(Photo by Ernie Holtzheimer)
ZSX Medical, a medical device company based out of a life sciences coworking space on Drexel’s campus, won the top prize — a $100,000 investment — at the Keiretsu Forum Mid-Atlantic’s fourth annual Angel Capital Expo on Wednesday.
At the angel group’s expo, held at Drexel University’s Bossone Research Center, 15 companies pitched. Following the presentations, attendees voted on their favorite companies by placing their three “$1 million bills” into the “bank” of one to three companies and “$500 bills” into the bank for their favorite student idea. [Editor’s note: A lot like the Philly Startup Leaders Entrepreneur Expo setup, which insurance company Margo won last spring.] The company with the most million dollar bills walked away with bragging rights as the “Most Valued Company” and an oversized check from Keiretsu for $100,000 (presumably, the smaller check will come after an agreement is signed).
The student winner was Elite Pureed Meals, founded by Ellen McCloskey, a Delaware County Community College night student and full-time home caregiver who won the West Chester University Annual Business Idea Competition. The company makes pureed meals shaped to look like the food before it was pureed for people with swallowing difficulties. McCloskey took home $25,000 worth of professional services provided by the expo’s sponsors.
The expo is Keiretsu Forum’s signature event bringing together investors and entrepreneurs looking for funding. Drexel has been a supporter of the expo since the beginning and this year, the Drexel University’s Close College of Entrepreneurship stepped up to be the lead hosting sponsor.
For those unfamiliar with Keiretsu Forum, it is a global angel investment network with over 1,250 accredited investor members. [Editor’s note: Here’s an inside look at a Keiretsu meeting.] The group, led by Howard Lubert, holds its annual expo to foster collaboration among angel groups and to reach out to the larger investment community in the Mid-Atlantic region. Based off the fact that many of the local angel groups had a presence among the more than 200 attendees on Wednesday, I’d say they met that goal.
The day-long event consisted of twenty-minute pitches from ten companies vetted by Keiretsu and five-minute “fast pitch” presentations from five student companies deriving from various technology transfer, college and university business plan/idea competitions and seed-stage programs.
The fifteen companies were pre-screened by a select committee of Keiretsu Forum members and due diligence fellows (I was previously a due diligence fellow and can attest to how great an opportunity it is for law students). Companies are broken into categories representing arguably the largest sectors here in Philly – life sciences, technology, and consumer products and technology.
This year’s presenters were:
- OcuMedic, Inc. – a medical device company creating a line of contact lenses to deliver medication continuously to the eye, replacing topical eye drops.
- ReGelTec – a medical device company developing a proprietary hydrogel technology for minimally invasive spinal implants.
- ZSX Medical – an emerging medical device company developing Zip-Stitch, a platform of surgical closure products to replace sutures.
- LifeCuff Technologies – a medical device company that automates a therapy to treat heart attacks and strokes.
- Hotel Communications Network – a digital platform for the travel industry, which places tablet computers into hotel rooms for guests.
- Tassl – a technology solution for higher education institutions to better connect with their alumni, students and volunteers.
- ArtG2 – an art forensics and testing company that provides authentication and attribution products.
Consumer Products and Technology
- Scan Our Skin – a personal health and wellness platform that analyzes and monitors skin health.
- ABOM – a company that develops and licenses anti-fog technology (think: fogged up ski goggles) for multiple industrial and lifestyle markets.
- Phytonix – a producer of industrial chemicals that removes the need for fossil-based production methods.
Early Stage Fast Pitch Presentations
- Oratio.ai (Drexel) – a B2B SaaS product for automated sales coaching.
- Boost Linguistics (Drexel) – a writing enhancement software that saves time for content marketers.
- Know Your Rights (Drexel) – a software that provides individuals with the law surrounding their rights, but in layman’s terms.
- Elite Pureed Meals (West Chester/Delaware County Community College) – a family of pureed meals shaped to look like the food before it was pureed.
- Culture Cloud (Rowan) – a platform to allow members of large organizations to connect with their colleagues located abroad when they travel.
The best part of the expo, in my opinion, is that it provided an additional outlet for local entrepreneurs seeking to raise capital, something our community could certainly use more of as it continues to grow. It also gave students an opportunity to get involved with the local investment community. Keiretsu hands out over 100 free tickets to the expo for students at local universities, so if you’re a student interested in entrepreneurship or angel investing, make sure you get your hands on one next year.