These startups won big money at PACT’s live, ‘Shark Tank’-like pitch event

Two out of three local companies raised a little over half a million dollars during the hour-long "Lion's Den." Yes, it got kind of dramatic.

TrekIT Health CEO Subha Airan-Javia pitching to investors at the Lion's Den live pitch event in 2019.

(Photo by Paige Gross)

At Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies’ (PACT) annual capital conference last week, three startup founders pitched their ventures to five investors — and a few hundred conference attendees.

In a simulation of the popular ABC show “Shark Tank,” the founders of TrekIT Health (a 2019 RealLIST company), Simply Good Jars and Triple Bristle, had a few minutes to pitch to and answer questions for local investors who were ready to dole out up to several hundred thousand dollars.

The ventures were chosen from more than 40 companies that presented at the daylong conference at Xfinity Live! Investors for the “Lion’s Den” pitch event included:

  • Katherine O’Neill, angel investor and cofounder Broad Street Angels, Jumpstart NJ Angel Network
  • Richard Vague, managing partner of Gabriel Investments
  • Anthony Bucci, founder and former CEO of RevZilla
  • Jonathan Brassington, head of Capgemini Invent NA
  • David Adelman, CEO of Campus Apartments and lead director of Wheels UP

For fans of “Shark Tank,” this live pitch event held up. There was plenty of dramatic lighting, sound effects and long pauses from investors mulling over their options. Investors also questioned the founders on their business models, plan for growth and other strategies.

First up was Dr. Subha Airan-Javia, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who started TrekIT Health. Airan-Javia was aiming to create a digital platform where an entire medical team could access documents and care instructions for patients, and was seeking additions to the company’s in-progress $2 million raise.


The platform is in use across Penn Medicine, but investors were concerned about the company’s journey to turning a profit.

Both Adelman and Bucci said they were intrigued by the company, but felt that medtech was out of their wheelhouses of expertise. After a long pause teasing the packed venue, all five investors passed.

(Monday morning, the company reached out and said it had raised a separate pre-seed round of $450,000, with participation from IP Group and Dreamit Ventures. The company also announced that Airan-Javia had been named as the company’s CEO.)

Next up was former chef and CEO of Simply Good Jars, Jared Cannon. His pitch to investors was to get in on the healthy meals via vending-machine startup in a $1.6 million seed round that’s underway.

He’d use the funds to build up the supply-chain “manufacturing aspect of the company, with a goal to raise a larger Series A round next year. Between Bucci, Vague, Brassington and Adelman, Cannon raised $325,ooo, just over his goal for the day.

And last was startup Triple Bristle, founded by Maxim Babiner and Brock Bourne, with products across various dental needs like an electric toothbrush, replacement heads and tool kits for dental patients on the autism spectrum. The company also has a subscription model with its products that delivers refills every few months.

Babiner pitched to investors that the company was looking to raise about $775,000 to keep up with inventory demand for their products that are made at a manufacturing center in Tennessee, where some of the team is based.

While Bucci and Adelman were hesitant because they prefer to work with teams that work in a central location, between O’Neill and Brassington, Triple Bristle raised about $200,000.

In about an hour, two of the three startups had raised more than half a million dollars.

“A little over a half-million dollars in a little over an hour is not bad at all,” said moderator and NewSpring Capital General Partner Marc Lederman.

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