Learnings from 58 Startups as they Compete for $200,000 Investment During Seattle Angel Conference

58 companies share what they learned from their engagement at Seattle Angel Conference XVII 17

Learnings from 58 Startups as they Compete for $200,000 Investment During Seattle Angel Conference

Over the past 3 months, 58 startups from the Seattle and Pacific Northwest have been dueling it out NCAA basketball style for the grand prize of $200,000. Seattle Angel Investors have been reviewing pitch decks, doing due diligence to find the ultimate company they wish to invest in. The difference here is that the Seattle Angel Conference has a 50/50 mix of new and seasoned investors. The investors are learning along with the startups about how to review and analyze a company and are providing feedback to the startups along the way. Below is the story from a handful of startups which participated in the Seattle Angel Conference to tell a little bit about their journey and what they learned along the way. 


Aghaz Investments

1.       Tell us about your company

Aghaz Investments is an online investment advisor for Muslims and Values-based customers to conveniently invest and save for their goals in a manner consistent with their beliefs. Whether your values include avoiding interest or supporting equal rights, you can invest without compromise with Aghaz Investments. We will launch for US Muslim investors in 2020 and then expand to custom values-based investors in early 2021.

2.       What was the most valuable thing you learned through the SAC process

Exposure to investors and in particular the opportunity to learn how VC and Angel investor sentiments have changed due to COVID-19 was invaluable. I learned how investors are seeking more recession-proof startups to invest in and how some of the popular business models and assumptions of 2019 might not be relevant in 2020.

3.       What have you learned in the last 3 months?

COVID-19 has caused us to re-evaluate some of our core assumptions. In my startup’s case, the recent impact to US stock markets presents opportunities to onboard customers at a time when stock valuations have dropped to attractive levels. Additionally, this volatility in the market has reinvigorated interest in ESG and socially responsible opportunities which represents our core investment philosophy. 

4.       What did you learn from another team at SAC?

It was interesting to see the journey from one of the finalists who had been to SAC twice earlier. Some of the lessons learned from those previous SAC funds were incorporated into this fund. Also, one other company reached out to me regarding potential partnership opportunities that provides scale, monetization and new customer scenarios for both our companies. 

5.       Your name, title, website, and head shot photo of yourself

Khurram Agha, Founder and CEO

https://twitter.com/aghazinvest


Steamchain Corp

1.       Tell us about your company

Steamchain is a Fintech company that simplifies global B2B payments in the multi-trillion dollar Shipping and logistics industries. We’ve reduced the high cost of currency conversion in a low margin industry by giving our clients the ability to create smart contracts with a programable payment method in the fiat currency of choice.

2.       What was the most valuable thing you learned through the SAC process

Messaging

3.       What have you learned in the last 3 months?

Customers and Generating revenue.

4.       What did you learn from another team at SAC?

It’s important to have a champion for our company.

5.       Your name, title, website, and head shot photo of yourself

Dan Biggs, CEO; Steamchain Corp 

https://steamchaincorp.com/ 


Your Vesa

1.       Tell us about your company

Your Vesa is an interactive virtual advocate that empowers patients with real-time information to make informed decisions about their healthcare. Vesa reads medical records, listening to a user’s doctor appointment, and then offering personalized suggestions of actions to take, appointments to schedule, or questions to ask.

2.       What was the most valuable thing you learned through the SAC process

How to differentiate our company from the competition in 3- minutes, but not just the competition, also where we sit within the Life Sciences/Med-tech space versus just being another wellness app.

3.       What have you learned in the last 3 months?

While going through the COVID-19 pandemic, we're learning how to do more with less, not be reliant on potential investment to get things off the ground, and as a med-tech company, we are learning how to pivot fast and build something even more worthy of the current time.  

4.       What did you learn from another team at SAC?

Sarah from Tribute has shown the truth in the saying the need to listen to your customers and having empathy for them and building a product that meets head to head that need.

