Blexx Technology, a company started by a 21-year-old UW-Madison student with a new tool to dispose of used hypodermic needles, picked up the top prizes at the Elevator Pitch Olympicson Thursday.

Blexx got the judges’ No. 1 ranking and won the “people’s choice” award in the event, a high-speed pitch contest that gives entrepreneurs 90 seconds — about the time it takes to ride an elevator — to explain their startups.

Erin Tenderholt, Blexx CEO and co-founder, told the audience of investors and entrepreneurs that Americans discard 7 billion hypodermic needles a year and current collection methods are “costly, unsafe and terrible for the environment.”

Blexx has invented a device that looks like an elongated pencil sharpener. A used needle, inserted into a hole in the device, “disintegrates” in less than one second, Tenderholt said.

Blexx was one of 16 young companies picked to make the quick-fire presentations, and they covered a broad range of industries.

Ben Curtin said his company, Floa Ingles, is developing a series of animated, interactive videos to help Spanish speakers learn English, based on the story of a college student who leaves Mexico City for Chicago.

The idea is to “make language learning fun,” said Curtin. “It’s an addictive series that people will binge use.” Read the full story here.