Tag Archives: Angel Capital

CHICAGO SPEEDS UP

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAdapted from the Journal of the Heartland Angels

By Michael Gardiner

Chicago’s startup scene has grown dramatically in recent years. That includes a rapid increase in local accelerators, incubators, tech parks, and similar programs.

The term accelerator is used somewhat loosely, but the prototypical accelerator involves cohorts of between 10 and 20 startups that spend three to four months in a common physical location. Accelerators are sponsoring organizations that provide startups with a combination of small cash investments, intense mentoring, formal and informal networking opportunities, and organized investor pitch events—all designed to dramatically “accelerate” a startup’s development. Typically, graduating companies immediately seek a significant angel investment or venture “A” round funding.

.

The Big Three

Seed-DB  lists three significant accelerators in Chicago: Techstars Chicago (formerly Excelerate Labs); Healthbox – Chicago; and Impact Engine.

Although small in number, accelerators form a significant part of the landscape in which Chicago-area angels operate.  These programs support and foster entrepreneurs, drive media attention, and attract capital. In addition, a startup’s participation in an accelerator tells us something about the company. Techstars, which by most accounts is the premier Chicago accelerator, produces portfolio companies that are highly vetted, coached, and connected. Techstars companies raise an average of $1.5 million in outside capital after the program.

In addition, accelerators take an investment stake and a significant advisory role in their portfolio companies. This level of professional involvement may be a positive or negative factor in any particular angel investment opportunity.  A company that graduates from an accelerator is typically relatively high quality but expensive from a valuation perspective.

.

Everybody’s Got a Niche

More broadly, each accelerator program specializes in a particular field. Techstars focuses on web-based and software companies, Healthbox is for healthcare businesses, and Impact Engine companies address societal or environmental issues. These specialties point to trends in the startup market in general and give insight into the nature of a startup that was part of a particular accelerator.

Finally, accelerator programs conclude with a Demo Day.  On that day, angel investors get the chance to view the current standard for well-coached startup pitches and identify potential investment candidates.

.

Incubator vs. Accelerator

An incubator rents space and provides a central physical workspace to a dozen or two startups.  The startup companies are often sponsored by an investor group or university. In contrast to accelerators, a company typically stays in an incubator on a long-term basis—until it needs to relocate to a larger facility. Mentoring and support varies, but is less intense than accelerators and generally comes from a sponsoring group, mentors brought in by the group, and other incubator companies.

.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What about 1871?

Chicago’s best-known startup hub is 1871, located in the Merchandise Mart. It’s very successful in renting co-working space to startups, hosting classes and speakers, and generally raising the profile of entrepreneurship in Chicago. 1871 does not sponsor or invest in specific companies like an accelerator. But because of its massive size, incubators have sprung up within its walls.  Even Venture Capital firms keep office space in the facility.

 

Michael Gardiner is an Angel Investor based in Chicago.

For more articles in this issue of NEWS FROM HEARTLAND download the PDF.  [click here]

HeartLand Angels Logo 3

NEWS FROM HEARTLAND – the Journal of the Heartland Angels, is published quarterly as an information service to its members. Articles may be reproduced in full with attribution for educational purposes.

Copyright © 2013 Heartland Angels – John Jonelis, Editor – John@HeartlandAngels.com

CAVEAT EMPTOR – These articles are for educational purposes and not investment advice. Investment involves substantial risk. Please perform your own due diligence. Contact Ron Kirschner – Ron@HeartlandAngels.com

For more information, go to: www.HeartlandAngels.com

.

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com 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

.
.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1871, angel, angel capital, angel investor, big money, Chicago Ventures, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Impact Engine, new companies, pitch, Social Entrepreneur

THE FRENZY

Funding Feeding FrenzyBill Blair – special correspondent –

as told to John Jonelis

Bill Blaire here.  Mr. Jonelis wants I should go to this FUNDING FEEDING FRENZY thing. Says I’m gonna give a completely different slant compared to the resta this crowd here. I cut my teeth in the Local #1 Boilermakers, then as a Cement Contractor till I packed up my tools fer good.

Me? I’m always open to new ideas. I make loans to all kindsa people. John says I’ll see someFFF Logo real sharks at this place and that strikes me as a nasty crack but I let it slide.

.

