemic.

Fish Tank was a virtual pitching event held earlier this month during the Purdue Ag Alumni Association’s Gone Fishin’ event, the virtual alternative to its annual Fish Fry. The Fish Tank featured 12 Purdue startups that pitched their innovations to agriculture leaders, alumni and business executives.

“Through a partnership with the Purdue Foundry, Fish Tank was our way of presenting a favorite Fish Fry event in a virtual format,” said Danica Kirkpatrick, executive director of the association. “Our alumni enjoy hearing about the innovation and entrepreneurial ideas that come from Purdue’s College of Agriculture, and we were thrilled to be able to bring that to them this year.”

LeafTech Ag Inc., a startup focused on enhanced crop management and performance, won the Judges’ Choice Award and a $5,000 prize.

“The Fish Tank was a great opportunity to strengthen our skills as a company in communicating what we do and where we are headed,” said John Mascoe, founder and CEO of LeafTech Ag.

LeafTech Ag Inc., a startup focused on enhanced crop management and performance, won the Judges’ Choice Award and a $5,000 prize. 


The startup was recently accepted into AgLaunch365, an accelerator program operated by Memphis-based AgLaunch, to participate in on-farm validation trials.

Heliponix LLC, a startup that designs, distributes and supports direct-to-consumer, in-home greenhouses, won the Viewers’ Choice Award and a $1,000 prize.

“We have been inspired for many years as we have taken part in the annual Fish Fry and received honest and rapid feedback,” said Scott Massey, co-founder of Heliponix. “The event continues to get better each year, and this year with the pandemic was certainly no different.”

Heliponix announced recently that it had received National Science Foundation funding for its technology.

Other startups that participated in the Fish Tank were:

  • Advanced Renewable Power LLC.
  • Gen3Bio Inc.
  • Karyosoft LLC.
  • Hippo Straw (aka Palm Energy).
  • Phytoption LLC.
  • Safe Food En Route LLC.
  • VinSense LLC.

About Purdue Research Foundation

Purdue Research Foundation supports Purdue University’s land-grant mission by helping the university improve the world through its technologies and graduates. Established in 1930, PRF is a private, nonprofit foundation. The foundation helps patent and commercialize Purdue technologies; builds places to encourage innovation, invention, investment, commercialization and entrepreneurship; and makes equity available to students to finance their Purdue education. For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at For more information about involvement and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 5 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at

Writer: Chris

Danica Kirkpatrick,

Scott Massey,

John Mascoe,