Category Archives: BNC Venture Capital


oil well T2by John Jonelis

What if you can make oil out of water?  What if, you also end up with more water?  A discovery like that will benefit our country and the world.

The technology now exists.  Commercialization is beginning.

The story starts here in Chicago.  Len Bland, mild-mannered local businessman, creates Business Network Chicago — a forum for presenting early stage ventures to the entrepreneurial community.  Over the years, he sees hundreds of startup companies and occasionally grapples with some very good ideas.

Once in a while, a surprise technology comes along that’s practical, profitable, and good for society. When that happens, it’s time to get involved personally and help them along.  That’s just what Len does.  This is a story about that company.


Social Entrepreneurship

Nano Gas Technologies is a company that grows out of the discovery that very small gas bubbles remain in liquid a very long time—much longer than had previously been thought in scientific circles.  If you saturate a substance with oxygen or some other gas and it remains in situ for a very long time, a whole range of possibilities opens up.  One ramification of this discovery is to solve the fresh water dilemma.  That’s huge.

Next to the air we breathe, there is nothing more important to life than water.  And our fresh water is drying up.  There are two ways to provide more water to the world:

  • Find more
  • Waste less

Nano Gas starts along the first path and ends up solving the second.

oil well

Find More

Clean drinking water is the first market the company tests—until the real blockbuster application turns up.  Let’s briefly explore this first path because it’s an important one that will benefit humanity.  The company can return to it at any time, and given its importance to society, they probably will.

Fresh water is processed in municipal wastewater treatment facilities.  These facilities are incredibly inefficient.  Turns out, by injecting nano-bubbles into the sludge, a whole lot more pure water can be reclaimed.  Simple.  The best discoveries are simple.

This is hugely exciting news because the benefits extend far beyond relieving the stench in and around the neighborhood of these plants.  We are looking at the potential solution to water shortage in the industrialized world.  Beyond that, the process can provide drinking water to third world nations by extracting purified water from swamps and polluted rivers.  This is social entrepreneurship at its best!

clarification steps

Politics has a funny way of throwing roadblocks in front of good causes.  It turns out that cracking the municipal market is a slow and painstaking undertaking because there are so many cities and towns and each of them takes a long time to make a decision. Wastewater treatment is a good and important application for the technology, but it’s not a market suited for a new company raising significant capital for rapid growth.  In other words, the time horizon for the served market and the time horizon for the capital market don’t match.

Again, I believe the company will return to this market once it achieves maturity.  Meanwhile a much more profitable opportunity has come to light—one that can propel the company to significant growth on a timetable attractive to venture capital.


Waste Less

Let me tell you about the change that captured my interest in the company:

Domestic oil wells use a lot of water.  Not just fracking operations, but ordinary wells too.  Many of these run out of water before the lunch whistle blows and operations cease for the day.  That means more tankers of oil get shipped from unfriendly places in the world.

At these domestic wells, once the water is used, it comes back as a contaminated slurry.  The standard method to gain value from the slurry is gravity–settling ponds.  Given time, valuable minerals sink to the bottom or rise to the top.  This is slow, messy, and doesn’t do a complete job of cleaning the water.  The reclaimed water is not fit to drink.  It’s not even fit for recovering oil because it clogs up the machinery.  The industry doesn’t know how to deal with the water that remains.

oil well in Rockies

Believe it or not, this water gets entirely wasted.  Drillers truck it to special facilities called disposal wells that pump it back into the ground just to get rid of it.  This reduces the amount of water available for drinking and for industry.

So we’re wasting too much water and pumping too little oil.  Enter Nano Gas Technologies.  They use their profoundly simple nano-bubble discovery to clean wastewater for oil wells.  This is huge because, once purified, oil wells can re-use their water.  That’s right, instead of wasting more and more water and pumping the contaminated residue into the ground, the same water can now be cleaned and used over and over.

That means oil wells no longer cease operations early in the day.  America gets a whole lot more domestic oil and wastes a whole lot less water.  And the company is dealing with the free market rather than multiple bureaucracies.  Everybody wins.


Big Money

This is a social benefit with $35B market in a very short span of time.  It’s profitable for oil wells, disposal wells, and of course, for the company.  An additional 18 barrels of oil can be reclaimed from 3000 barrels of wastewater.  Dirty water is no longer a nuisance—it’s so valuable that Nano Gas Technologies proposes to pay the well owners for the water and sell the oil they reclaim from it!  Now, there’s a revolutionary idea!  Rapid industry-wide adoption is anticipated once the technology is demonstrated.

Here’s a diagram of the process logistics:

Nano Gas Process

Residual oil reclamation plan – Nano Gas Technologies

Fair Disclosure:  I’m impressed and invested.  Who wouldn’t invest in more oil and more water?




Nano Gas Technologies, Inc. –

BNC – Business Network Chicago


This article appeared in News From Heartland 

Photo Credits – Nano Gas Technologies

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Team Interval 7

by John Jonelis

Kids are dropping dead on the athletic field. Dead!  These are our kids—those highly cherished and precocious little brats, grades K-12.  Just a few years back we suffered a miserable year—120 deaths according to the Youth Sports Safety Alliance.  Here’s a huge problem waiting to get fixed.

