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Friday, June 09, 2023

Rob Damitz started his business, aqUV, in graduate school.

Damitz, 27, first began contemplating the idea of a modified water bottle that purifies water through UV light and filtration more than a year ago with two other graduate students.

Their goal is to use the water bottle to provide clean water to other countries.

"It would be really reassuring that other people can get behind what we’re trying to do... providing clean water for all — for everyone on the planet," he said.

Today, he and his co-founders will be one step closer to that goal after they pitch their idea to a panel of experts in the Evans Champions Club at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at 5:30 p.m. as part of the inaugural Get Started Gainesville contest. The competition, an event hosted by Cox Business, will award $5,000 in cash and $5,000 in TV services for the business with the best pitch.

Five businesses, including aqUV, were chosen from 30 applicants to present innovative technology to the panel, which consists mostly of Gainesville entrepreneurs. The remaining four businesses include Zen Monitoring, a device that detects glucose from exhaled breath; GrammarSongs, an educational grammar program; AzPure, LLC, a sanitizing plasma generator; and Livingua, an app that connects travelers to locals.

"I think it’s just a great representation of startup mentality and (the) entrepreneurial mindset of Gainesville that we can have competitions like this," Damitz said.

The event is open and free to the public after completion of online registration.

Monte Danos, the director of field marketing for Cox Business in the Southeast region, said the event cost more than $50,000, not including the prize. This is the first event to be held in Gainesville, he said, and was a collaboration with Innovation Hub, UF and other local organizations.

"Cox Business is truly proud to be a part of fostering the development of entrepreneurs in the market and truly helping them grow their businesses," Danos said.

For Victor Borsche, the CEO of Livingua, the chance to show his product means just as much as the prize.

"We’re just looking forward to pitching our idea here, hearing what people have to say and just getting people excited about it," he said.

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  • aqUV - a modified water bottle that disinfects water through UV light and filtration
  • AzPure, LLC - a plasma generator that sanitizes and disinfects indoor spaces
  • GrammarSongs - an educational program designed to teach grammar
  • Livingua - an app that connects visitors to local residents for translation services
  • Zen Monitoring - a device that detects glucose from exhaled breath
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