The Sharks

So I get here and whadaya think? Deeze guys is all legit investors. I glad-hand every one o’ them and their little mits all disappear between my hairy fingers. But I gotta give it to ‘em—these guys got balls. They throw money at raw startup companies and win maybe only 3 outa 10—and that’s just if the investors is real smart. They don’t get paid back by the deadbeats neither.

I don’t like them odds at all. Hell—the stuff I put money in gets a guaranteed payout or else, see?

Glenn Gottfried

Glenn Gottfried

Then I meet Glenn Gottfried—real smart guy. He explains it all to me. These is all private equity deals. Not a loan in the house. The ones that come in can make it big—REAL BIG. I’m talkin 10 times return—sometimes 100 times or more. It’s the stuff they make dreams outa. That gets my juices flowin’ and it’s all legal! Hoo boy, I’m gonna have some fun here!

I remembers catchin’ an episode o’ Shark Tank on TV and so I got the general idea.

.

The Hideout

Chopin Theater

Chopin Theater

I don’t usually get caught dead at no place with a name like Chopin Theater but I always help my friends. And it turns out real nice. This thing goes on all day so they got coffee, booze, food, good seats—my big butt laps across two o’ those.  Nobody’s breathin’ down my neck ’cause none of ’em can see over my head. Yeah, it’s all good.

So here I is with my buddy Rocco Spumoni of the Pierce O’Shea Mob. Oops—maybe I oughta call it an investment firm, get the picture? Anyhow, Rocco goes after some gal and I ain’t seen him since. I think her name’s Jane Pickling or something, but I dunno fer sure. Lemme get down to business: Ludditis Shots and Beer

I wanna give you the whole picture first, so in a minute I’m gonna show ya a hard-hitting video from Blackline Review.  My buddy David Carmen is part o’ that outfit. They got that catchy name cuzza the L trains here in Chicago. There’s a Blue Line and a Red Line but there ain’t no Black Line. If there was, you can bet they’d build another Ludditis Shots & Beer right under the tracks.  Chicago’s best potato pancakes too. 

Anyhow, this video gives ya the flavor o’ the whole thing and it’s short:

.

Check out Blackline Review fer more o’ that kinda stuff.

.

The Companies

Phil Murphy of Call Potential  was the winner last time. He gives the keynote along with some guy that makes goofy looking glasses that cost an arm and a leg. But hey—people buy that stuff like crazy so who am I?  Murphy’s real smart. When he’s done speaking he sits down as one o’ the judges. I’ll get back to him later.

The companies is all kinds: There’s the Bomboard jet ski that fits in my trunk and I want one.  John West and Anders Stubkjaer put that one together. Then on d’other sida things there’s Nature’s Little Recyclers, a worm farm that can solve alotta pollution problems.  Blame that one on Ed Hubbard.

Jerry Freeman of PaletteAPP

Jerry Freeman of PaletteAPP

We get an update report from a Jerry Freeman’s company, Palette APP. They’s gettin’ traction now and it’s off to the races.

I’m comin’ back with a lot more on this event so keep yer heads up.  Meanwhile, lemme give you the winners: 

.
The Winners

1stSmart GardnerCarl Alquire

Uses high tech to help city people grow their own healthy food.

.
2ndPortapureGeorge Page 

We seen this guy before and he’s good. Won alotta awards.  Clean water fer the third world.

.
3rdCardoonaColin Robertson, Jeffrey Herrington

Making it super-easy for restaurants to place orders with ALL their vendors.

.

The Crowd Favorite – Geek Bar – David Zoltan

And yeah—this one’s a real riot. A bar that celebrates geekdom.

.

Photo and Video Credits – Royalty Free Images, Glenn Gottfried, Wikipedia, Blackline Review, Donatas Ludditis, John Jonelis

.

Go to – THE BUSINESS PLAN POLICE

Back to – MY KRAKEN ENCOUNTER

.

.

Our logo proclaims “Chicago is the World.” We believe creativity is spawned by adversity. That makes Chicago a growing center for thought leadership in the world.
.
Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com 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
.
.

4 Comments

Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, big money, Bill Blaire., Characters, chicago, Chicago Venture Magazine, Chicago Ventures, chopin theater, Donatas Ludditis, Entrepreneurship, Events, FFF, Funding Feeding Frenzy

THE BUM IN ME

Funding Feeding Frenzy – Part 2

VERBATIM by Loop Lonagan—investor and man about town,

as told to John Jonelis

FFF LogoLoop Lonagan here. I’m headin’ out to this year’s Funding Feeding Frenzy. It’s the big event if ya wanna see all o’ Chicago’s best startups in one place. This time the FFF is happenin’ at a place called the Chopin Theater northwest o’ downtown and I wanna see how that’s gonna work out. Will there be a string quartet? They yusta hold it at a huge automobile showroom which seems weird but worked out. It had about half the floor space of McCormick Place and plenty o’ room fer hordes o’ people to roam. But this is gonna be a lot different.