I recall Coach Bodle from my high school years. “Hey kid,” he’d say, “Scrape yerself off da ground. Yuh got yer bell rung is all.  Shake it off!  Da team needs yuh.  Get back out there and gimme a hunert ‘n’ twenty percent!”  An inspiring speech.  Always got results.  Players knew the alternative.  During my moments of serious academic pursuit, I’d draw Coach Bodle in the margins of my textbook. The result always came out looking like the Frankenstein Monster.  This was a guy whose claim to fame was an ejection due to unnecessary roughness in a semi-pro football game.  But I made allowances for his furious temper.  Had no alternative.  Anyway, I figured the guy got his bell run too many times.

That was a different era. Nowadays coaching is a profession.  They know better.  The liability is huge.  People can go to jail.  Eighty percent of athletic injuries happen at the high school level.  Same old/same old doesn’t cut it and the demand for change rings powerful and loud.

Tonight I get to see Tyrre Burks, founder of Team Interval tell us what he proposes to do about it.

BNC 500

The Field of Play

Last time I saw Burks, he was winning the pitch competition at FFF here in Chicago. He probably deserved that win.  When a social entrepreneur presents his company well, he’s gonna get the nod.

But now we’re in the friendly confines of BNC Venture CapitalTeam Interval 3I don’t know if you ever had the pleasure, but month after month, BNC—short for Business Network Chicago—puts on the best show in town.  That is if you like personal confrontation and plenty of drama like I do.  If you want a chance to rake a budding entrepreneur over the coals.   If you enjoy watching grown men turn beet red with anger in their eagerness to ask probing business questions.  Oh yes, there’s always some smart guy that says, “Wait a sec. Go back three slides.  Where’d you get that number?”

The beauty of the system at BNC is Len Bland’s five magic questions. Answer all five and you’ve probably got a sound business plan.  Dazzling the throngs with pizzazz doesn’t cut it here.  You must address the tough stuff.  That keeps everybody in the room at attention because the crowd gets grilled on some of this too.

FFF 9-17-14 JAJ-2169e200The Q&A can get a bit hot. But tonight, through it all, Tyrre Burks remains poised.  Informed.  Confident.  Pretty much indomitable.  He’s tall, fit, and stands proud.  Somehow, the guy manages to seem humble about it too.  I guess professional sums it up.

And why not? This is a man that knows his business.  Burks played Pro Football—a career plagued with injuries—so he understands this problem on the personal level.  He teaches High School, so he knows the weaknesses in the current system.  I see passion, and passion gets results.  The man is on a mission bigger than himself—Full reporting of childhood sports injuries.  And he seems to know precisely how to make it happen.  As he unpacks his plan, I find myself hoping he’s right.

Team Interval 2

Lousy Records

The way we record injuries just stinks. Most go unreported.  Records are sketchy.  Team Interval 4Many teams don’t even hire trainers. Ambulances get called too late.  Disaster strikes and parents bite their nails waiting for information.

Here we are in the mobile information age, surrounded by advanced medical technology. So what do we do?  That’s right—we drop the ball.  Only 18% of sports injuries get documented at all.  Eighteen percent!  There’s no meaningful data from ages 8-18!  I don’t know about you, but statistics like those get my attention.

Consider it from the coach’s perspective. I think we can agree that nobody wants players dropping dead on the field of play.  Don’t you think a coach wants to know if a kid had five concussions since his Pop Warner days?  Or a heart problem?  You better believe it!  What about college programs?  Do you suppose a recruiter would like to review the childhood injury records for prospective scholarship athletes?  Well, d’ya think?

So how do we get that done?

Right here at BNC, Tyrre Burks is giving us his answer. Trainers will log the injuriesIf there’s no trainer on staff, then the coaches.  Trainers? Coaches?  That takes me by surprise and seems to raise the emotional level of the entire room.  Objections get raised right away.

FFF 9-17-14 JAJ-2168e500

How to Answer Stupid Questions

Bill Blaire once coached football and wrestling—till they politely asked him to leave. When he stands up to ask a question, his bulk blocks half the room.  His deep rumble rattles the light fixtures: “Dem coaches ain’t dumb,” he says with all sincerity.  “And reportin’ injuries is gonna turn out real dumb fer a coach.”   When asked to elaborate, he indicates in so many words that it opens a guy up to liability.

Team Interval 5Turns out, according to Tyrre Burks, the reality is just the opposite. Nobody wants to get sued.  That’s a huge incentive, especially for trainers and coaches today.  It occurs to me that reporting absolutely everything might just be the best CYA maneuver in the business.  And maybe Burks is right.  Given the tools to do it quickly and immediately, a coach will dutifully log every incident, if not for the player’s benefit, at least to protect the old career.

