By Andrea Karen Hammer
With an explosion in funding opportunities for entrepreneurs, could your start-up withstand the close scrutiny of investors during a pitch event?
Shark Tank followers know that strong presentations, solid knowledge of facts and figures as well as the ability to answer questions quickly and accurately are keys to closing a deal. Presenters at the 6th Annual Keiretsu Forum Mid-Atlantic Angel Capital Expo at The Union League of Philadelphia on October 17, 2018, reinforced these essential qualities.
Keiretsu Forum: World’s Largest Angel Investor Network
Identified as the “world’s largest angel investor network” with 53 chapters in 26 countries on 4 continents, Keiretsu has invested more than $75 million in 148 companies as of 2017. With a unique approach in completing due diligence before presentations and submitting critiques for collaborative input on investment interest, the expo opened with a block focusing on the life sciences. Presenters included:
- SFC Fluidics: Anthony Cruz, CEO
- BrachyThermix: Dick Woodward, President/CEO
- Entvantage: Joe Skaraba, President/CEO
- OcuMedic: Keith Ignotz, President/CEO
- Carmell Therapeutics: Randy Hubbell, CEO
- Chromatan: Oleg Shinkazh, CEO
After a keynote on “Investment Strategies for Blockchain and Crypto” by Mathew Le Merle, co-founder of Fifth Era and managing partner of Keiretsu Capital, the second block of presenters focused on technology, consumer products and real estate. They included:
- Stratus Digital Solutions: Greta Geankoplis, CEO
- Phytonix: Gordon Skene, Chairman
- HCN: Kevin Bidner, CEO
- Portland Development Group Investments: Mike Hubbell, Managing Member
- Jinglz: Aaron Itzkowitz
Information Packages With Clear Responses to Key Questions
As part of their presentation packages, presenters clearly and briefly articulated the following:
- One-line pitch
- Business summary
- Management qualifications
- Customer problem
- Target market/size
- Customers: current/potential
- “Go-to-market” and sales strategy
- Business model
- Competitive advantages
- Exit strategy
- Financial summary
- Financial forecast
Presenter Highlights Expanding on Company Distinctions
Here are highlights of presenters who hit the ground running, excelled at thinking on their feet and made a personal connection.
Stratus Digital Solutions: Greta Geankoplis, CEO
Addressing the growing issue of cybersecurity, Geankoplis noted that $100 billion has been spent on this pressing concern for many companies. She said that three elements are required in cyberattacks: technology, time and targets. Geankoplis added that, with existing responses, it generally takes 6.5 months to identify the problem and more than 2 months to contain the damage.
According to Geankoplis, Stratus is the “only system that operates without knowing that the bad guy is there.”
Instead of a reactive defense using forensics and cleanup, Stratus takes a different approach. The company identifies perpetrators by deploying temporary autonomous servers, which operate inside of platforms.
As a confident presenter who has a global IT background, Geankoplis responded to a question about initial conversion through purchase order and revenue.
“We partner with system integrators and only approach where an accelerated and immediate path exists,” she concluded.
The Hotel Communication Network (HCN): Kevin Bidner, CEO
With the catchy tagline “transforming travel, one guestroom at a time,” HCN offers hotel computer tablets, providing immediate information about the facility and city. Bidner said that the installation of this device in hotel rooms, with an 85% adoption rate, is “disrupting the hotel and travel industry, one of the largest.”
Currently, HCN has installed 9,000 tablets in San Francisco and Chicago hotels, with a plan to expand in the next 5 years. In particular, the company is focusing on millennials, projected as half of the travel market by 2020.
“A big vacuum needs to be filled,” Bidner said. “Data is the new oil.”
In addition, he noted that the device makes food sales easy for hotels and addresses the present problem of lost revenue in this area. According to Bidner, the tablet “improves guest communication and loyalty.”
During pointed questions about substantial numbers previously invested in the company, Bidner offered a direct explanation.
“It’s been expensive to get in the big leagues,” he said before addressing concerns about stolen devices. “Guests will be charged. There has been a 1% incidence rate.”
Portland Development Group Investments: Mike Hubbell, Managing Member
With a down-to-earth style, Hubbell began with an honest description of “bombing” at a previous presentation. He openly referred to his previous fear of presenting until a Keiretsu member encouraged him to try again.
As he spoke about his work providing 40 to 50 high-end homes in Portland’s top 10 neighborhoods, Hubbell revealed that “if you create scarcity, you will always have customers.”
Hubbell also stressed that “knowing your inventory helps.” He said that his group prices products based on those going up or down. Hubbell also stressed that enough contractors are not currently available to build homes.
As a brilliant way of gathering useful information, he added that for every one out of five homes that his company constructs, a huge party is thrown. Visitors have the opportunity to identify features that they like or don’t want, which allows the company to make necessary changes.
Panel on Funding and Booth Exhibitors
The expo also featured a panel on “Jockeys Not Horses–Getting Funded in Today’s Ecosystem.” Panelists were:
- Rob Neville, CEO, Savara Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
- Bernard C. Rudnick, Managing Member, CapGenic Advisors, LLC
- Heather Steinman, Ph.D., M.B.A., VP Business Development & Executive Director, Technology Transfer at the Wistar Institute
Along with some of the previously mentioned companies, booth exhibitors included Mazars USA LLP, ReedSmith, Drucker Scaccetti and others.
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