Lafayette veteran and entrepreneur takes top prize at Baton Rouge pitch competition

    A Lafayette U.S. Army National Guard veteran took home a $1,000 prize, as well as critiques and insight from business professionals, after pitching his company in a Shark Tank-style event Thursday evening.

    Wayne Nix and his wife Dawn—both neonatal nurses—started RNvention to design, develop, patent and commercialize technology that improves the efficiency of delivering health care. Though the business recently released its first product, the MultiNix, a multi-purpose tool for nurses, Wayne Nix won the support of Pitch BR judges for its latest venture: 3D printing bioactive medical devices.

    “Imagine you or your loved one needed a medical device to survive, but this medical device wasn’t made to fit you, it wasn’t customized for you. So the nurses and physicians are having to jerry-rig, strap, tape, whatever we have to do to make sure this stuff works to help you survive,” Nix told the audience and judges during his solo pitch at Sullivan’s Steakhouse, where the competition took place.

    Pitch BR gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to get feedback on their products and pitches before applying for a grant through the Small Business Innovation Research program, a competitive program that encourages small businesses to engage in federally-backed research and development for potential products, says Connor Tarter, marketing and communications manager for the Louisiana Technology Park.

    “It provides an air of legitimacy to their business right out of the gate, something companies strive to gain over many years of experience in our field,” Tarter says. “But (everyone) gets so much great feedback from the judges, they can kind of fast-track development of their product beyond this event.”

    PitchBR normally features Baton Rouge-area companies, but Thursday event was billed as a special edition with companies from across Louisiana participating.

    Also pitching: Acadian Labs, a New Orleans-based biotech company, that has a tool to combat nail fungus, and Pecan Analytics, a Baton Rouge-based data analytics firm that bills itself as a company that can analyze data about residents of an area and provide tools on how to reach them for an election.

    Nix says he was drawn to compete in the event for the networking opportunities.

    “I think we all three won,” he says. “Because the idea is to be able to get up here and share the idea of what we’re trying to do.”

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