Do you want to present your company with a 100% certainty of funding? Truck on down to Business Network Chicago’s monthly meetings. The claim is true—technically. It’s a running joke by Len Bland, who hosts these sessions. We vote. The speakers each get a dollar per vote. Hey, that’s hard cash. All joking aside, quite a few companies find funded because of these meetings—some from Venture Capital firms or Angel investors, some from Len’s own Midwest Renaissance Fund.
I dig my summer suit out of storage, skip the tie and stroll over to this month’s meeting. It feels like a soft spring day as I walk to the appointed skyscraper. Sunny, 75, green trees, flowers. Not your typical October in Chicago. There’s so much going on in this city. Why would an investor go anywhere else? Tonight I’ll see three startups each make their pitch. The elevator takes me to the great food, drink, and conversation.
Changing Patent Law
The advantage of meeting at a law firm like Polsinelli Shughart is the legal update they provide— gratis. US patent law will change in March of 2013. I sit up in my seat. This is important. I’ve heard rumors about it but nothing specific and nothing good. Tonight, they highlight the positive side:
The rest of the world is already on a first-to-file system. Our system is first-to-invent. We will join the rest of the world and eliminate the need for multiple patent strategies. The goal is to provide better certainty about the validity of a patent. In theory, patents will issue faster. It will be important to file fast, but the law won’t affect current patents. Okay, that’s clear. I know what I like about it and what I don’t. They intro the first company:
CBS Foods, LLC
- Shawn Davis, 800-216-9605, mobile 615-414-3317 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Melzie Robinson, 630-273-5231, email@example.com
Do you want to eat better? Are you bored with the usual fare? CBS Foods creates casual gourmet seafood dishes. Tonight Shawn Davis, their CEO, serves up shrimp sandwiches and causes a sensation. This is a quality product—low fat, low cholesterol, high protein, and delicious.
CBS stands for “Chef Big Shake,” a name Davis used on a Shark Tank episode on TV. He opens the presentation with his story—a black man that grew up in an Italian family—around great food.
The product already sells through both restaurant and consumer channels with 5.5M in commitments for 2012. Gross margins are huge. They outsource production to the same co-packer as Campbell’s soup. They can finance operations on receivables. The management team looks strong with industry, supply chain, and operations expertise. They boast previous success in a profitable venture and the CEO has connections with celebrities.
This presentation takes 1st place in the voting, with quite a lot of 7s and 8s out of a scale of 10. That shows a lot of investor interest.
- www.silvrspoon.com 203 N. Wabash Av. Ste 1312, Chicago, IL
- Eugene Revzin, CEO 312-957-5760, mobile 847-877-1128 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Nick Terkay, 312-970-1417, email@example.com
I covered this startup in the FFF Presentation Elevation article. Since then, these boys have polished their presentation nicely in their hunt for seed capital.
People wait too long at restaurants and bars for their service and bill. A huge gap exists between a restaurant and diners. Silvrspoon plans to become the point-of-sale of the future.
Using a smartphone and tablet app, Silvrspoon enables on-demand ordering at each table. The result? People order more. Service is quicker. Loyalties build. Waitresses don’t work as hard. A restaurants gains more revenue. Customers give reviews and a huge database evolves, enabling web analytics, inventory, ordering preferences, facial recognition. Yes, the app recognizes repeat customers and knows what they like to eat, and a restaurant knows who was there each night.
Silvrspoon is already live at six locations. They’ve gained international press and have been chosen as one of Chicago’s most interesting startups. This is a company with a young and diverse team and a subscription-based business model. Prices are low to restaurants and free to consumers. The database becomes an asset of Silvrspoon.
Who’s on Second?
2nd Place went to the latest venture by Kevin Callahan, affectionately known in our circles as the COO’s Bulldog. He’s professional, pugnacious, and ALL Notre Dame. This guy’s an operations guru. Due to a non-disclosure agreement, I can’t talk about his company. You had to be there. This one looks real strong and I give it a rare 10.
That’s what I heard. What did you hear? Comments welcome.
Find Chicago Venture Magazine at
www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts are welcomed and encouraged. This is not investment advice – do your own due diligence. I cannot guarantee accuracy but I give you my best.
© 2011 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved.