National startup competition picks a winner in Las Vegas

After a nationwide search to find the hottest new tech companies and a final contest today in Las Vegas, Maxwell Health, a health care services company, was named the winner of the Tech Cocktail Celebrate startup competition.

Maxwell Health — which is based in Cambridge, Mass., and New York — offers a set of services that employers can offer to workers along with traditional health plans.

The services include a web interface for employees to track benefits and other wellness programs and a concierge service for getting assistance with medical care and insurance needs.

Co-founder and CEO Veer Gidwaney said his company would use the $10,000 prize money to hire three interns as the business grows.

Tech Cocktail uses its website and events in cities around the nation to let startups show off and pitch their ideas and products. The company moved to Las Vegas with some encouragement of the Vegas Tech Fund and Downtown Project late last year.

Founder Frank Gruber said Tech Cocktail put together the Celebrate event in less than five months in an effort to put a capstone on their year-round events and coverage of startups.

The company organized events in different cities where a team of judges as well as the audience would vote for the best startup. The winners in each city were invited to Las Vegas for the two-day event, where 24 of the 43 companies were given five minutes each to pitch their company to a panel of judges Thursday at the Meet Las Vegas conference center.

The judges selected five finalists, who made additional presentations Friday before the winner was selected by the judges.

The runner-up in the competition was Speek, which offers a simple conference calling system. The other finalists were CPUsage, which helps manage cloud computing; Partender, which has an app and system to help bars manage inventory; and TenderCaring, an online system for families to manage elder care.

Judges included founders of other successful startups and venture capital funders, including representatives of Intel, Google, Snapfish and Las Vegas-based Switch.

In addition, keynote speeches were interspersed in the competition, including Bre Pettis, the CEO of MakerBot; Regina Dugan, the former director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; Matt Mullenweg, co-founder of WordPress; and Zappos' Tony Hsieh.