LaunchVT Demo Night celebrates entrepreneurs, dishes out cash

Grand prize was won by wasted*, founded by Thor Retzlaff, Kelsey McWilliams, Brophy Tyree, and Taylor Zehren of Burlington. Courtesy photos

Vermont Business Magazine Over 200 business-minded community members gathered at Hula on Tuesday to support LaunchVT’s 2022 cohort at Demo Night, the program’s annual pitch night and celebration of entrepreneurship. The 2022 cohort pitched their businesses to the audience and a panel of investor judges, including Bridget Croke, John Howard, and Matthew Upton. Two businesses walked away with cash awards and all seven will receive professional services from local businesses worth over $100,000.

Demo Night marks the end of LaunchVT’s annual 10-week intensive accelerator program where entrepreneurs in the cohort work with dedicated business coaches and strategic advisors to address their startup’s most pressing needs, including refining their business models, developing their go-to market strategies, and preparing for future fundraising and investment.

This is the tenth year LaunchVT has run the accelerator program and annual Demo Night. “Working with seven phenomenal founders during the 10th anniversary of LaunchVT’s accelerator program has been one of the greatest privileges I’ve experienced during my career, “ said LaunchVT Director Lauren Bass. “Demo Night was a resounding success, which showcased our brightest stars in our startup community. These outstanding entrepreneurs and their ventures all stand a terrific chance of becoming household names.” If you missed their pitches on Demo Night you can replay the live stream by visiting

Taking home the $15,000 Lake Champlain Chamber Award grand prize, was wasted*. Founded by Thor Retzlaff, Kelsey McWilliams, Brophy Tyree, and Taylor Zehren of Burlington, wasted* is reimagining portable sanitation to make it better for the user and the planet.

Winning the $5,000 Audience Choice Award was Little Patakha. Founded by Akshata Nayak of Jericho, Little Patakha sparks curiosity in eager young minds by introducing them to diverse worlds, ideas, sounds and people.

LaunchVT Director Lauren Bass, left, MC Tom Messner and Akshata Nayak of Jericho, founder of Little Patakha.

In addition to the cash awards, the 2022 LaunchVT cohort has been matched with LaunchVT’s generous service partners to provide them with expert professional support where they need it most. “The Lake Champlain Chamber’s mission is to create economic opportunity for all Vermonters and LaunchVT is one of the ways we do that,” said Lake Champlain Chamber President Cathy Davis. “None of this could be possible without the remarkable support of our sponsors and the exceptionally generous time provided by our coaches, learning session guest facilitators, and mentors. They are the engines that fuel our program and provide the tools and guidance shared with each of the entrepreneurs.”

LaunchVT is a division of the Lake Champlain Chamber with community support from our amazing partners, including: Vermont Department of Economic Development, Hula, People’s United Bank - A Division of M&T Bank, Ruth & Peter Metz Foundation, FreshTracks Capital, JH Capital, Rival Brands, Gallagher Flynn & Company LLP, Northfield Savings Bank, VSECU, Burlington Telecom, Dudley Fund, The University of Vermont Vice President for Research, Merrill Family Foundation, Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC, Scout Digital, Vermont Federal Credit Union, Vermont Economic Development Authority, Tom Messner, Silverlake Wealth Management, Leonardo’s Pizza, Delta Dental, Laury Saligman, Dinse, Think Dynamic Digital, Moulton Law Group, Burlington Code Academy, Forecast LLC, Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies, Merritt & Merritt, The Great Northern, Sisters of Anarchy Ice Cream, Whitmyer IP Group, Bindle, and Mila’s Flower Farm. To see a full list of our partners and the foundations supporting our work visit our partners page.

LaunchVT provides business acceleration programs and resources that empower Vermonters to solve problems and create economic opportunities in their communities. LaunchVT is a division of the Lake Champlain Chamber, Vermont’s largest business advocacy organization. The Lake Champlain Chamber powers prosperity in the Lake Champlain region through five distinct points: seeking economic opportunity for all; celebrating business ownership and entrepreneurship; promoting a robust, diversified visitor economy; cultivating community leadership; and nurturing emerging talent.

To learn more about LaunchVT, visit

To learn more about the Lake Champlain Chamber, visit