5.       Your name, title, website, and head shot photo of yourself

Clare Gould, Founder & CEO

https://yourvesa.com


Weshowup.io

1.       Tell us about your company

weshowup.io is a digital pay what you want solution for online, VR and live events. Audiences can make a reservation, enjoy the event and pay when the value is highest - afterwards.

2.       What was the most valuable thing you learned through the SAC process

The importance of getting to the point and how much investors are also buying 'you', not just the tech

3.       What have you learned in the last 3 months?

Hardship and challenges that seem insurmountable can also be opportunities - it's all about perspective.

4.       What did you learn from another team at SAC?

There are some really great companies out there.

5.       Your name, title, website, and head shot photo of yourself

Kahlil Ashanti, Founder & CEO

weshowup.io



Fangle

1.       Tell us about your company

Fangle is an on-demand food truck services company based in Bellevue. We provide interactive food truck finder, pre-order and pre-paid services through an APP and website to connect trucks and consumers.

2.       What was the most valuable thing you learned through the SAC process

The more we can help small businesses and the communities the more support we will get for our business.

3.       What have you learned in the last 3 months?

I learned two things from SAC workshop:

4.       What did you learn from another team at SAC?

I enjoy sharing networking and learning from their start-up stories. Every company is unique and valuable to me. Their stories inspire me to stay stoked.

5.       Your name, title, website, and head shot photo of yourself

Jian Sun, Co-founder&CEO

https://fangle.im



PDM Automotive

1.       Tell us about your company

PDM Automotive provides a cloud-based, data management platform for the automotive aftermarket parts industry.  Connecting suppliers, resellers, and service providers with integrated analytics and tools to assure real-time availability and accessibility of product, inventory, and pricing data for all sales and e-commerce channels.

2.       What was the most valuable thing you learned through the SAC process

While starting with SAC we had also started to work on our Sales and Marketing plan including sales funnel etc. It has been great to get challenged by our due diligence team, especially since they are not from our industry to really take a high level view to then again dig into the details.

3.       What have you learned in the last 3 months?

A lot about how to flip our company from Germany into the USA. We started in Germany and moving to the USA was naturally the next step for scaling the business. However, there are many legal and tax implications involved, which we are now mastering!

4.       What did you learn from another team at SAC?

That there can be delicious fish jerky.

5.       Your name, title, website, and head shot photo of yourself

Johannes Crepon, Founder

www.pdm-automotive.com


Odysseus Technologies, Inc.

1.       Tell us about your company

Odysseus Technologies, Inc., a Delaware corporation, has the primary goal of building upon the discovery of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) by Dr. Sumio Iijima in 1991.

The Company has invented a new way to synthesize CNTs. This new method will manifest and ultimately commercialize the tremendous strength and conductivity

properties of CNTs--as yet unrealized by all other carbon nanotube producers.


2.       What was the most valuable thing you learned through the SAC process

To shorten and sharpen our core message to just three minutes.


3.       What have you learned in the last 3 months?

To access a broader range of potential investors beyond angel groups.

4.       What did you learn from another team at SAC?

We have similar challenges.

5.       Your name, title, website, and head shot photo of yourself

Bryan Laubscher, CEO & Founder

odysseustech.com

Richard Samuelson, Board Member


Curabit health pods

1.       Tell us about your company

Curabit Healthpods: Multisensor interactive patient care pods to deliver enhanced telemedicine, making healthcare better and safer for patients and healthcare providers everywhere.

2.       What was the most valuable thing you learned through the SAC process

Be open minded, but maintain your focus and passion, trust your gut instinct.

3.       What have you learned in the last 3 months?

Work hard, keep moving forward, learn to collaborate.

4.       What did you learn from another team at SAC?

Did not get a chance to directly interact with other companies.

5.       Your name, title, website, and head shot photo of yourself

Eddie Naude, M.D. Founder and CEO.

