Beyond the Pitch

Rev1 Ventures Reveals the Fall 2015 Demo Day Class

Demo Day Class

Curiosity. Confidence. Electricity. Pride. Commitment.

That was the result at the Fall 2015 Demo Day Reveal as 14 passionate entrepreneurs from 11 Rev1 portfolio companies took the stage before an audience of 377 investors, First Connect companies, business people, and community leaders, plus 277 more viewers of the Demo Day live feed.


Emcee Tanisha Robinson, CEO and Co-Founder of Print Syndicate,  set the tone for the day by announcing that Columbus has been named the fastest growing city in the country for Startup Activity, according to the Kauffman Index. For the rest of the afternoon on October 22 at the Capitol Theatre in the Vern Riffe Center, it was easy to see why.

Presentations from startups and their customers

Rapid fire pitch days are a standard part of the startup model in most regions. However, the startups in Rev1’s Fall Demo Day Reveal class have all achieved first revenue and first customers. That gave Demo Day Reveal a unique twist. Along with the entrepreneurs, the startups’ customers also took the stage.

It took planning and practice–50 hours or more.

“Preparing our material, that was easy; mastering the pitch and our delivery to be sure that we resonated with the hundreds of people in the audience, that was hard,” said Brandon Bornancin, founder and CEO of Seamless Contacts.

“I’m a big fan of doing whatever I fear—and doing it right away. Going on that stage and telling hundreds of people we didn’t know, including potential investors, about our company was one of those things,” Bornancin said. “It went so well and was fun. The whole experience reinforced the importance of being able to tell our story in terms that other people can understand. It was a blast.”

Customers spoke in person or via video about why they had signed on to be a paying customer, and in some cases, strategic partners, of these startups. Seamless Contacts client, David Koterba, vice president of Epsilon Healthcare, talked about how the startup is supplying Epsilon with leads that are nearly “100 percent accurate.”

“All the great marketing in the world doesn’t matter if we send things to the wrong prospects. Seamless Contacts is supplying more than we asked for,” he said.

Hailey Dunn, HR director at Print Syndicate and mom, spoke about her experience with Ardina. “Ardina is hands-down the best experience I have ever had in healthcare,”  “The service was phenomenal. I’ll save over $1,200 per year in medical expense with my membership.”said

Customer testimonials accelerated investor interest by relating the benefits of the startup companies’ solutions to bottom line results.

3ar-DD-Recap-DD-Brand“Fertilizers have gotten so expensive, and basically you’ve hit a wall with what they can do. We are trying to find a way to use less fertilizer to grow at least the same or better yields. That’s why we like this product,” said Ken Friedman, southern territory manager for Landmark Distribution Group, a 3Bar Biologics customer.

Portfolio companies showcase the diversity of the Columbus region

At Rev1, we believe that one of the big reasons that there is such a boon in startup activity here is that innovation here crosses so many different industries and types of advanced solutions.

We don’t specialize in IT or healthcare exclusively—although our regional depth in medicine and big data is certainly a plus to new companies in those industries. We are much more of a mixed bag.

One Demo Day company—3Bar Biologics—grows “good” bacteria to help increase crop yield. Another company, ProteoSense is developing a system that detects “bad” pathogens (such as E. coli) in minutes, not days.

Two firms—Ardina and TrueDOK—are tackling challenges that are the byproduct of the growth in high deductible medical plans.

Three Rev1 startups directly help improve their customers’ return-on-investment: Clarivoy, by focusing on advertising spend; MentorcliQ, by improving employee development and retention, and Seamless Contacts by delivering the highest quality sales leads.

GenomeNEXT and Nexosis have created big data solutions.  Simple-Fill is creating a better way to fuel vehicles with compress natural gas (CNG), while TicketFire makes last minute ticket sharing, selling, and donations easy.

In addition to the 11 startups that were on the “reveal” roster, three more companies presented at Demo Day.

Milo Biotechnology, is a spinout from Nationwide Children’s Hospital that is developing a gene therapy to treat muscular dystrophy (MD). The therapy, which is already in clinical trials, is the first therapy to demonstrate functional improvement in any form of muscular dystrophy.

Concept Academy graduates, TacBoard and GiftPocket, are in the pre-revenue stage. These two startups each target the Millennial consumer market. This is a demographic well-understood by the founders of these businesses, as they are the youngest ever graduates of Rev1’s Concept Academy. Disha Shidham, TacBoard’s CEO graduated from high school earlier this year. Brooke Yoakam, founder of GiftPocket, is 13 years old and in Middle School.

The take-away from Demo Day Reveal is that the Columbus region is full of remarkable entrepreneurs of all ages and stripes. They are building successful companies by creating products that delight the marketplace–products that their customers not only want to buy but also are happy to talk about.

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