Sheldon Tommygun looks like he’s about to burst a blood vessel and he finally gets called to speak. “An athletic staff,” he says in his incongruously cultured voice, “isn’t qualified to make a medical diagnosis.”

Turns out, when you think about it, any trainer, any coach knows when a player gets his bell rung or hurts a knee. When follow-up is required, the doctor’s diagnosis will appear on the athlete’s and the school’s records. Mission accomplished.  Burks predicts that we’re moving to legislation to mandate this in 48 months.  If that happens, there’ll be a land grab for the data.  And don’t forget the goal—to save over a hundred lives a year.

Janet Case used to teach school and I’ve been after her to write for this journal. “Coaches are disinclined to fill out detailed injury reports,” she says with admirable precision.  “They are overworked and ill-equipped to carry out such a function.  How do you turn an onerous task into an immediate action?”  Yeah—that’s the question on everybody’s mind, but maybe not quite in those words.

Turns out it’s a simple pictorial interface. FFF 9-17-14 JAJ-2178e200All a coach or trainer needs to do is whip out his phone or tablet and highlight an area of the body where the injury occurred, and add a voice memo.  The system instantly alerts all the right people from parents to administrators to ambulance and doctors.  It’s tied to an electronic tracking system that organizes the records and documents.  This is the first universal health record system for athletic injuries.  Coaches can make informed decisions about the status of individual players and the injuries that accumulate in other sports.  Administrators get a birds-eye view of the health of all their athletes and can analyze trends and re-direct policy using the data driven dashboard.  For college programs, it’s like a CarMax report for players. “Later on,” says Burks, “Insurance companies will get involved.”

Loop Lonagan has the floor. “Yer gonna run into all kindsa privacy issues. This bird ain’t never gonna fly.”

But it turns out Burks system is up and running in 16 school systems.  FFF 9-17-14 JAJ-2177e200He’s deep in negotiation with more.  It’s already built with with role permissions that prevent privacy issues.  This thing is moving and moving fast.

Warren D. Mink calls out, “Go back three slides. What’s that number?”  A lot of time gets spent in a group effort at basic arithmetic.  When the argument finally winds down, I’m too confused to know if their sums are correct.

I walk to the front, congratulate Tyrre Burks, trade business cards, and then escape for my train. Later that week I learn Burks landed another huge contract.  Yes, this is moving very fast.

Team Interval 6

Contacts & Credits



BNC Venture Capital –



PHOTOGRAPHY – John Jonelis, Team Interval


Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2014 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved


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Antique Gas PumpBy Bill Blaire – Private Equity Investor

As told to John Jonelis

I’m sittin’ way in the back o’ this crowd so’s I can duck outa here fast. That’s just in case this meetin’ gets outa hand like the last time. It ain’t like I don’t enjoy mixin’ it up—you know I do. Thirty years in the Local #1 boilermakers don’t make a guy soft. But if they haul me off to the lockup again, maybe they throw away the key this time.


Da Stage

This is BNC Venture Capital where it’s all business, all the time. Every company’s gotta answer the Five Big Questions:

  1. What is it?
  2. Why the hell will anybody buy it?
  3. Who’s runnin’ da show?
  4. How does da company make money?
  5. How does da investor make money?

Answer all five o’ them and ya got yerself a business.


Solid Stuff

So lemme tell you ‘bout somethin’s been botherin’ me a long time. resized_hedex7jpg1366040091Mosta what we see at these events around town is high tech or mobile apps. It’s like all the mechanical engineers curled up ‘n’ died. But c’mon—doncha think there’s more to life than apps? I wanna hear about some solid stuff fer a change. Stuff made outa steel ‘n’ big bolts.

People don’t realize it, but there’s alotta technology in mechanical contraptions. Well, tonight we finally get to see summa that.


Da Problemo

All sorts o’ companies is payin’ a fortune t’ gas up their fleets o’ trucks. It don’t take much fer some sweaty Arabs to ram the price o’ gasoline up the whazoo. We’re talkin’ small companies here—plumbers, heatin’ ‘n’ air conditioning guys, landscapers, industrial contractors—lotsa little outfits runnin’ on real thin margins. Fuel prices go up, they start bleedin’ money and that’s a major pain fer the whole country.

So companies is convertin’ to natural gas bigtime. It’s cheap and made in the good old USA. Waste Mangement is a hunnert percent natgas already. AT&T is convertin’ to it. Busses run on it. Even natural gas companies is makin’ the switch! All three major automakers sell natgas worktrucks these days, too.

But small outfits is all up against the wall tryin’ to afford natgas refueling stations. These units is real expensive. And the equipment out there ain’t so pretty neither. These things leak somethin’ awful. Hoses strewn all over the place. And they’re forever freezing up. They’re whuch-yuh-call maintenance hogs. What’s more, there ain’t no natgas refueling infrastructure yet, which makes this a real important problemo.


Da Fix

So along comes HE System Technologies. These guys make a compressor. Now wait a sec! Before ya flip the page, this’s part o’ their HEDEX natural gas system refueling station. It fills a huge hole in the market.

