News from Austin: [Re]verse Pitch Finalists Compete for $10,000 Innovation Prize

reversepitch Eight Austin entrepreneurs will compete for a $10,000 innovation prize on December 9th.

The finalists are competing to present the best idea – and business concept – that repurposes a byproduct from a local organization into a viable business with social benefit.

The [Re]Verse Pitch Final Competition will be from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 9 in the Bass Lecture Hall at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, 2300 Red River St. The event is free and open to the public. RSVPs requested. Austinites may vote for their favorite idea by 5:00pm on Dec. 9th by signing up for a free account or through a handful of social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.

The top five vote-getters will earn “People’s Choice” points added on top of the judges’ scoring.

“We are thrilled to see so many [Re]Verse Pitch concepts that solve for real needs in the community and reduce waste at the same time,” said Bob Gedert, Director of Austin Resource Recovery. “We encourage Austinites to check out the ideas and vote.”

Ideas range from re-purposing waterproof clog shoes into safer slip-resistant high heels and using leftover vinyl for new products like backpacks.

“Challenging and enabling entrepreneurs to work with hard-to-recycle materials is a key step in the evolution to a circular economy in Austin – one where locally generated waste becomes the new engine for creating value,” said Daniel Kietzer with the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development.

Proposals for spent grains, a brewery byproduct, include “brewnola” granola bars and “brew biscuits” for dogs. And what could possibly be done with a room-full of wicker baskets? Find out by browsing the proposals. KXAN interviewed each of the finalists this morning, which you can view on their website.

[RE]verse Finalists

Eight finalists will pitch their ideas at the final competition Dec. 9:

  • Sue Sende Cole, Working with Wicker (repurposing wicker baskets)
  • Santiago Diaz, Austin Building Materials Depository and Working Space (repurposing books, spent grain, vinyl banners, water proof clogs, canvas, and decorative glassware)
  • Joe Diffie, The Table to Bacon Feed Company (repurposing spent grain)
  • Aaron Pierron, Non-container Glass Recycling (repurposing decorative glassware)
  • Melissa Rothrock, Calling All Seamstresses (repurposing vinyl banners)
  • Cory Skuldt, Brew Biscuits Expansion (repurposing spent grain)
  • Renata Sturdival, Safe Innovative Heels (repurposing vinyl banners and waterproof clogs)
  • Brandon Ward, Brewnola Bars (repurposing spent grain)

Judging will be based on business viability, sustainability impact, economic impact and social impact, along with effectiveness of pitch delivery.


The [Re]Verse Pitch Competition is a one-of-a-kind social innovation program to turn valuable raw materials that are currently leaving local businesses, nonprofits and institutions as waste into the foundation of new social enterprises. The first-ever “reverse pitch” Nov. 3 drew more than 85 social entrepreneurs and Austinites at Vuka to hear pitches from local businesses and nonprofits that have materials up for grabs.

The [Re]Verse Pitch Competition is a collaboration between the City of Austin, the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development, Impact Hub Austin and the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service with additional support from a wide variety of community partners. Learn more at

BlogDaniel Kietzer