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The holidays didn’t stop these 8 startup reps from pitching

The latest CONNECTpreneur event hosted companies presenting advanced B2B technology concepts, medtech solutions and apps to make life easier.

Everix CEO Dr. Hooman Banaei. (Photo by Shashi Bellamkonda)
This is a guest post Shashi Bellamkonda, an adjunct professor in digital marketing at Georgetown University and McDonough School of Management. He was not involved in the production of the CONNECTPreneur event.

The holidays didn’t stop these eight startup reps from pitching to a room of entrepreneurs, VCs and technologists at the latest CONNECTpreneur event. Eight mostly local companies were presented at the holiday pitch event, held at the Tower Club in Tysons, Virginia at the end of December.

Around 60% of the pitching companies were B2B with advanced technology concepts. Increasingly, as a frequent pitch event attendee, I’m noticing more medtech, energy and cybersecurity companies. I was surprised to see fewer cause- and fundraising-focused startups at the events I have been attending.

The startup that stood out most to me was Orlando-based Everix. The CEO, Dr. Hooman Banaei, said his company is turning plastic into gold by manufacturing thin-film optical filters out of plastic instead of glass, which makes them thinner, shatterproof and longer lasting. These filters are present in many consumer electronics and medical diagnostic devices, and I hope one day these will evolve to make our phone screens shatterproof as well.

Some of the companies are built on concepts that are very scientific and complicated in nature — so kudos to their presenters for simplifying down their descriptions for a mass audience. When a startup founder pitches to investors, they must make the perfect first impression. The simpler the description is, the better the chance that people will understand what your idea is and how it is going to make an impact. Answer the question “What does your company do?” in one or two sentences.

A good description template:

  • [Description of problem].
  • [Company name] lets [audience/market do [benefit]. [Company name] help [how it counters problem] via [example 1] [example 2] [example 3].

A few examples:

  • Doordash — “Best local restaurants now deliver. Get breakfast, lunch, dinner and more delivered from your favorite restaurants right to your doorstep with one easy click.”
  • Upside Travel — “Great prices and free 24/7 on-demand service throughout your trip. One-stop shopping for air, hotel and rental cars. Business travel is hard. Upside makes it easier.”
  • Stripe — “Online payment processing for internet businesses. Stripe is a suite of payment APIs that powers commerce for online businesses of all sizes, including fraud prevention, and subscription management. Use Stripe’s payment platform to accept and process payments online for easy-to-use commerce solutions.”

Alongside Everix, here are the companies that were pitched at CONNECTpreneur’s latest event:

American Esports

Before online gaming, people went to the local mall and played in gaming arcades. American Esports combines both these experiences.  The American Esports platform provides a bridge between online gaming and a fun place for gamers and friends to play offline. Vijay Lakshman, CTO made the pitch.

Vijay Lakshman, CTO of American Esports. (Photo by Shashi Bellamkonda)


Using data and gamification, Jake Sandler, CEO of Changeroots, wants to change politics. Using a micro-donation app, users can reward politicians who practice bipartisanship. This is likely to create a movement where politicians see the benefit of bipartisanship.

Jake Sandler, CEO of Changeroots. (Photo by Shashi Bellamkonda)


Many cities have started requiring commercial establishments to conduct energy audits, and auditors often use pen and paper today. Dustin Bane, COO of EMAT, described the company’s product as a software solution to save companies time and money to conduct these audits.

Dustin Bane, COO of EMAT. (Photo by Shashi Bellamkonda)


Justin Fong, CEO and cofounder, said that Hue.Ai uses artificial intelligence to reduce the time and cost to do research and design eye care and optical lens products. Some applications are lenses for the color blind, blue light filtering and color enhancing of lenses.

Justin Fong, CEO and cofounder of Hue.Ai. (Photo by Shashi Bellamkonda)


John Lundgren, CEO of Breachbits, has a cybersecurity testing solution that helps organizations fight data theft and hacking threats. Disrupting the model of human Red Team assessments, Breachbits does this remotely and can continuously provide defense assessments on a paid annual subscription basis.

John Lundgren, CEO of Breachbits. (Photo by Shashi Bellamkonda)


CEO Yurani Sandoval founded the Single Parent Power platform to help the more than 13 million single-parent households in America. For a small monthly membership fee, single parents can arrange childcare from local businesses or help each other by offering to give students a ride home from school. The platform will be eventually offer events and educational classes.

Yurani Sandoval, CEO of Single Parent Power. (Photo by Shashi Bellamkonda)


Pelumi Olatinpo, founder and CEO of Postagraph, created a mobile app where users can share their travel experience and others can book the same experience through the app, creating an alternative for travelers and reducing dependence on the traditional model of reading reviews.

Pelumi Olatinpo, CEO of Postagraph. (Photo by Shashi Bellamkonda)


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