If you’re a startup looking to raise money or an angel investor trying to figure out how to get a bead on the next new — hot — startup, you already know that there’s a high level of inefficiency in the marketplace. The need for a “match.com for startups” is obvious, for example, yet the attempts I’ve seen haven’t worked. And so startup founders end up typically scraping by with ‘friends and family’ money and a few barely sophisticated investors who can’t really help the company grow anyway.
Enter Kevin Johansen and the amazingly robust angel and entrepreneurial community here in Colorado. Kevin’s the head of the Business Catapult and a guy who likes to stir the pot and see what happens. This time he worked with the Rockies Venture Club, host of the event, helping a sterling lineup of entrepreneurial groups pool their resources so we could create the Angel Capital Summit last week.
I was privileged to be a media sponsor through my AskDaveTaylor.com site, fair disclosure, but I would have attended – and written about it – regardless. There were some dynamite companies presenting, and I’m glad to give you the low-down on some of the most interesting…
Dr. John Corbett, CEO/Co-Founder
“AWhere, Inc. provides a desktop application for visualizing business data… on a map. With AWhere, anyone familiar with EXCEL and Chart can quickly visualize and interact with their business data alongside demographic and other readily available data that drives or predicts their business. Veteran Team: AWhere Inc. has assembled a veteran management team including the recent VP of World Sales from StorageTek/Sun and one of the founders of @Last which sold its Sketchup product to Google in 2006 because of its value-add to Google Maps. $954K Raised: Since January 2007, AWhere has closed $954K of angel funding towards a $1.6M goal via a convertible debt instrument. We have a robust, proven product with 700 licenses sold worldwide. The primary use of funds is execution of sales and marketing efforts. Comparable: MapInfo, our closest direct competitor in the business intelligence (BI) market was acquired by Pitney Bowes for $408M earlier this year.”
I already know some of the people involved with AWhere and think that geomapping and even “map mashups” are a big part of where business intelligence and research are heading. I expect great things from this local firm!
George Moore, CEO
“BoomCloud.com (BHTV, Inc.) is the first commercial social network with an innovative community-assisted search which connects members and preferences thrrough connections with other members, celebrities, trendsetters, products, and reviews. BoomCloud provides a well-defined method to monetize social networks with brands, advertisers, and sponsors.”
This is kinda like buzzword bingo, but there’s definitely still space in the social networking universe to figure out a better way to monetize visitors — certainly better than the clumsy efforts of Zuckerberg and his wunderkind at Facebook. Will BoomCloud be the winner? Dunno, but I’d certainly watch them.
Steve Schmutzer, Founder
“Firefly identifies and re-designs outdated medical equipment used in the direct care of the patient. The company expects its products will significantly improve patient and caregiver safety, reduce liability exposure for the facilities, and resolve key problems with equipment storage. Firefly Medical is thoroughly redesigning the archaic and unsafe IV pole as its debut product, emerging with a completely new product category in the process. The company’s branding statement is “Intelligent Care by Design.��?
This is one of those mundane business ideas that can easily represent a massive market, since most companies go after the sexy, the new, the headline-grabbing, leaving the infrastructure piece to slowly rot without any innovation.
“The toy market is in significant flux with the slew of safety concerns with regards to design and materials used, as well as questions about true curricular value. This creates a huge opportunity for a company to provide toys designed for maximum play value as well as the use of clean and green materials. Sprig Toys has developed a line of preschool products and built a team of managers and designers that can take advantage of this opportunity. Prototypes are being finished, but initial retailer reception to the concept has been very positive. The products will be available internationally for purchase by mid 2008, in time for the 2008 Christmas buying season. With a strong marketing effort, using a combination of media, we expect revenues to quickly grow from $14M in year 1 to $92M in year 5. The company is expected to be profitable by year 2 with gross margin in the 40% range by year 5.”
This is one fabulously cool company. I want to get involved, somehow, with what they’re doing. Smart, innovative, pragmatic, and entering the zillion-dollar toy market just as everyone’s realizing that cheap manufacturing overseas might not be the cat’s pajamas. You’ll see Sprig’s toys appearing in kids rooms in 2008.
Jonathan Epstein, Founder / COO
“Tx Xchange is a web-based application that rehabilitation therapists use to create, deliver, and monitor treatment plans online. Patients use Tx Xchange to follow their treatment plans online. Tx Xchange solves the three fundamental problems rehabilitation clinics face today – inconsistent patient outcomes, reduced insurance reimbursements, and a lack of competitive differentiation. Clinics using Tx Xchange see increased patient involvement which drives new revenue. The company has clear value propositions with credible and supportable ROI.”
Ghastly name, but again, a company that’s looking at something mundane but important and trying to innovate. Scheduling and managing doctor/therapist/patient schedules is important, and there’s clearly a business buried in that space too.
Truth be told, of the presentations I attended, it was Sprig Toys that most excited me. They’ve got a dynamite product and a great pragmatic view of the balance between green, sustainable, wholesome toys and the great plasticization Wal-marting of the toy universe. If I were in the market to make an angel investment, they’d have already received a phone call from me!
In addition, I’d just like to acknowledge the many organizations that were involved in making the Angel Capital Summit a success too. If you think there’s insufficient support for your entrepreneurial activities where you currently live, check out this subset of supporting organizations here in Colorado:
- Capital Markets Group
- Colorado Office of Economic Development
- Startup Story Radio
- Bard Center for Entrepreneurship
- CO Springs Tech Incubator
- CU Tech Transfer Office
- Fitzsimons BioBusiness Partners
- Ft. Collins Technology Incubator
- Keiretsu Forum
- Rockies Venture Club
- Boulder Software Club
- Club E Denver
- CO Inventor Showcase – Nov 15th!
- Colorado Springs Manufacturing Task Force
- CORE Colorado
- DaVinci Institute
- Denver Software Club
- Integrated Alliances
- Linked Interims
- The Magellan Center
Like I said, if you’re an entrepreneur, you can’t go wrong joining us here in Colorado and getting involved in the vibrant and thriving community we have here!