Four Hudson Valley-based startups pitched a panel of experts April 21 for a chance at a final meeting with the Westchester Angels investor group.
The startups were there for the “Pitching the Angels” event hosted by the Westchester Angels and Westfair Communications Inc., publisher of the Business Journal. The pitching contest was held at the BioInc@NYMC incubator at the New York Medical College campus in Valhalla.
Jeff Loehr, moderator of the event and a founding partner of the Westchester Angels, said the contest was mostly for educational purposes, as the teams were not allowed to solicit funds from people in the room. But the winning team would have the chance to get in front of the Westchester Angels and any team could be approached by accredited investors in attendance.
Startups were scored one through five on presentation, business model and investability.
“We are looking for the need they are going to address,” Loehr said.
For the winner, White Plains-based Nonnatech, that need was in patient care. The startup has patent-pending technology that uses sensors to provide real-time data to care providers that show changes in patient behavior.
Founder and CEO Gary German said he first had the idea for the business when his grandmother had a stroke. When she was back home from the hospital and rehab center, German’s family set her up with home care, where he said she was abused by one of the home care providers. While she is OK now and still living at home, he said, the experience of that and the constant trips in and out of the hospital made him rethink how care could be provided.
“It launched a spark in me that thought of going forward with Nonnatech,” German said.
By using sensors and predictive analytics, Nonnatech can track whether a person is taking their medication, or if they are sleeping, eating, socializing and using the bathroom in normal patterns. German said Nonnatech can help care providers avoid emergency room visits and admissions into higher levels of care. The technology has so far proven to save care providers $500 per patient per month, he said.
The runner-up, Lately, is a Hudson Valley-based startup looking to optimize marketing management. Lately condenses multiple online tools into a single platform. Co-founder and CEO Kate Bradley Chernis said the idea for the company came from managing a Walmart campaign a few years back.
“And the best tool I could find to organize all the marketing for it was a painstakingly comprehensive Google Docs spreadsheet,” Bradley Chernis said.
Walmart liked the spreadsheet she made so much they sent it out to all of their campaign managers, she said, who still use it today. The problem, according to Bradley Chernis, is that the many tools marketers use to manage daily tasks – communications, social media, scheduling and file storage – all exist in too many places and platforms. That disorganization wastes $83 billion per year, she said.
To solve that issue and save time, Lately provides “everything marketers need, organized in one central location,” Bradley Chernis said.
Also pitching to the panel were MediSprout and Top Chef Meals. MediSprout, a tenant of the BioInc@NYMC incubator, has a digital platform to help connect doctors with patients through video conferencing. Top Chef Meals has an 11,000-square-foot facility in Elmsford where it creates freshly prepared meals that can be customized and ordered online with free delivery.
Before the pitches began, a keynote speech was delivered by a CEO with some pitching experience on the national stage. David Heath, the co-founder and CEO of the Bombas sock company, pitched his idea on ABC’s “Shark Tank” and appeared on NBC’s “Today Show.”
His company, launched in 2013, donates a pair of socks to a homeless shelter for every pair purchased. The idea came to him after he found out that the number one most requested item at homeless shelters is socks.
He had three pieces of advice: focus in on a single strength, know what you’re not good at, and be the person your dog thinks you are, a quote he said he borrowed. He offered a new, more business-focused take on the dog advice.
“This really speaks to culture and leadership, and what are the things you stand for,” Heath said. “So, be the person your dog thinks you are is really be the leader that you want to work for.”