Savannah-area startups woo investors

Article on Savannah Now by Julia Ritchey.

One Savannah startup wants to make wearable technology affordable, another wants to create an app to make parking tickets less of a hassle to pay, another firm is catching skin cancer in its earliest stages through a preventative health tracker. Savannah is no Palo Alto, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking for bright ideas. A series of events this fall is elevating the profile of some of the Hostess City’s newest entrepreneurs and startups and attracting big money to the area to turn their ideas into profits. On Friday, seven area startups gave their slickest 10-minute pitches to a roomful of investors at the SCAD Museum of Art, hoping to lure dollars from visiting venture capital firms from places like Atlanta and San Francisco. The pitch event was part of InvestSavannah, a partnership between The Creative Coast, the Technology Association of Georgia, Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center, SCAD and others to connect local entrepreneurs and investors. With workshops, one-on-one mentoring and networking events like the Creative Coast’s StartupLounge on Thursday, organizers say these initiatives underscore the need to provide more opportunities for early-stage startups and college graduates who’d like to make Savannah their home base. “We believe there’s potential deal-flow this afternoon, and this could be a first sell,” said Brady Cannon, program director for TAG Savannah. “We believe this is the start of something special.” Caleb Sexton was the first presenter, pitching his mobile health care company called Dermitrax, which is designed to track, monitor and log skin moles before they become potentially cancerous. Sexton said the mobile health market is expected to grow to $26 billion by 2016, with oncologists, dermatologists, hospitals and clinics being the prime demographic for Dermitrax. “Our ask: We’re looking to raise $1 million over the course of three years,” said Sexton. “That allows us to finish our technology while also giving us the platform to expand into other applications.” Local entrepreneur Ian Nott pitched investors on the future of DIY filmmaking using robotics and wearable tech, especially in light of new products hitting the market like Google Glass and the virtual reality headset startup Oculus Rift, acquired by Facebook for $2 billion. His company, Aetho, is developing affordable, handheld companion products for the GoPro line of personal cameras as well as a wearable headset with video capture and playback abilities. “What we’re trying to do is revolutionize and transform the way people create video content,” said Nott. “The entire landscape is changing, and Aetho is right in the center of that.” Jamie Bowerman of Bowerbags came to the stage sporting one of his products, a gray and orange five-in-one modular backpack whose straps can be customized and reconfigured using their patented buckle system. “The global luggage market is $50 billion in 2015. It’s a saturated space, but only two key factors will get you into it: innovation and enhancement. Those are our gateways to getting in,” said Bowerman. He said his company had already held successful crowd-funding campaigns and developed relationship with direct-to-consumer sales, including through SkyMall. He said the company needed $250,000 to restock inventory and keep up with demand. Other pitches included a Web application aimed at streamlining certificates of insurance, sustainability consultant Tommy Linstroth’s Green Badger App to manage LEED certification projects and CREATOMbuilder, a Web-based education tool to promote project-based learning. Ending the day with a humorous presentation highlighting the annoyance of receiving and paying parking tickets, Qwigget App co-founders Tristan Steele and Steven Hall said their software would be “the quickest way to pay your traffic ticket.” Steele said they were in the process of becoming approved vendors and hoped to get Savannah as one of their first clients, asking $125,000 for research and development. Some of these firms will have their next opportunity to pitch at Geekend, a Creative Coast-led design and tech conference being held Nov. 13-15. Bea Wray, executive director of the Creative Coast, echoed Cannon by encouraging the entrepreneurs to stay connected. “I hope you think of today as the beginning … as an invitation to get engaged,” said Wray. In the room, an audible “yesss” from some of the kids.
This has been a News Recap by The Creative Coast! Here we provide our news mentions and bi-weekly columns… just in case you missed them. Source: Business In Savannah]]>

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