One thing I wanna impress on your readers, John, is about Chicago itself. You know I love this place but face it—it’s a city with all the usual warts ‘n’ barnacles. And every neighborhood is different, so yer either at home here or yer not. Nobody never gave me no trouble. Maybe I’m no pushover, so I got an advantage. But if I’m gonna tell this story, I gotta give you the whole picture. And I’m gonna give it my best shot.

Clybourn

The Street

I’m comin’ in by train and can’t resist gettin’ off at the old Clybourn Station. From here, it’s only a mile walk to where I’m goin’. That looks real good on a map. But my advice to you is don’t do it. Get off all the way downtown and take a nice comfy cab to the event. This ain’t a bad part o’ town. Nothin’ like that. Just take my advice.

Once I’m on the Clybourn platform I draw in a lungful o’ cold air. It’s feelin’ like the Christmas season just gettin’ started up here and I got a wad o’ money in my pocket. I get my choice o’ passages down to street level. That always feels like descending into the bowels of hell. Mincing little concrete steps winding through grimy concrete tunnels. Once-yellow paint peeling off the walls. And the best part is you get yer choice o’ tunnels! They’s all the same!

It’s still early and the usual crowd is layin’ about the sidewalk. I step over Old Man Percy, ‘cause I don’t wanna disturb his sleep, but the others is startin’ to rise’n’ shine. I give a hearty good morning to Fred and Big Bubba and ignore Merry ‘n’ Pippin huddled in a corner—those two give me the creeps. Summa these people are new to me but you can’t never know ‘em all. Familiar faces go missing but still, there’s never no shortage. I got it on good authority that the poor will always be among us.

People tell me these guys makes Fifty Gs just panhandling. I say it’s a buncha hooey. The idea got invented in that Sherlock Holmes story, The Man With the Twisted Lip, ‘n people been repeatin’ it ever since. If it was true these guys’d find a warm place to sleep. Ever try an icy Bridgesidewalk ‘round about Christmastime? And there’s more ‘o these people hangin’ ‘round than ever. That means more competition. That means harder times fer all o’ them. Sure, any profession’s got it’s elite that strike it rich, but that leaves the multitudes, scrablin’ fer crumbs.

The Professionals

I always say there’s a lot to bein’ a good bum. You feel so warm inside when you drop a buck in his hat. ‘Specially near Christmas. Makes your whole day. Some ‘o these derelicts play musical instruments and summa them is pretty good at it too. Come to think of it, these guys fill an important role in society. They’re public servants. Maybe the city should fit ‘em into their patronage system. It’d mean more votes for The Chicago Machine. After all, The Machine is politicians.  And politicians is people paid to be bums.

Hell, when you get down to it, there ain’t much difference between these guys ‘n’ me. Maybe I invest alota money, drink good liquor, sleep in a warm bed. But whadda I really do for the world? I been givin’ that some thought lately and all I comes up with is this—I provide liquidity. Sounds pretty shallow, don’t it? Let’s just imagine some day I make a big mistake and lose it all. They throw me on the street. In no time, I’m part o’ this crowd. Makes a guy think. Maybe I got a talent for it, though—who knows? But it’s a profession without nobility.

Of course there’s gangs and outright criminals in the mix. Then there’s a lotta homeless people with no hope. Alcoholics, drug addicts, and whack jobs. Minds gone over the edge. They say Old Man Percy’s got millions stuffed in the bank but he’s sleepin’ here on the pavement whenever they shove him outa the loony bin. You think you can change him? Think again.

The Scholar

Everybody’s awake now. I always ask if one of ‘em can recite a famous quotation. Gotta keep up the level o’ education here. So I calls for somethin’ Christmassy. I give ‘em a choice—Isaiah 7:14 or Matthew 1:23, whatever their preference—theys exactly the same text. And Fred rattles it right off while Big Bubba stares him in the face, mouth hangin’ open. Fred’s a real intelligent guy. He’d be a good addition to my team.

Note to John – Why not make him a reporter?

