On October 5 I attended the 2011 Florida Venture Forum fourth annual Early Stage Venture Capital Conference at the beautiful Reunion Resort in Orlando, Florida. About 200 people attended – about the same as the last year. The conference agenda included a statewide collegiate business plan competition presentation session in the morning and afternoon early-stage company presentations.
I, unfortunately, did not attend the business plan competition in the morning session (got busy talking to folks in the lobby about the launch of Florida Venture Sourcing). But I did hear the winner present later in the afternoon session, Collaborative Bioscience – a healthcare startup in Miami. The company is headed up by Mark Slaughter, an MBA student at the University of Miami. Collaborative Bioscience is a surgical and diagnostic equipment logistics service. They are developing a process that mobilizes equipment between hospitals in a healthcare system based on patient and doctor demand. It promises to reduce hospital capital equipment costs without sacrificing patient and doctor access to the equipment. A very interesting concept that could gain traction.
17 seed/early-stage Florida companies were selected by the Forum to present in the afternoon session. Here are the companies that presented:
SeaRobotics Corp, (www.searobotics.com), Palm Beach Gardens – a company developing autonomous robotic marine systems. Their product focus covers two new and important markets for unmanned systems technology; Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs or robotic boats), and autonomous Hull Grooming Systems (HullBUG).
Copley Retention Systems, (www.copleysystems.com), Weston – a company developing a social networking platform that is designed to increase student retention rates.
JumpStart Wireless Corporation, (www.jumpstartwireless.com), Delray Beach – a company providing custom business mobile apps without custom programming. Existing customers include Toyota, Ecolab, and Fluor as well as government agencies, in industries including field service, facility management, construction, and healthcare.
HercuWall Inc, (www.HercuWall.com), Sunrise – a company that manufactures and markets HercuWall(R), a high-performance, pre-engineered wall system that is superior in structural strength and performance to block and wood frame construction utilizing a proprietary patented concrete composite technology.
Igenti, Inc. (www.igenti.com), Winter Garden – a company developing an online marketing and contact interaction system which provides marketing services to small organizations under both full-service (do-it-for-me) and self-service models.
Intermodal Marine Lines, LLC, (www.intermodalmarine.com), Fort Lauderdale – a company developing an environmentally friendly, multi-modal freight vessel. This vessel is a green alternative to trucking and railroads that serves the needs of both commercial and naval applications.
COWs – USA, LLC (www.866-Get-A-COW.com) Miami – a company that manufactures COWs, Container on Wheels, and offers its products in a unique partnership to moving and storage businesses.
Ocean Biomedicines, Inc., Vero Beach – a company commercializing human pharmaceutical products that are being developed at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (HBOI) in Ft. Pierce, Florida.
Physical Health Insights, LLC, (www.physicalhealthinsights.com), Palm Harbor – a company developing an on-line assessment program to identify the risk for injury or arthritis in the ten major body regions.
Raw Talent, Inc., (www.rawtalentguitar.com), Boca Raton – a company that has developed a guitar training system and features a guitar-to-USB cable, allowing a student to learn to play on their own guitar.
Savvy Penny (Green Virtual Solutions LLC), (www.savvypenny.com), Plantation – a company developing an in-store digital coupon network designed for supermarkets.
Sundrop Mobile, Inc., (www.sundropmobile.com), Maitland, is a loyalty program provider which has developed a system that replaces plastic loyalty cards with customers’ mobile phone numbers.
True-Safe Technologies, Inc., (www.true-safe.com), St. Cloud – a company that has developed an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) for use in homes in the USA and Canada in need of protection from the effects of arcing, which is recognized to be the primary cause of electrical fires.
Water Optimizer, (www.wateroptimizer.com), Tampa – a company developing a remote monitored electronic controller that allows for the consumer to irrigate their landscaping when it needs it, in the amount that is needed.
Zentila, (www.zentila.com), Winter Garden – a company developing a booking engine for meetings and conventions that brings hotels and their corporate and association customers together through a complete booking process.
LED Source, LLC, (www.LEDSource.com), Wellington, is in the business of LED Lighting sales and value-added distribution and has recently started to sell franchises.
ConvergTV, Inc., (www.convergTV.com), Merritt Island – a new media company that uses a network of “disenfranchised content producers”, digital editing software tools, and licensed distribution platform to create and distribute media on “three screens” (TV, PC and mobile devices.
This year’s presentations were substantially better than previous years. Kudos to the coaches assigned to these companies! Only a handful, however, have the requisites most investors are looking for: 1) a compelling business model that scales, 2) intellectual property or “secret sauce” that differentiates and provides barriers to entry,
and 3) an addressable market and sufficient revenue in the out-years which would warrant the investment the company is seeking.
JumpStart Wireless was selected as the conference winner and will be presenting at the annual Florida Venture Forum Venture Capital Conference, which will be held in Naples in late January of next year.
I would be remiss in not mentioning that this year the Forum had a panel on the stage listening to each presenter and then asking questions during a 5-minute session after each talk. This was a great addition to the conference and gave the presenters valuable feedback. Of all of these panelists, I particularly want to single out Greg Baty of Hamilton Lane – he lasered in on the key issues an investor would have with each one of the startups in his session. Every startup would do well to get some of Greg’s time!