The HEDEX is different: Ten pistons. Liquid cooled. Efficient. Modular. resized_crop2ventsideJPG1366049015If a compressor goes bad, just unbolt it and send it back. The whole works is completely enclosed in one neat package that looks somethin’ like that Mr. Fusion from Back to the Future or maybe C3PO from Star Wars.

The company makes these three claims about their fueling station:

  1. It’s safe—Hey we’re talkin’ high explosive gas here.
  2. It’s reliable and durable—Seen anything that fits that description lately?
  3. It’s affordable—The thing pays fer itself in a year and a half.

All o’ that makes the HEDEX perfect fer small fleets. There ain’t nothin’ else out there fer them kinda outfits and hey, there’s huge numbers o’ small companies smeared all across the map. Translation—this thing’s scalable. That oughta get the juices flowin’ among you deep-pocket investors out there. Yeah you know who you are.

resized_HEDEXlitupJPG1366049072All these little companies know a good thing when they find it. This HE Systems bunch is got paying customers beggin’ fer product AND THE THEY’RE ALREADY PROFITABLE. Dealers in 10 states wanna sign up as local reps. So all they gotta do is train the dealers ‘n’ they got a ready-made national sales force. Simple. And did I mention scalable? Well maybe I did, but ya can’t never say that word enough times.

Then there’s overseas. That’s an even bigger market than here at home. There’s other types o’ markets to consider too. Oil wells for example. They need a cheap way to capture all that natgas they’s burnin’ off as waste.


Da Team

Jim McSweeney is the business guy. His partner’s the inventor and worked for NASA. These two is on the committee to write the standards fer gas compressors in Canada. The Gas Technology Institute picked their system. How ‘bout them fer credentials?

Sure it’s capital intensive. So is building trucks. Did I mention scalable?

Here’s their website.




Photo credits – Wikipedia, HE System Technologies.

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link . This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2013 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved


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Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, App, big money, Bill Blaire., BNC Venture Capital, Characters, chicago, Chicago Ventures, Cleantech, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship and Politics, Innovation, Invention, investor, Mobile App, pitch, vc


30 SecondsFrom the City’s Hardest Rocking Startup

by Jeff Segal – Message Therapist

What’s your favorite place to hear live music in Chicago? What makes it rock? Don’t tell me—tell Gigity.TV, a Chicago startup that live streams concerts from local venues.

To shine a brighter spotlight on the clubs and theaters where 30 SecondsChicago’s dynamic music scene lives, Gigity.TV is sponsoring its third “30 Seconds Over Chicagocompetition, urging local writers, musicians and videographers to create 30-second commercials for 45 local venues like Schubas Martyrs’ and the Riviera Theater.

The winning team gets $1000. Every team gets a $150 bar credit from their venue. And the deadline for pitches is this Sunday, Nov. 3 at midnight.

Gigity.TV founder Rich Seng says, “It’s all about promoting what makes Chicago a great music city.”


A Rock ‘n’ Roll Time Machine

Seng founded Gigity.TV to be Chicago’s rock ‘n’ roll time machine.

“Imagine if you could go back and watch Nirvana at Cabaret Metro in 1990, or the first Smashing Pumpkins shows,” says Rich Seng, Founder of Gigity.TV. “That’s what we’re doing—sharing and archiving Chicago culture so it can live forever.

Gigity Stream

A recent Gigity.TV broadcast

Gigity.TV sets up camera systems in music venues and livestreams concerts—with audio straight from the soundboard—to subscribers worldwide. Sign-up is free, and so are many of the shows. Gigity.TV streams about 60 shows a week and boasts a viewable archive of more than 2200.

“Say you live in Australia, but you’ve heard about this great Chicago music scene,” says Seng. “Now you can watch it live.”

Venues pay to have the cameras installed, then share in pay-per-view and advertising revenues. (The performers get a significant cut as well—Gigity.TV’s stated mission is “to help artists take another step towards making a living off of their talents.”) Once the system’s installed, says Seng, “All they have to do is hit Create Broadcast, set start and end times, and upload the band profile. Then they can go back to running the bar.”Gigity.TV logo

The results won’t win any awards, but the automated three-camera set-up does an amazing job of changing perspectives to capture the intensity of the performance. If you’re a suburban music lover who doesn’t like crowds, drinking or staying up late, Gigity.TV is even better than being there.


Pitches Pouring In All Weekend

Most of the venues in 30 Seconds Over Chicago don’t have Gigity.TV set-ups, but Seng insists the competition isn’t about adding them to his roster. The point is to highlight local creative talent. “Everyone who works on these spots is credited. Say someone at one of the major ad agencies sees a spot and it really gets his attention. It’s a way for your portfolio to reach more eyeballs.”

Previous competitions have invited spots for Wicker Park retailers and Chicago area brew pubs. Teams shoot on shoestring budgets, but Seng says, “Some of the winners from the brew pub competition look like they cost $100,000.”

