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This afternoon at BIA/Kelsey’s Leading in Local BIA/Kelsey launched its version of the Shark Tank start up competition, the LOCAL Liftoff Awards, where three finalist companies gave a short pitch, followed by a brief grilling by celebrity judges Randy Parker, the co-founder of Constant Contact, and David Kidder, author of the “Start-Up Playbook.”

Conference participants can vote for one of the three finalists until 9 pm EST tonight. Here is the information on how to vote:

LOCAL Liftoff AwardsTweet or Email the Name of Your Favorite Finalist. One vote per attendee.
Twitter: #LiftoffawardsEmail:

The first presenter was GoLocal24, a company started two years ago to fill the content void created by the decline of newspapers. The company produces original content which it distributes via social media and through media partners (including local radio stations).

The judges immediate jumped on the fact that GoLocal24 seems to be trying to succeed where Patch has failed. The counter was that the content is more scalable because of its social distribution and the fact that a significant portion of the content flows from one market to another.

The second finalist was Pricing Engine (the guys in the white lab coats), a company that wants to sell a digital media management solution to the segment of SMBs that is too small to be attractive to other channels.

The judges were skeptical that Pricing Engine had an original idea, given the numbers of companies looking to be the trusted adviser to SMBs confused by digital media. The counter was that Pricing Engine is aimed at the lower end of the SMB segment. “We compete with do it yourself AdWords, or nothing.”

The last of the three finalists to present was Punchcard, a mobile shopping app where consumers use their mobile device to scan their store receipts to receive loyalty credit for purchases. The judges praised punchcard for being the most polished of the three presentations, but questioned whether it can overcome the “friction” hurdle of getting consumers to scan receipts. Part of the counter was that the behavior is already developing, for example with apps that allow consumers to use smart phones to scan receipts and track their expenses.

The winner of the contest will be announced at the conference tomorrow. Winners will receive a trophy.

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