A full room was in attendance for the Inaugural StartUpOC Investor Summit organized by Applied Innovation, OCTANe, and the Irvine Chamber of Commerce. Attendees traveled from across Southern California and represented a diverse spectrum of venture capital firms, angel investors, and local resources such as incubators, accelerators, and coworking spaces. Twelve companies presented, representing a mix of both emerging and established companies, with a combined value of $65.9 Million dollars raised in total. The program format consisted of a three-minute highlight by local organizations, followed by a seven-minute pitch by the startup with a Q&A afterward. Organizations participating in highlighting each startup included Auctus Global Capital Group, Chicklabs, Eureka Building, EvoNexus, FastStart Studio, Irvine Chamber of Commerce, K5 Ventures, Launchlabs @ Chapman University, OCTANe, PeopleSpace, Tech Coast Angels, TechSpace, Tritech SBDC, and Applied Innovation.
Linda DiMario of the Irvine Chamber of Commerce began the event with an introduction to the program format and also expressed her thanks to Matt Bailey and Michelle Hong of Applied Innovation along with Kara from OCTANe for their help. She gave a special thank you to Bill Carpou of OCTANe and Richard Sudek of Applied Innovation for reaching out to their respective networks and making this event possible. DiMario expressed that the Irvine Chamber's role in the event was to support and highlight the scope of the OC startup ecosystem.
Following DiMario's introduction, Shiv Grewal, Co-Founder of Auctus Global Capital Group, introduced the first startup, LensGen. As a clinical-stage ophthalmic device company, LensGen focuses on restoring youthful vision with a novel accommodating intraocular lens called Juvene. To date, they have raised $6 million in equity and convertible debt.
Next, Kirsten Mangers, CEO of Chicklabs LLC, introduced emerging startup Monet Networks. Monet offers a patented, cloud-based data analytics platform that enables brands and agencies to understand consumer sentiment using the power of Real Time Non-Verbal Cues (NVC) analysis. They have raised $250,000 to date with additional seed money partially committed.
Taylor Decker, Director of Eureka Building, introduced the next startup, Andrew Technologies. Andrew Technologies is a medical device company which was incorporated in 2007 to expand the use of Tissue Liquefaction TechnologyTM (TLT), which has a variety of applications, including cataract surgery, body contouring, and breast cancer reconstruction. With a promising research pipeline, they have raised $25 million to date.
Alexa Enlow, Senior Portfolio Manager for EvoNexus, then introduce the next startup InBrace. InBrace is an invisible orthodontic solution that combines the effectiveness of conventional braces with the comfort and ease of Invisalign, all in a single appliance hidden behind the patient's teeth. Their solution is both patented and FDA registered. To date, they have raised $4.2 million.
Michael Sawitz, Founder, and CEO of FastStart Studio followed by providing an overview of his incubator and presented on behalf of DARRT, LLC. DARRT is a laser-guided percutaneous access needle optimized to eliminate or substantially reduce the need for fluroscopy during Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (PCNL) cases related to the removal of kidney stones. Sawitz also shared the solution's boon to reducing the risk of cumulative radiation experienced by doctors, surgeons, and patients. To date, the startup has raised $220,000.
DiMario returned to introduce NarrativeWave, a SaaS, data analytics, and Machine Learning platform that produces operationally relevant business insights to impact real-time decisions. Their solution is focused on the Power Generation, Aviation, Oil & Gas, Energy, Transportation and Heavy Equipment industry segments. With organizations utilizing their solution such as GE Power, this startup has raised $3 million to date.
Ray Chan, Managing Director of K5 Ventures, presented next and introduced TinyKicks Inc. Chan prefaced in his introduction that TinyKicks exemplified a startup that successfully tapped local resources such as EvoNexus, the Cove, Tech Coast Angels, and most recently K5. Tiny Kicks is developing healthcare wearables for monitoring movement and respiration during pregnancy, to provide early detection of fetal activity changes, with proprietary nanosensor technology licensed from UCI. They have raised $600,000 to date.