Note to Loop – Bring him around for an interview.

Anyway, Fred’s recitation earns a C-Note for every one of ‘em that’s present—even Old Man Percy and the two Hobbits. Except I peel off ten fer Fred. Hell, it really is almost Christmas. I know most of ‘em is gonna waste it but I ain’t tellin’ these guys what to do with their own money.

Then Big Bubba rumbles to himself in a deep bass, “Emanuel—I thought dat was da name o’ da mayor.” Whadaya gonna do with guys like that?

Note to John— I ain’t had no coffee yet this mornin’ after a real rough night. Too much booze and no sleep, so maybe you oughta clean up my copy. I think I’m runnin’ on like the old days—I mean before I got some college. Understand what I’m sayin’?

Note to Loop— I find your account lucid and concise. I’ll publish it as is. And a graduate degree in finance at the University of Chicago is more than “some” college.

Overpass

Stumbling over the Truth 

Fred and Big Bubba take me up on my offer of breakfast. There’s a good old diner along the way. That’s the real reason I picked this station. But before you get to the gentry part o’ town, you gotta walk under the overpasses. The Kennedy Expressway bridges make natural roofs fer the homeless and the piles o’ rubble at the sides reek somethin’ horrible. Yeah it’s raw but so is any city.

Another thing about cities is potholes. In good times there was always holes in the street. Now, with this economic depression it’s worse than ever. So we’re walkin’ down Ashland Avenue at a brisk clip, enjoyin’ each other’s company and I’m scannin’ around like any careful city dweller when the next thing I knows I’m on my face. Lousy pothole—right in the sidewalk of all places.

Fred and Big Bubba haul me back to my feet and brush me off and I check for damage. Maybe a guy can get away with slashed knees and filth on his rumpled blue jeans but it don’t look right on a $2,000 suit. In an instant I go from Mr. Bigshot to a reject from the Salvation Army. But now I fit in with my companions, so I shrug it off. And I got a mile ahead o’ me to walk off the sprained ankle. But in a couple blocks we reach the nice section and the diner I told you about.

The Private Room

The cashier at the restaurant tries to push us out the door like we’re the Blues Brothers or somethin’. Probably thinks we’ll drive off the clientele. Phooey. Maybe this is a classier joint than Julio’s House of Jalapeños but hey—it’s still a diner, not the Chez Paul. So I ask for Lonny, the owner, and he leads us to a back room stacked with boxes. They lay a nice table for us and the room is perfect for planning out crimes and runnin’ poker games.

Big Bubba orders three stacks o’ pancakes. He butters every one of ‘em and drowns ‘em all in maple syrup. Fred sticks with a piece o’ pecan pie. But I dig into steak ‘n eggs with toast and A-1 Sauce ‘n’ bacon. And more important—a big pot o’ coffee for each of us. Round about the fifth cup I’m feelin’ a whole lot better. Fred smokes a cigarette. We talk. Lotsa stimulating conversation. It cheers me up. Now I’m ready—ready to meet with big money at the FFF.

Back on the street, Big Bubba and Fred part ways with a wave and a Merry Christmas. When I suck in the brisk air, I feel more coherent and alert—ready to pick winners, negotiate terms. Less than a mile left to walk off this sprained ankle. I think about them that puts their heads down on a frozen sidewalk and the ankle don’t seem so bad no more.

Note to John—Do I sound more coherent and alert now that I had my coffee?

Note to Loop—You’re always alert.

The Gentrification

Here’s another thing I find interesting about the city. Here in these gentrified sections you can never tell what’s inside a building. Alotta these are new construction or complete makeovers with big-time brands on their signs. Those buildings are nice inside—most o’ the time. But the others can surprise you. The outside of the Chopin Theater looks like a dump that’s been a dump for the last hundred years. Turns out completely different once you walk in the door. This place is gorgeous. A great spot for the FFF.

Chopin Theater

Chopin Theater

A beautiful lady greets me like royalty. I check the layout. Nice lobby. Nice coffee bar. Nice theater space for the companies to present. Steep stadium seating so everybody can see. Doors and windows floating around the stage give it a class look. I figure them’s props for some production but it’s a bonus for us.

Chopin Theater Lobby

Chopin Theater Lobby – photo courtesy of theater

I take in the morning’s presentations. Then I go bummin’ downstairs. Wow! A huge room with a great spread of food and drink. This is way better than the old place. People can talk and strike deals while they feed at the trough and make all the racket they want. Meanwhile, the presentations go on in the kinda setting they deserve—quiet and focused. Kudos to David Culver and company for finding this spot and nailing it down.