Flossmoor Beer

Flossmoor Brewing, a winner from the Brew Pub Competition


If you’re thinking it’s too late to jump in, don’t worry. Your pitches don’t have to be anything elaborate—just short write-ups of what kind of spots you’d create for particular venues. (A young girl is above the stage looking out of the window on the top floor ….) Each venue picks the concept it likes best, and the 45 finalists have a little over a month to complete their spots before the finals, Dec. 10 at the Double Door.

All you really need to compete, Seng says, are, “Creativity, resourcefulness, and a love for the music.”


About the Author

Jeff Segal works with entrepreneurs as a Message Therapist, translating great ideas into messages that connect with customers, partners and investors. He also writes at BrokerSavant  and We’re Not Expecting Any Surprises Contact him at or Twitter @MsgTherapist


Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link . This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2013 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved


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Glass_of_whiskyLoop Lonagan and John Jonelis

“I still sez he ain’t nothin but a well-dressed snake oil salesman. Too smooth. Too articulate. Voice too modjoo—madju—modulated. Guy shows up with FOURTEEN team members then hogs the whole show fer hisself. And that video with Joan London—” Then Loop Lonagan shakes his head and mutters under his breath. “Maybe it’s the flowing white hair. Kinda like the guy sold me my first car.”

Dr. Frank W Gibson

Dr. Frank W Gibson – CEO

“What do you want?”  I ask him.  “Should he speak street slang and dress like a bum?  I think he did a professional job of representing his company.” 

We’re at our corporate offices in the backroom of Ludditis Shots & Beer, fresh from a BNC Venture Capital meeting.  Loop’s boots are resting on my battered WWII Air Force desk and his Bull Terrier, Clamps, sleeps under my desk. “Face facts, Loop. Avantcare is solving the alcohol and nicotine addiction problem, and they’re doing it with a natural product. I think Sobrexa is the real deal.”

Clamps sleeping

“Bullshit. They went herbal just ‘cause that don’t take no FDA approval.”

I slide the bottle of REDBREAST across the desk with a tumbler, just to be polite, and he sits up and pours till the whiskey reaches the rim. “I think you’re missing a few pieces.” I say, trying to sound reasonable. “How many times did you duck out of the meeting for a fresh beer?  Let’s take it apart.  Addiction is a terrible thing.  Fact:  Their success rate is three times higher than anything out there.”

REDBREAST Irish Whiskey TLoop slams his tumbler down and Whiskey sloshes across the desktop. “Prove it,” he says. “All them herbal remedies is like that. Who knows what works and what don’t? The burden o’ proof is a hellavalot lower than what ya gotta do fer a real drug. Then there’s always some moron believes in it and says it works.” 

As far as I’m concerned, Loop’s full of bunk, so I’m ready to debate him.  Maybe he’ll even take a swing at me—you can never tell. “Apparently it actually does—work, I mean. Look at all those independent studies. Craving fades in three weeks. After 8 weeks, you’re done. The addiction is killed.”

Loop just sneers.  “Maybe it’s the patient gets killed.”

“C’mon Loop. Nobody gets away with that stuff anymore.”  And as far as I know, nobody does.  Health food stores are staffed by highly trained nutritionists and quack cures get shouted down all over the internet. “Consider this:  Alcoholism is now officially a disease.  With the new health care laws, who knows? Doctors could be writing scripts for Sobrexa pretty soon.”

Avantcare Artwork

Seems like a state-of-the-art therapy to me. “Look, it changes the neurophysiology of the body and brain and it’s response to alcohol and nicotine. It works on the neurotransmitters that cause the addiction in the first place. ” I stop talking because Loop is shaking his head and pointing his finger at me like he’s taking aim.

“So does Prozac,” he says.  “Nobody’s changing da neuro—nooru—da physique o’ my brain.” He downs his tumbler of the Irish whiskey and it occurs to me that alcohol may not be the only mood-altering drug he’s experienced in his lifetime. The way he packs away the hooch, maybe this Sobrexa is just what he needs. “Whadaya see that I don’t ?”  he says.

I settle back in my chair. “Money! It’s like this: Asking an alcoholic to stop drinking or a smoker to stop smoking without any help is like asking a man with a broken leg to run a mile.”

“So what?”

Loop seems to be getting more and more unreasonable.  I stop and consider another approach. “There’s a story about a guy that complained about Sobrexa. Said he couldn’t stand the smell of pot any more since he started the treatment. So what was his beef? All he wanted to cut back on was his alcohol abuse.”Avantcare 1

A wheezing laugh escapes from Loop and pretty soon he’s all smiles, so I keep hammering at him.

“Don’t you realize there’s 15 million untreated alcoholics that won’t even admit they’re sick? Avantcare LogoWho wants detox on his permanent electronic medical record? This company figured out that anonymity is the key to driving sales, so you can buy it right on an e-commerce site—nobody the wiser. That’s huge!  65% of customers click and buy. 9% provide personal information. 15% of chats result in a sale. One out of four phone calls ends in a sale.”

Loop drains his tumbler. “Pass me over summore o’ dat Pink Tit.”

