The second annual [Re]Verse Pitch Competition wrapped up on Tuesday night with the $10,000 innovation prize going to the social entrepreneur team behind GrubTubs. 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 focus of the winning pitch by GrubTubs was to use inedible canned goods from Central Texas Food Bank to make affordable, high protein livestock feed.

On Dec. 6, eight finalists pitched their repurposing business ideas to recycle or reuse byproduct materials from six participating Austin businesses and non-profits. Austin Creative Reuse, Central Texas Food Bank, In N Out Burger, Half Price Books, LIVESTRONG Foundation and the City of Austin Transportation Department pitched various types of materials currently being discarded as waste at the competition’s opening event in October during SXSW Eco. Entrepreneurs were inspired to look at these waste streams as potential profitable ventures—creating jobs and revenue for the Austin economy while reducing waste and helping the environment.

The GrubTubs team plans to use the winnings to seed their new social enterprise; beginning with exploring the equipment needed to shred inedible canned goods so the food contents can be accessed. The company then plans to create a process to feed the contents of the canned goods to grubs (larvae from the Black Soldier Fly). These grubs can eat anything and will break down all of the food waste. And in the final step, the fattened grubs will be fed to local chickens. 

Robert Olivier of GrubTubs shows a sample food scrap collector to the 2016 [Re]verse Pitch judges. Judges pictured, from front to back: Zoe Schlag, Kyle Ballarta, and Rosa Rios Valdez.

Robert Olivier of GrubTubs shows a sample food scrap collector to the 2016 [Re]verse Pitch judges. Judges pictured, from front to back: Zoe Schlag, Kyle Ballarta, and Rosa Rios Valdez.

 $10,000 innovation prize given for innovative livestock feed idea.

“As Farm to Table has become vital for local farmers, GrubTubs goes Table to Farm by reducing feed costs for local farms. This could be a game changer, all because these hungry grubs can use excess nutrients that are no longer fit for human consumption. Now your donations to the food bank will benefit our local chicken farmers as well,” said GrubTubs team member Robert Olivier.

The second place winning team, GRUB, also presented a business plan for repurposing expired canned goods. This team, led by Melissa Meyer was awarded a combination of business education prizes valued at $750.

Austin Cubed, presented by Cory Skuldt of the Bard Sustainability MBA Team, proposed to turn vinyl street banners and mesh plastic bags into seating cubes. The colorful cube-shaped seats received the People’s Choice honorable mention award.

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

The remaining five finalists also made impressive pitches for a variety of business concepts:

  • Charles Bradbury- Pulp Fashion | Repurposing: Vinyl street banners, mesh plastic bags, & fabric samples
  • Gabriel Rocha- ACL Survival Bags | Repurposing: Vinyl street banners
  • Re:3D- 3D Printing from Post-Consumer Waste | Repurposing: Mesh Plastic Bags
  • Rowan Rodriguez- [RE]Charge | Repurposing: Vinyl street banners
  • Team E- Recover Austin | Repurposing: Vinyl street banners

    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