Chopin Theater Stage

Chopin Theater Stage – photo courtesy theater

So what’s the FFF all about? One o’ the most important things in the world—starting brand new companies! That means keepin’ as many people off the streets as we can! So here I am wolfing down food, crackin’ jokes, and talkin’ to intelligent company. Lotsa stimulating conversation. It cheers me up. Just like breakfast with the bums. Now I’m ready—ready fer the rest o’ the day.

Chopin Theater

Chopin Theater – photo courtesy theater

Listen John, I went off on a tangent and didn’t even cover the event yet. Now my batteries is gettin’ kinda low. I’ll buy some fresh ones and get back to ya later. Fer now, have a joyous Christmas.

.

Continue to Part 3

Go back to Part 1

Links

Chopin Theater

http://www.chopintheatre.com/event.php?id=2275&pageId=soon

Funding Feeding Frenzy

https://www.facebook.com/FundingFeedingFrenzy

Find Chicago Venture Magazine at www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com 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. I do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not my fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2012 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

.
.

9 Comments

Filed under Characters, Chicago Venture Magazine, Chicago Ventures, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship and Politics, Events, FFF, Funding Feeding Frenzy, Innovation, Innovation and Culture, jobs, The City

A CONTRARIAN VC MODEL

Midwest Renaissance FundMidwest Renaissance Fund Launches in Chicago

As told to me by Loop Lonagan –

“Hey, I’m a Futures trader but that ain’t workin’ these days.  I seen these computers swallow up 75% of the market.  Used to be 7,500 floor traders here in Chicago.  Now I count just a few.  Most of those oh-so-carefully-tested trading strategies don’t work no more and the old rules get broken all the time.  Bonds don’t look so good either.  Our own government got downgraded for heaven’s sake.  Real estate is in the tank and still sinking.  Even gold took a plunge this month.  Maybe 20% of the country is out of a job.  Nobody hiring.  Nobody lending.  I think the VCs are asleep in bed.  Cash just sits. Lots of it.  This economy is all clogged-up and nothing moves—it just shakes real hard.  The bank pays exactly the same interest as my Serta Perfect Sleeper and inflation looms.  So tell me some good news.  Where do I put my money?  I wonder.  Is this that rare time in an investor’s life when the smart money—the real smart money sees blood on the streets and buys for the long run?  Warren Buffett seems to think so. Gotta go with Warren.

“So the food is great. I like the people. I sit in this plush chair in a room of 60 others.  Not the retail crowd. These are the pioneers of today.   Yeah, lots of ’em got MBAs from Kellogg and Booth and I know some guys here got their Ph.D. I also know some of those grew up on the tough streets and fought their way to the top. Now they’re all movers in the financial world. Any one of ‘em can plunk down a quarter mil without even mentioning it to the wife.  Like tipping a waiter.  I stick to coffee and listen real close while most of my friends hit the hard stuff.  The room gets hot and I take off my Hart Shaffner and Marx suit jacket and loosen my hundred-dollar tie.  This is what I hear:

“Len Bland, Ray Markman and a real big team of experts are ready to launch the Midwest Renaissance Fund.  Len built this organization brick by brick. I watched him do it. That gives me confidence.  Now he’s ready to pounce.  Does he smell blood on the streets like Buffett does?

“I like to see discipline in a fund.  I also like a strategy told in a few words. In my experience, the best ideas are clear and simple.  Here’s their plan:  Invest in and mentor early stage Midwest companies at a discount in under-invested sectors. Hey, that sounds pretty good.  What do they look for in a company?   A good product.  Good management.  Okay, that makes sense.  What makes a good team?  Education.  Straight thinking.  A track record of success.  Those are good old-fashioned business values.  I can relate to that big-time.

“I ask a few questions and like the answers.  This bunch has their own skin in the game—even more, they committed their own sweat. If a company in their portfolio needs a manager, one of the founders of the fund does the job or sees his stake get knocked down.  They even help manage some of these companies before they put in any money.  They plan to monitor progress day-by-day.  How’s that for oversight?  This is way beyond the usual seat at the board or quarterly checkup.  So I sit straight, grab my gold Cross pen and scribble notes all over their full-color brochure.