I wince at the popular Irish moniker and slide the bottle across. He refills his glass, then holds it up to the light. “Been meanin’ to cut back. Maybe I’ll give that Sudoku stuff a try.”

“Sobrexa.”  Sheesh—I just made a sale! If it’s that easy, maybe those hockey stick projections actually make sense.

Let’s talk about the Glass Mountain Capital.”

Loop gives me a double-take. “Who—da leg breakers? Sure why not?”

“They’re not enforcers, Loop. This company turns bill collection into a science.”Glass Mountain logo

“Whadaya talkin’ about? You call da guy ‘n’ either he pays er else.”

That gets a laugh out of me. Nowadays, bill collectors have to comply with CFPB rules – that’s the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. No strong-arm stuff allowed. It just puts a stain on the industry anyway so this is a new approach. “You’ve got it all wrong, Loop.  This is debt collection without harassment. Treating people with dignity and respect. Protecting the reputation of the brand you represent.”

You mean you can’t call up some deadbeat and threaten his cat er somethin’?  How d’ya get any leverage over da guy?”

Anthony Nuzzo of Glass Mountain Capital 300

Anthony Nuzzo – CEO

I lean my head back in my hands and grin. “Analytics. They monitor everything and record every collection call, then analyze the data. Say they get 100,000 accounts. They use technology to figure out which ones are collectible and put all their resources on those. Then they match the right collector with the right consumer for a good outcome. That way, they collect more with less.”

Loop lets out a snort. “I ain’t convinced.  You done?”

“No. These guys are way ahead of the curve.  They safeguard data for the client as well as the customer. They’re real careful to stay in compliance. That’s good for everybody.”

“John, you ain’t makin’ no sale here yet.”

Glass Mountain artwork

“Okay, try this: While their competitors are going belly-up, these guys are growing fast. US Bank called them—not the other way around. They expect 80 Billion in collectibles by the end of the month and on average earn 4.25% of that.”

Loop sits up straight in his chair. He’s done the calculation. I always enjoy seeing that look of avarice transform his face when that happens.





Photo credits—Avantcare, Glass Mountain Capital, Tektite Group




Glass Mountain Capital

BNC Venture Capital

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau


Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link . This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2013 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved



Filed under alcholics, angel, angel capital, angel investor, big money, BNC Venture Capital, Characters, Chicago Ventures, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship and Politics, Innovation, Innovation and Culture, Invention, investor, loop lonagan, pitch, vc, venture capital


WeDeliver T2 - photo courtesy TechweekTechweek Part 3 at BNC Venture Capital –

John Jonelis –

The audience roars! This roomful of raucous investors demand answers the way hungry wolves tear at meat. Men and women shout as if in the trading pits of the CME. I see wallets wagging in eager hands, but the kids presenting tonight are unprepared for such a high level of scrutiny and the questions keep coming—one louder than the last. Now the speaker shouts to be heard as the meeting spirals out of control. 

Techweek Chicago

The hype dished out tonight may fly high at Techweek but you can’t get away with that at BNC Venture Capital. Never could. The culprit here could be ignorance or arrogance—after all, the second always breeds the first. But the fact is that none of these companies accepted coaching prior to the event, so they come here not knowing what to expect.

BNC Venture Capital - Chicago - courtesy BNC

And it’s a pity. In my opinion, each of these ventures is highly investible. Will those wagging wallets get tucked away safe tonight, or will one of these teams get some real funding?

There it is! One guy just yelled at another to shuttup! And he used that word in a forum known for its gentlemanly manners. Outrageous! And I love it.  These people are emotionally engaged—they really care—and they show it with unabashed, uninhibited avarice.  Now four more shout all the louder, all at the same time. 


The reigning winner of Techweek takes the podium:



At Techweek’s Startup City event, this company received its $100,000 first place trophy from the hands of Mayor Emanuel himself. For those who are not language scholars, Emanuel translates “God with us,” so I suppose that makes it the highest honor given to mortal man.

Mayor Delivers Trophy to WeDeliver - courtesy Techweek

Along the way, WeDeliver has racked up a shelf load of other awards: First place at Startup Weekend. Chicago’s hottest startup at TechCoctail. And the list goes on. Will they win tonight, too?

Jimmy Odom, founder of WeDeliver, is last up at BNC tonight. He jokes, “The audience is so aggressive, I almost took off during the break.”  And the crowd continues its boisterous ways. But this is a powerfully built man, like a wrestler, and with the lungpower to make himself heard above the din without a microphone.

He stands confident, self-possessed, and masterful. This is a man of color, his dreadlocks neatly trimmed and pulled behind his head in a businesslike way. He wears a neat black T-shirt, his WeDeliver logo emblazoned across the chest. You’ll get the picture if you use your imagination to clean up Matt Guitar Murphy as he appeared in the movie The Blues Brothers.

With a thorough knowledge of his industry and a sure belief in himself, Odom projects the strong presence he sorely needs in the midst of this ongoing commotion.


