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HPG Sponsors Duke Start-up Challenge

RALEIGH, N.C. (April 5, 2010)  Hughes Pittman & Gupton, LLP (www.hpg.com), the largest CPA firm headquartered and staffed in the Research Triangle Park region of North Carolina, announces today sponsorship of the Duke Start-Up Challenge, a student-led entrepreneurship competition (www.dukestartupchallenge.org).

Now in its tenth year, the Duke Start-Up Challenge spans the entire academic year. Teams progress in the competition gaining valuable professional feedback from a panel of judges with extensive entrepreneurial experience. Cash and in-kind prizes are awarded during each phase of the competition, with the winning team receiving a grand prize of $25,000 and office space at the DUhatch Student Business Incubator.

The first challenges teams face are the elevator pitch and executive summary competitions. Semi-finalists are then selected to submit a business plan and make an investor pitch presentation. Seven finalists are then chosen to give a second investor pitch at the Investor Pitch Finals. At the Grand Finale, the winner, based on the results of the Investor Pitch Finals, is revealed, and both the finalists and runners-up take part in an elevator pitch competition.

“This is a great way to provide practical experience to the next generation of entrepreneurs,” says Brooks Malone, HPG partner. “We are proud to sponsor the competition and look forward to the Grand Finale competition.”

In addition to sponsoring the Start-Up Challenge, HPG supports the Duke Entrepreneurship Education Series and the DUhatch Student Business Incubator. Partner Brooks Malone is a “Coach on Call” for the DUhatch program, meeting one on one with prospective entrepreneurs or early-stage companies to discuss questions they may have and offer financial advice.

HPG has a long history of supporting the entrepreneurial community. Additional 2010 initiatives the firm supports include the CED’s: Biotech Conference, Companies to Watch, Venture 2010, the CAFE program, STREAK series, Biotech Forum, the Board Lunch Series and the Leadership Series.

About Hughes Pittman & Gupton, LLP (HPG):

HPG is the largest CPA firm headquartered and staffed in the Research Triangle Park region of North Carolina, as ranked by the Triangle Business Journal. More than just an accounting firm, HPG assists clients in looking beyond the bottom line by being the right people, right value and right firm to achieve each client’s definition of success. HPG is a member of CPAmerica International and affiliated with the Horwath alliances of firms, with offices worldwide. The firm leverages this to provide national and global accounting resources to its clients. HPG offers a wide array of business accounting, auditing, corporate tax and management advisory services. Specialties include serving owner-managed, investor-backed technology and life science organizations, healthcare services, real estate development, manufacturing and distribution businesses, as well as providing ERISA audits, family wealthcare services and Sarbanes-Oxley internal audit services.

HPG has remained committed to advancing a thriving Triangle community since its founding in 1983. In recognition, the firm is the recipient of two Pinnacle Business Awards by the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce; the 2009 Large Entrepreneurial Business Award and the 2010 Integrity in Business Award. Several HPG partners are also the recipients of excellence awards, including the CED Outstanding Service and Entrepreneurial awards, Business Leader Magazine’s Impact Financial Leader and Dealmaker recognitions, and the Triangle Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 and Women in Business awards. Visit www.hpg.com of follow HPG on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HPGcpas.

About the 10th Annual Duke Start-Up Challenge:

The Duke Start-Up Challenge entrepreneurship competition runs throughout the academic year, from November to April. The competition includes an Elevator Pitch Competition in November, an Executive Summary Competition in January, and a live Finals Event in April, with multiple teams winning cash and prizes throughout the competition for the best submissions. The prizes are awarded to overall best plan/presentation and best submission in each of several categories (e.g. Energy & Environment, Healthcare & Life Sciences, Products & Services, and Social Entrepreneurship). Additionally, teams are provided with feedback from knowledgeable judges along the way to help with further development of the business concept into the next part of the Duke Start-Up Challenge and beyond. Founded in 1999 by an ambitious group of Duke students, the competition is now celebrating its 10th year of operation. More information can be found at www.dukestartupchallenge.org