The Angel Capital Summit was a smashing success!

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 “ 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 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…

AWhere, Inc.

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!

BHTV Inc. / BoomCloud

George Moore, CEO
“ (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.

Firefly Medical, Inc.

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.

Sprig Toys

“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.

Tx Xchange

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:

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!

2 comments on “The Angel Capital Summit was a smashing success!

  1. Hey Dave, I didn’t get to see the Sprig Toys presentation but as a father I often have the ‘toy dilemma’ — too many / cheap crap –, especially at Christmas! But try convincing doting grandparents and aunts to minimize their giving … I often simply send links to hand made toys just so we’ll have natural long lasting materials in the house rather than a bunch of bright oil based stuff. Point: Sprig is hitting a need.
    I would like to call your attention to two other companies positively impacting society which you may find interesting — Intrago which provides local / last mile transportation as a kiosk based rental system of electric bikes and the like [easy on demand transportation at the right location]; and RedZone Software which is a web-mapping GeoPortal play for disaster management using social-networking methodology to collect and disseminate information from the field [a real-time common operation picture] … ok, full disclosure, I consult to RedZone and I love the market and IT vision! Good Turkey Day eh.

  2. Prism Business Development would like to discuss uses of intranet blogs to store company confidential information and rss feeds to notice internal company folks of updates to company information.
    My focus is on updating product/service training, sales guides, etc. with updates based on market acceptance, customer experience, competitive analysis etc.

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