Old Tech, New Tech

His concept isn’t complicated but it’s clever and compelling. He focuses on one thing and does it well.

  • This is a hyper-local delivery service for Mom and Pop businesses—he won’t deliver over 35 miles.
  • He uses mobile technology to make the transaction experience automatic and GPS to track packages in real time like never before.
  • He uses crowdsourcing to find and rate delivery professionals to build a better team.
  • He rewards professional courtesy to make the delivery experience a delight and build customer loyalty for his company and the stores that use it.



  • People want to buy local. When same-day delivery becomes the STANDARD way of doing business, local brick and mortar businesses will gain an edge over huge online retailers.
  • Mom and Pop stores want to expand their reach. But they can’t afford the time and cost of building their own independent delivery networks. A reliable, high-end, same-day service will give them an edge over bulk shipping companies in the local community.
  • Stores all want to promote their brand. WeDeliver is a clever moniker. It tags to the end of most any business name: “Joe’s Shoes – WeDeliver.” “Myrtle’s Flowers – WeDeliver.” It’s a magnet and a driver of customer loyalty.
  • 200,000 people in Chicago want work. If you own a smartphone and a truck/car/bike, you can deliver. And if the customer doesn’t answer the door, you can text a message and shift your plans. If you don’t satisfy the customer, management will hear about it directly from that customer. Immediately. Electronically.

This is a Win/Win/Win—Stores/Customers/Unemployed all benefit.

WeDeliver logo

What About the Money?

People shout out questions on detail after detail. But nobody’s questioning the concept.

  • How will he scale? On the back of a channel partner.
  • How will he protect his turf? By securing marketing penetration in Chicago, he creates a barrier to entry.

His pricing comes into question and I am not immune to the glory of a good argument. I perniciously bait Odom, claiming I can hire a cab driver at a cheaper rate. The statement is absurd on the face of it, but how will he react in the heat of the moment? His response is businesslike—forceful, but not reactionary, and includes believable facts and figures. I’m delighted with the way he handles it and I tell him so immediately.T Business Network Chicago

His financial presentation is sorely lacking and as I mentioned, this crowd isn’t averse to saying so with plenty of emphasis. He points out that the numbers get crazy after just one year so he’s focusing on the next quarter. It gets particularly testy on the subject of investor payback.

Then one young lady points out that any one of us can sit down with the company and agree to mutually amicable terms. Things get a lot more polite after that.

Somehow, The Business Plan Police don’t show up tonight, and WeDeliver adds one more first-place finish to their trophy shelf.









WeDeliver –

BNC Venture Capital

Techweek Chicago


Photo credits – WeDeliver, Techweek, BNC Venture Capital

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link . This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2013 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved



Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, big money, BNC Venture Capital, chicago, Chicago Venture Magazine, Chicago Ventures, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship and Politics, Events, Innovation, Innovation and Culture, Internet, Internet Marketing, Invention, investor, Marketing, Mobile, Mobile App, Mobile Marketing, new companies, pitch, Social Entrepreneur, Techweek, The City, vc, venture capital


Impact Engine – Part 6

VERBATIM by Loop Lonagan – Investor and man about town,

as told to John Jonelis

PortaPure WaterChildLoop Lonagan here. I’m at a place where my natural greed ‘n’ avarice can do some good fer dis poor worn-out world. This is the Chicago CleanTech Competition—what you might call a race between high-tech global janitorial services. Ten distinguished judges will pick the best o’ da best—companies that’re really doin’ somethin’ to deal with the mess we’re makin’ outa our little corner o’ God’s creation. What we got here is da last ten finalists in our great city and tonight that gets cut down to five.

Every one o’ these companies is a specialist with a different slant on how to get the job Chicago Clean Energy Alliance logodone. You know as well as I do—the only company that succeeds in this world is the one that makes good business sense. But are those the ones that’ll win? Probably not. But we’ll see.

The MC makes sure we know today is Earth Day, which gets a shrug all around. Then he explains how the winners move on to the big international GCCA event and compete with companies from Europe ‘n’ Asia. You heard all about that organization, right? If you didn’t, see the link and the video at da bottom. I got no time to explain.


A Strange Encounter

Lemme give you summa da local color. Things is movin’ along real nice when I hear this harsh voice all the way from the other side o’ the room. He’s yellin’ at an elderly gentleman for nodding off during the meeting. Then he turns his foghorn on me: “Hey Lonagan, are you going to be writing this up? Because I’m going to call you every hour on the hour till you do!”

Sheesh, I ain’t kiddin’. The guy blares that out right in the middle o’ da meeting in fronta all these gentle souls. I’m wonderin’ if any of them clean tech folks ever ran into anybody like Rong Mayhem before.

I know that Rong singled me out ‘cause of a simple misunderstanding. He thinks I’m some kinda reporter. Well, this ain’t no newspaper and nobody sticks me with no deadline. I’m lookin’ for companies to invest in. So’s I keep takin’ notes.

Then he howls. “Lonagan, what the hell are you doing?”

This time I answer. “Just writin’ down what you say, Rong.”