“What do they invest in?  Mobile apps?  Biotech?  Silicon Valley?  Nope.  They’re into consumer packaged goods, software, financials, healthcare, clean tech—wherever their team can make a difference.  All under-invested sectors.  That means Midwest businesses.  The Big Ten states.  The breadbasket of the world where you almost never see a VC.  And their target is a sweet spot called “The Valley of Death.”  Don’t let that throw you.  It’s is a stage in a company’s life when they’re too big for Angels and too small for VCs so they can’t get funded no matter how good they are.  And what kinda return do they expect?  They’re talking 25-35% IRR.  That’s huge.  I scooch up straighter in my chair but I notice that the numbers don’t faze anybody in the room.  That’s normal stuff in the VC world.

“What’s safe these days?  Sounds like venture capital might be.  Strange world, isn’t it?  Renaissance is gonna stay small and nimble and they’re already 85% of the way to their funding target.  That means I gotta get my research done and make up my mind.  Am I in or out?”

That’s what I heard.  What did you hear?  Comments welcome.  View the Midwest Renaissance Fund website at www.midwestrenaissance.com

.

Go to – EVERYBODY GETS FUNDED

Go to – BNC SUMMER #4

.

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.

Copyright © 2011 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved.

15 Comments

Filed under BNC Venture Capital, Chicago Ventures, Events, Midwest Renaissance Fund

THE MIT WHITEBOARD

John Jonelis

White Board Challenge

MIT ENTERPRISE FORUM – CHICAGO
We’re planning the new season at MITEF–a good time to reflect. To me, this is a premier event:

As I heard it –

The Challenge: 
1.) Present an overview of your idea in less than 5-minutes
2.) No slides, no assistants—White board only.

An interesting note—all four winners received coaching from my colleague Terry Flanagan. 

CommuniTeach – Sarah Press

This was a sparkling presentation with an imaginative collaborative approach to education-on-demand.  It might be called a “Meet-up.com for learning.”  They provide free learning communities.  Clients sign up and create profiles with skills they want to learn and skills they want to teach.  Teachers and students meet on a the web.  The pilot project is scheduled for this summer. The company goes beyond the not-for-profit scheme and is also testing private paid networks for corporations.  Companies spend 140BB on training each year, $40BB on training consultants. Communiteach is a way to use existing employees to do the jobs that are typically hired out.  It builds a social network between employees.  Communiteach has gained CNN exposure and interest throughout country. They offered an invitation to their audience to learn or teach what they want. The company is based in Chicago and Pittsburg.  Will they be able to make it a reality?

CVT Innovations Corp.  – Thomos Capote

The technology – Continuously variable transmission for heavy equipment to offer a 20% fuel savings to the nation’s truck fleet and other large equipment. That’s huge. CVTs are already available in light cars but so far have not proven durable enough for heavy equipment because exisiting CVTs use pulleys and belts that are prone to failure.  Solution—a patented design replaces pulleys with toothed gears.  Belts are replaced with chains.  Result—The CVT produces high torque and can be used in SUVs, trucks—even ships.  The  US consumed 200BB gallons/yr on the road.  Cut that by 20% and you’ve solved a big part of the energy crisis.  The biggest gain for the country as a whole is to install CVTs in large fuel-burning vehicles.  They plan to offer CVTs to existing industries and license the technology.  CVT Innovations profits from royalties and consulting engineering.  Opportunities are forseen for joint ventures.  The application isn’t limited to heavy equipment since CVTs are lighter than automatic transmissions and could replace existing units in light cars. Can they gain industry acceptance and attention?

M.O.R.E. Live – Urba Mandrekar/Blak Wolfe

Technology—A mobile operating-room.  The goal is to improve how you respond to natural disasters.  During the Haiti earthquake, hospitals were overwhelmed. People flooded the city spreading disease. M.O.R.E. deploys modular tents to deploy and assemble as portable hospitals in remote locations.  The US Military has a DRASM tent which weighs 5-10 tons, needs a truck to deploy, cost 100K and most importantly—cannot reach remote locations.  M.O.R.E. has a better tent.  It weighs only 5,000 lb and breaks into components to be carried as backpacks into remote regions.  The cost is only $10K per unit.  Each tent features 600W of self-sustained power, LED lighting, an air compressor, an operating table, and a medical cabinet.  The roof is designed to create a sterilized sheet of air.  It’s a complete mobile operating room, easily transported and used in remote locations.  In a world of natural and man-made disasters, can they deploy this technology and help the world?

