We’re meeting at Tower Club in the Civic Opera building. The raised-panel walls surround me with the ambience of wealth and the seats are packed with it. I take in the great view above the Chicago River while enjoying the dinner spread.
David Culver, CEO of Extraordinary Success hosts this event to put entrepreneurs in front of investors. Each company gets 10 minutes to present before comments by a panel staffed by Carl Moose of Property Calc Analytics, David Beaseley of Synergy Financial Partners and Ron Kirschner of Hartland Angels. Tonight is the prelude to the big Funding Feeding Frenzy in November. Here’s the story as I see it:
As I heard it –
Dr. Harvey Charles-Kaplan
The most memorable presenter in my recollection wears a rumpled suit and gives his entire talk barefoot. I recall stories of Einstein teaching class in a bathrobe and carpet slippers. No spit and polish–This is an inventor presenting new science—not yet a full-fledged company. As I watch, Dr. Kaplan proceeds to read complex patent verbiage off the screen until somebody with a dose of compassion calls out, “Show the pictures.” Kaplan kindly complies and goes on to explain everything in his own words. Things get hugely interesting. If what he has is real, we are seeing something that will change the world.
A few eyes have already glazed over, but along with many others, I am enthralled as he moves on to show us his mass of overlapping technology. His Kaplan Fibonacci is an entirely new method of generating electric power. It’s passive, requiring no fuel. It creates no pollution. Instead, it cleans the environment. Here’s how it works: Water falls through a spiral, using gravity for energy, creating a vortex under pressures upwards of 1000 psi. That swirling water passes through a magnetic field, eliminating the need for an expensive turbine.
It could double the capacity of hydroelectric plant. In Lake Michigan, it could pump water to the top of the Sears Tower while breaking down toxins in the water and cleaning the lake. At such high speeds and pressures it breaks apart water molecules and as a side efffect, produces hydrogen for automobile fuel cells, or in a water treatment plant, produces marketable methane gas.
With the BP disaster still making an impact, the technology cleans oil spills, transforming the molecules into nutrients that could boost the fish population. It is intended to convert nitrogen from the air into liquid nitrogen. That freezes an oil leak, stopping its flow.
Dr. Kaplan is pursuing 243 patents pending. His personal credentials don’t fail to impress, with a Harvard degree, medical experience at Mayo, and a career in nuclear. Can this be the real thing? What do you think?
Nerve Access, Inc. – Dr. Yaser Maksoud, M.D. University of Illinois
NA-135 is the first cure for Alzheimer’s disease. How many new offerings get more important than that? Insulin is a proven cure for the disease but the problem is delivery. Dr. Maksoud uses a novel nasal spray that is absorbed by the brain in 15 minutes without going through the blood stream. This is not a temporary fix or treatment of the symptoms like existing drugs. This is the first cure. In vitro studies show that brain cells regenerate using this treatment. Academic studies project a 67% increase in cognition.
Alzheimer’s is a huge market and big pharma is spending big money to address it. 36MM patients exist worldwide. This is a 7BB market growing to 70BB by 2040. The competition has no effective treatment—all are symptomatic, yet the top competitor brings in 3BB without curing the disease. Dr Maksoud estimates that NA-135 will be worth 500BB once it gets through phase II clinical trials.
I see a lot of testimonials from impressive sources. The project has already received 1.5 MM in Federal grants and Dr. Maksoud has his own skin in the game. Continuing research shows the same treatment addresses Parkinson’s disease and Diabetes. These are huge markets. Dr. Maksoud has several other products in pipeline. His team is made up of an impressive blend of PhDs with business and legal experts. The delivery method is patent pending for formulation and use.
ExpoInterface – Nick Henning and Mark Marineck
At 31,000 trade shows each year, people throw away brochures and business cards without reading them. Badges, books, brochures, and maps are costly. Registration lines are long and slow.
ExpoInterface creates a paperless trade show. All information is shared from a centralized cloud repository to mobile devices controlled by the trade show. And everybody gets a mobile device—attendees that don’t own smart phones can rent. The cost to the show is negligible and the system adds revenue.
This is a multi-billion dollar market with five competitors. ExpoInterface management has 30 years’ experience in trade shows and sees future opportunities at sporting events, amusement parks, or anywhere there’s a registration line and a payment transaction. Barrier to entry isn’t huge, making this is a time-to-market play.
Silvrspoon – Eugene Revzin
People wait too long at restaurants and bars for their service and bill. A huge gap exists between restaurant and consumer interaction. Silvrspoon plans to become the point-of-sale of the future.
Using a smartphone app, they create convenience to the customers by on-demand ordering at each table. The result? People order more. Service is quicker. Loyalties are built. Rewards programs become interesting. Customers use social media as part of the experience. Waitresses don’t work as hard. Restaurants gain more revenue, see customer feedback and get access to data including inventory, ordering preferences, and facial recognition. When a customer returns, the restaurant has a record of who it is and what was ordered before. Silvrspoon is already live at four locations, has gained international press, and is featured as one of Chicago’s most interesting startups. One member of the audience volunteered a testimonial of a terrific experience.
This is a subscription-based business model. To drive quick adoption, prices are low to restaurants and free to consumers. The database becomes an asset of the company. The management team is young and diverse.
SweetPerk Inc. – Kalan Kircher
Amazon price checker scans a bar code and gives competitive prices while Google and Amazon provide local data. How does a store remain competitive under that kind of pressure? SweetPerk proposes the LiveLocal.com loyalty programs with a unique identity for each neighborhood. Merchants create a perk that goes live immediately. Customers see it immediately on their iPhone or Android and redeem it. They can “favorite” a merchant and link to Faceboook. Eighty three merchants are already on board.
The system creates multiple revenue streams. A chamber of commerce, merchant association, or city manager can see the dollars spent in a community.
What’s Next for FFF?
The upcoming Funding Feeding Frenzy runs for 12 hours starting at 8:30 am 11/2/11. For details, see http://FundingFeedingFrenzy.com
To experience what it’s like to present, check out http://coreinsightstory.com/my-kraken-encounter on this site.
That’s what I heard. What did you hear? Your comments are welcome.
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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.
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