But he’s got a come-back to that: “You know what you are? You’re a legend in your own mind!” Then he repeats it a couple times.

Impact EngineAfter that, things quiet down for a while. And I’m smiling to myself, thinking about the poor MC tryin’ to control the meeting. So I glance over the program and get a jolt. Outa these ten companies, I see two graduates from Northwestern University’s Impact Engine. Lemme tell you about one o’ them:



Portapure George PageGeorge Page is the founder of Portapure and he’s da keynote speaker tonight. He’s also one o’ da judges, so maybe things’ll work out all right after all. He’s a chemical engineer that worked in Chicago water projects so he’s a practical guy. And he’s on a mission. He wants to make clean water available to anybody, anywhere, anytime. To do that, he makes water filtration affordable for the developing world.

Portapure won this event last year and ended up among the top 30 in the world. I first seen him at BNC Venture Capital when he invented a pocket size water purifier. I’ll tell you about that one first:


Pocket Pure

Picture this: Say yer goin’ into the jungles of Haiti to do disaster relief. Yer gonna be

Dirty water

Dirty water

there for weeks and the water is mostly muddy streams and swamps. This is da 3rd World. There ain’t no EPA out there to slap people with fines fer makin’ a mess. Still, you gotta get yer butt out there no matter what the conditions. So whaddaya do? Pack in lotsa fresh water, right? Think again. Got any idea how many pounds a few gallons o’ water weighs? It’s impossible to lug all that with you. Airdrop it, maybe? Not a practical solution.

As it turns out, you don’t even need to carry a canteen. Instead, you take along a little pocket-size device called PocketPure. It weighs next to nothin’. Any time you get thirsty, you stop at a convenient swamp and make yerself some clean drinking water—one cup at a time. You can stay in the field as long as you want ‘n’ you never run outa water.

Gathering water in a swamp

Up till now, all anybody had was water purification tablets. Those take half an hour to work and you still gotta filter out the dirt somehow. But technology moves forward and you might as well take advantage of it. As you might’ve guessed, Portapure is sellin’ these things to NGOs by the boxful.

Drinking water is in short supply across the world. Lotsa people in all kindsa places die of E. coli and such. Kids even. That brings me to Portapure’s next product:


Pure Lives

Purtapure Purelives

Purtapure Purelives

This one’s on a bigger scale. It’s a three-phase filter with a 5-gallon capacity—just right for yer typical grass hut. Hey—people in the developing world want clean water for their families, too.

This thing filters both bacteria and viruses outa real filthy water. I’m talking real nasty critters like cholera, typhoid, amoebic dysentery, E. coli, coliform bacteria, cryptosporidium, streptococcus, salmonella, giardia, and of course, yer ordinary dirt ‘n’ sediment—it’s enough t’ make yer flesh crawl. This device filters out 99.99% o’ that muck—the definition of clean water according to the World Health Organization. And the filter lasts for maybe 10,000 gallons! This thing was tested in an NSF certified lab and reduced the E. coli count from 5490 to less than 1.

Muddy waters

Muddy waters


Da Business

This keeps getting better. He sells these things to NGOs, but there’s another angle. Clean water’s at a real premium. It’s like liquid gold in some places. And folks livin’ there wanna make a living just like anybody else. That gives Portapure a natural distribution network and a sustainable solution that pays for itself. At the same time, they’re putting people to work and boosting the economy in these far-flung places.

.PortaPure WaterChild

Da Awards

This company’s got its share of ‘em:

  • Impact Engine graduate
  • GCCA Global Top 30 company
  • Chicago Innovation Awards 2011 Up & Comer
  • Office of the Treasurer Small 2012 Business Plan finalist
  • Tech Cocktail 2011 Finalist

Here’s a good video on Portapure:

I wanna tell you ‘bout the other companies and who won. But I ain’t got room to do it justice here, so I’ll be back with more.




Meanwhile, here’s a video that explains the whole international competition:


Da Contacts

Contact – – 773 251 5779

1507 E 53rd. St, Suite 218PortaPure logo

Chicago, IL. 60615


Portapure on 5 NBC Chicago

PortAPure’s George Page is Saving the World


Portapure on Crain’s Chicago Business


Impact EngineImpact Engine


Chicago Clean Energy Alliance

.Chicago Clean Energy Alliance logo

GCCA—Global Cleantech Cluster Association

Their ten 2011 winners raised $462 Million.GCCA

Images and video courtesy Portapure, CCEA, GCCA, Impact Engine, and AP.


Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link . This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2013 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved



Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, big money, BNC Venture Capital, chicago, Chicago Clean Energy Alliance, Chicago Venture Magazine, Chicago Ventures, Cleantech, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship and Politics, Events, GCCA, Global Cleantech Cluster Association, Impact Engine, Impact Investing, Innovation, Innovation and Culture, Invention, investor, jobs, Kellogg, loop lonagan, new companies, Northwestern, philanthropist, philanthropy, pitch, Social Entrepreneur, vc, venture capital