Fun Captcha – Bryan Arturo

This is an imaginative idea offering by a strong speaker—interactive Internet advertisements based on captchas. (Captchas are warped text posted by sites to differentiate humans from computers.)  For example: Post an ad showing a bottle of Coke next to a tabby cat. Question—“What’s next to the Coke?” You answer—“Cat,” or you click on the cat.  Result—Coke has scored an ad.  It’s fun. It’s visual. It attracts attention.  It encourages clicks.  It’s a new way to advertise on the Internet. Do you see its potential?

Energy Recovery Technologies – Ron Fleckman

The technology—Re-cycle outgoing HVAC to reduce energy used in the heating/cooling cycle.  Their technology is called ERV—Energy Recovery Ventilation.  It increases energy efficiency in large buildings.  HVAC is the largest hog of energy in commercial buildings.  There is a need because the existing technology hasn’t been effective for 30 years.  ERV separates both heat and moisture from air.  It’s a simple process with high reliability high and 90% efficient.  Efficiency is monitored and transferred via web for remote management.  It’s already tested in two stores—Florida and Chicago, and succeeded in cutting energy in half.  ERV carries an estimated nine month payback.  They see a 14BB overall market.  How much of that market can they capture?

Fear Experiment – Saya Hillman, Mac’n Cheese Productions

Saya told stories about her to-do list—all the things she wanted to learn to do.  Story #1 was to learn to dance.  Using email, she sourced 50 people that considered themselves bad dancers.  She rented a dance studio and hired an instructor.  They learned and at the end of the training, performed on stage for $17/ticket.  Story #2 was for those who believe they are bad at improv.  Same model.  Story #3 was all about leveraging the previous groups.  Called “Fear Experiment,” she used the previous groups to teach underprivileged kids to get over their fears.  At the end, they put on a big show.  Can she make headway as a non-profit or monetize the idea for the consumer?

Blood Vessel “Bulls-Eye” Locator – Colin O’Donovan

Technology—Creates a “bulleseye” to target for a hypodermic needle.  If you’ve ever had a bad experience with nurses and needles, listen up.  Today, medical professionals locate patient’s veins visually and 77% don’t find the target on the first try.  Nine attempts are typical and it can easily take 45 min.  A critical patient can die by that time.  This new offering uses an electronic chip installed in a patch to give a bulls-eye location for needle. The marketing strategy is like the razor blade model.  Low up-front cost, revenue on the disposables.  The product sells for $20, profit is $16.  If there are 15 MM procedures, that equated to 250MM in revenue for the entire market.  If they only capture 1% of the market, they still gain 8MM in gross revenue. Do you want your next shot to use this technology?

I-Go Peer-to-Peer Car Sharing – John Brophy

Problem—It costs $8K/yr to own a car in Chicago when you add up insurance, gas, maintenance, tickets, parking, tolls, cost of lease or purchase. Solution—A peer-to-peer car sharing service using cell phone or laptop.  You make a reservation. A car in your area gives a signal.  You use the car and bring it back full of gas.  Currently 8K cars are shared by 500K people.  They expect 4MM members by 2013. The company doesn’t maintain a fleet because members both borrow and share.  To share or borrow a car, you set up a profile online. Then you rate your experience. Their competitor—Zip Car, doesn’t have peer-to-peer rental.  Will people be willing to share their cars?

Energy Distribution Unit (EDU) – Eduardo Sampedro

Technology—A solution to the problem of standby energy consumption (wasted power). It’s modular and scalable.  On a small scale, it’s a portable power strip on steroids.  On a large scale, it’s a central unit that can calculate metrics and transmit them by Internet to provide statistical analysis of power use in a  homes and offices.  The existing technology is expensive.  These modules are only $15-$45 each. Is the world ready for a better power strip?

Green Zephyr, Inc. – Michael R. Weinman

What’s on your table and how did it get there?  Goal—to deliver fresh produce to your table faster.  Solution—Green Zephyr can piggy-back four trucks per railroad car—a low-tech solution to fast shipping.  The company is already profitable. I like the words, “Already profitable,” but what kind of return can they generate? 

That’s what I heard. What did you hear? Your comments are welcome.

.

GO TO – MIT WHITEBOARD CHALLENGE

.

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.

Copyright © 2011 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved.

5 Comments

Filed under MIT Enterprise Forum