Shan Steinmark, Director of the Leatherby Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Ethics and Launchlabs at Chapman University, introduced Beatshare. Beatshare is a mobile messaging platform enabling the creation and distribution of multimedia content. They utilize the power of music to allow individuals to express their thoughts, feelings, and emotions in a whole new way. With relationships brokered directly with Apple for the most recent iOS release, this startup has raised $870,000 to date.
Bill Carpou, President, and CEO of OCTANe presented next and introduced Neural Analytics. By applying data science to neuroscience, this startup's solution utilizes "big data" techniques to measure, diagnose and track brain health. With brain care totaling almost $760 billion annually, Neural Analytics solution aims to make a solution that is affordable, portable, and available. They have raised $20 million to date.
Melinda Kim, Executive Director at PeopleSpace, introduced Hysko. Hysko is a wearable solution for gyms that gamifies high-intensity fitness classes such as Boxing, MMA, and Crossfit. Notable organizations already testing the technology include the Canadian and US Olympic boxing team. The startup recently participated in Y Combinator’s accelerator and recently moved their team from Montreal to Orange County. They have raised $150,000 to date.
Grant Van Cleve, President of TechCoast Angels, introduced Jetbuilt. As a SaaS platform re-imagining the way A/V, IT, and Security projects are designed and sold, Jetbuilt seeks to revolutionize the market through their innovative solution. Organizations such as Disney Imagineering are currently using their software in a trial. Recent customers include the US State Department. They have raised $650,000 to date.
Mark Mitchell, Director of TriTech SBDC, introduced Fantasy Games. Described as a solution where Fantasy Sports meets Candy Crush, their customers play sports with Facebook friends and sporting celebrities. With 57 million North American Fantasy players, and $32 billion spent annually, Fantasy Games is developing an innovative gaming platform to address this market. They have raised $200,000 to date.
Richard Sudek, Chief Innovation Officer and Director of Applied Innovation, introduced the final startup, Modulated Imaging. A UCI based startup coming out of the Beckman Laser Institute, Modulated Imaging builds light-based imaging devices that give professionals transformative tools for preventing, diagnosing, and curing medical skin conditions. To date, they have raised $8 million.
The event concluded with Bill Carpou of OCTANe encouraging the attendees in the room to move the ecosystem forward together. He mentioned organizers such as Sudek and DiMario were happy to help and thanked everyone in attendance for their time.
Attendees were asked about their impressions of the event and shared the following perspectives. Buck Jordan of Future Ventures and Canyon Creek Capital shared that the key to creating a center of innovation in any region is organized capital. With catalysts such as the Cove and events such as this one, Jordan stated: "it helps energize the ecosystem by providing a central meeting place for investors to gather." Jeff Boon of Okapi Venture Capital commented that he was excited to see the "broad diversity in the number of opportunities presented. They were all of significant quality." He observed the significant impact of early mentorship with companies who are building and also of those who are already launching their product. Alex Suh, Managing Director of California Technology Ventures, LLC, shared that he saw these events as valuable since they provide an opportunity for venture capitalists to get an early preview of the different types of startups trying to raise funds. He also saw it as an opportunity for companies that have been around to show investors the progress they have made. Suh credited OCTANe and UCI for doing an "outstanding job in maintaining the quality of these type of programs." Grant Van Cleve, President of Tech Coast Angels, shared that today's event was a good first step and stated, "we are going to see more people coming to attend and conference-call in to see what we are up to."
Hai contributes to the Cove as a content writer for both the Currents newsletter and blog. As an alumnus of UCI with a degree in English and a co-founder of a local creative agency, Hai's focus is centered on spotlighting events, stories, and startups within the Orange County community. He is passionate about entrepreneurship and has participated in fast-pitch competitions through the UCI Antrepreneur Center and has co-organized local business and startup groups such as 1 Million Cups and Orange County Young Entrepreneurs.