Www.curabit.com




Neptune Fish Jerky

1.       Tell us about your company

Neptune’s Mission is to restore Mankind’s Healthy Relationship with the Sea. Our tasty, award-winning jerkies are made from premium-quality, US Wild-Caught rockfish that is 100% traceable back to the fish, fishery, and small-scale US West Coast fisherman that caught it.

We’ve crafted shockingly delicious flavors, with a nutrition profile that speaks for itself: 20g of protein and 560mg Omega-3 fatty acids per pack 60-70 Calories per serving, Paleo, Non-GMO, Gluten-free, Keto, Nitrate/Preservative free, and High in nutrients including Selenium, Vitamin D, and Vitamin E. 

2.       What was the most valuable thing you learned through the SAC process

As a startup Founder, the most valuable thing you learn is what you don't know. SAC was an incredible opportunity to better understand the investor's mindset through an invitation into the process, which was scrutinous but also supportive. Participating in SAC has strengthened our business and our Founding team.

3.       What have you learned in the last 3 months?

Over the past three months, I have learned how to more clearly tell our story so that the passion behind what we do shines through.

4.       What did you learn from another team at SAC?

I learned that there are a million-and-one ways that a startup company can form, launch, and scale. It has been a valuable experience to learn from other startups participating in the SAC process, so observe how they assess their respective markets and the strategies they are using to capture them.

5.       Your name, title, website, and head shot photo of yourself

Nick Mendoza, Co-Founder & CEO

neptunejerky.com



iGuard Home Solutions Inc

1.       Tell us about your company

iGuard Home Solutions Inc is a smart home device company. Our focus is on developing innovative and market leading smart home fire safety solutions for residential, retirement communities, student housing, and lodging (hotels, motels, and rental condos) markets.  Initial target product fit and market focus is eliminating the risk of cooking fires from unattended and forgotten cooking for the Aging in Place population

2.       What was the most valuable thing you learned through the SAC process

How crucial in this type of competition to have one or more advocates within the investor group to address negative mis-conceptions that are raised about the company during investor discussions. 

3.       What have you learned in the last 3 months?

The SAC process has been invaluable in ways too numerous to enumerate in helping go through process of developing our Exec Summary, Pitch Deck, and Financial Projections. One important item was that our company name,  iGuardFire Ltd,  was too limiting in setting expectations of what issues we solved. We’re in midst of transitioning our corporate identity to: iGuard Home Solutions Inc.

4.       What did you learn from another team at SAC?

CEO from another team provided useful insights about some investors I will be presenting to in June. 

5.       Your name, title, website, and head shot photo of yourself

Ken Deering, CEO

www.iguardfire.com


3D SD

1.       Tell us about your company

3D Sustainable Developments is a social purpose corporation with a mission to mass-produce affordable, sustainable, natural disaster resistant housing while safely remediating large-scale industrial waste. By licensing our patented 3D printing system and high-performance concretes, we will be a hub for sustainable building materials and technologies.  

2.       What was the most valuable thing you learned through the SAC process

The most valuable thing we got out of SAC XVII was a live Gust profile for accessing global investors.

3.       What have you learned in the last 3 months?

In the last three months we learned the power of having diversified customers in a down market. 

5.       Your name, title, website, and head shot photo of yourself

Commitment L. Israel, Chief Executive Officer

www.3DSD.org



Qase

1.       Tell us about your company

Qase is a SaaS-enabled, managed marketplace that helps people find and work with lawyers entirely online.

2.       What was the most valuable thing you learned through the SAC process

Navigating our way through our first due diligence process. It was a huge amount of work, and challenging to find ways to present information quickly and effectively.  Regardless of whether we win or not, SAC has prepared us for future success with fundraising. 

3.       What have you learned in the last 3 months?

Every pitch, every question, and every conversation we’ve had with SAC investors has helped sharpen our message and improve our understanding of the challenges ahead.

4.       What did you learn from another team at SAC?

There are so many cool ideas and so many smart people out there trying to address real problems. I remember being blown away at the quarter finals by the creativity and passion of the other teams.

5.       Your name, title, website, and head shot photo of yourself

Dan Zollmann, Qase Co-Founder & CEO

https://www.qase.ca/


FriendWithA

1.       Tell us about your company

FriendWithA is a fully insured peer to peer rental marketplace. Connecting creative and adventure enthusiasts to rent out and share their equipment with their local community. Find everything from Onewheels, electric bikes, paddle boards, tools, generators, cameras, speakers, photo booths, bounce houses and more all available for rent. Backed by FriendWithA's insurance of up to $125,000 per piece of equipment and has some lenders already earning up to $1,000 a month. 

2.       What was the most valuable thing you learned through the SAC process

SAC is a reality check on your company and ego. It’s easy to get lost in a delusion of grandeur and nothing like 50 investors giving you open and honest feedback to bring you back down to earth. As a startup founder, it’s really hard to get honest actionable feedback and that’s exactly what SAC does. One item for me was the quality of items for rent on our site. We have participated twice in SAC now and received that feedback both times. The first year we took that feedback and made maintenance checks and inspection mandatory before all rentals and made our process visible on every item. Well after those updates, we still got the same feedback the 2nd time around. So, it was a gut check because we were already doing what they asked and wanted. Well that’s when I realized that maybe it wasn’t necessarily the items themselves, but maybe it was about the presentation. Some items had 1 photo, limited description and honestly the photos were dark and not great quality. So, we’ve made a huge effort to control which items are coming on the site, and also improve our design as well so we do our best job of highlighting those items.  

3.       What have you learned in the last 3 months?

Just trying to nail down 1 marketing channel. A big point of feedback given by John and other investors was just get something going and figure out our “sales channel”. An investment is adding fuel to the fire. If you are not able to figure it out before you receive funding, why would it be different once received it?

4.       What did you learn from another team at SAC?

It’s just amazing to see all the great teams out there and you realize why you might not be getting funding. Studying what some of them are doing in their influencer marketing and seeing how we can apply that to FriendWithA is very eye opening.

5.       Your name, title, website, and head shot photo of yourself

Stefan Cordova, Founder and CEO

https://friendwitha.com



Mindcurrent

1.       Tell us about your company

Mindcurrent's artificial intelligence predicts and prevents stress across teams. Built by data scientists, psychologists, and seasoned tech entrepreneurs, our AI provides complete privacy and personalized recommendations from behavioral experts, therapists, and counselors. Early customers include finance companies, law enforcement, universities, and nonprofits serving veterans.

2.       What was the most valuable thing you learned through the SAC process

The early stage investor's perspective. When you're hyper-focused on your product, especially AI, it is very helpful to get the perspectives of seasoned early stage investors on growth opportunities outside your initial target market and their ability to simplify your value proposition for a shorter, more impactful pitch.

3.       What have you learned in the last 3 months?

The network of angel investors and AI talent in the Pacific Northwest runs deep. We've found new investors and mentors in Seattle and Portland that helped us move forward faster than interested parties in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, or New York.


4.       What did you learn from another team at SAC?

Two of our fellow SAC participants are in accelerators with Mindcurrent. Learning from their experiences with investors and how their funding plans have changed given current market conditions has helped us shape our near-term funding goals and timeline.

5.       Your name, title, website, and head shot photo of yourself

Sourabh Kothari, CEO & Co-Founder of Mindcurrent

https://wefunder.com/mindcurrent


Closing:

Well there you have just a handful of the 58 teams who participated in SAC XVII. The winning team will be chosen Wednesday 5/13/2020 3pm (PST). https://www.seattleangelconference.com/join As you can see, the learning is great for startups, and for the investors as well. If you’re a startup and based in the Pacific Northwest, apply to join our next round! If you are you interested in Angel Investing, from the Seattle and Pacific Northwest area, and have a salary over $200,000 or over $1,000,000 net worth; apply to become an Angel Investor in our next round. It only requires a minimum investment of $5,500 and you could be investing in the next Microsoft or Amazon.


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