One Might Just Be the Next Big Thing

Small Business

Any company – small, medium or large and from any industry – has a chance to become the next big thing. But only a select few ever make it to that level. It requires a great idea, financial capital, innovation, creativity and lots of other variables including luck, to produce or provide a can’t miss product or service. Everyone knows what Henry Ford and his Detroit manufacturing company did for the auto industry and what Bill Gates did for IT but what is the next really big venture to capture unheard-of market share? This week in New Haven we may have seen the future and maybe the next big thing.

Yesterday, Connecticut Innovations (CI), a quasi-public corporation providing equity, debt and bond financing and other forms of financial assistance to companies, from startup to later stage, hosted its second TechStart(SM) Demo Day in the Elm City. The event showcased a group of nine entrepreneurial teams and exposed them to venture capital and angel investors. The event featured presentations from each of the teams, all of which were seeking early-stage capital to help launch and/or support their new ventures.

The hope of TechStart is to spur technology innovation and provide structure for start-up or newly established enterprises by initial capital of $25,000, as well as focused mentoring, to entrepreneurial teams. The advising part may come in the areas of customer discovery and development, sales and marketing, technology development, legal matters, and more. The TechStart Fund initiative enables startups to determine the viability of a technology concept or business and whether additional funding might be obtained to launch a business.

The presenters included five teams that were recent “graduates” of CI’s TechStart Accelerator Program as well as four companies supported under CI’s Pre-Seed Fund. Who knows, but one of these companies may become the next big app or software provider.

Here is a short description of each team and the town where they are located.

CI’s TechStart Accelerator Program Teams

Door to the North (Shelton)is developing software that combines a notepad, instant chat, and a task list into a single application to enable easier, faster collaboration among workplace teams.

Exerscript (New Haven)provides exercise-based diabetes prevention and support, incorporating the existing infrastructure of gyms, fitness professionals, and health clubs through a web-based platform. The Exerscript service facilitates the referral, enrollment and compliance-based reimbursement for participation in exercise-based diabetes prevention and support programs.

FaceChecks (Bridgeport)has developed facial recognition software and a corresponding mobile application that police departments, private security companies and online banking and brokerage businesses can use for numerous applications, including high-security login for computers, cell phones and websites.

goBlue (New Haven)combines neuroscience technology with mindfulness training to help people perform at their peak levels. goBlue will develop a mental training program for elite athletes, helping them get into “the zone” more regularly, which will enhance their performance. The company will eventually release a fitness app, paired with an EEG headset, for the mass market.

Innermost Labs (Seymour)designs mobile technology for organizations with geographically-spread memberships, with the goal of connecting members more closely with organizers and with each other. Clients include the New Organizing Institute and Zach Wahls. The company is developing a white-label application that will allow organization leaders to customize their own branded apps with a standard set of features.

CI pre-seed companies:

Combat2Career (West Simsbury)has developed a web-based portal that matches veterans with higher education programs and civilian employers that best suit their needs and skill sets, helping veterans make a successful transition from combat to college to career.

eBrevia (Stamford)is commercializing natural language processing technology developed at Columbia University to analyze, extract information from, and summarize legal documents. The company’s software has applications for legal due diligence, contract management, and document drafting.

Shizzlr (Orange)is releasing a new product called Groupcentric, a simple and robust group chat application programming interface. It allows developers to add private sharing with group chat within their own iPhone and Adroid application.

Umbie DentalCare (East Hartford)is taking dental care to the cloud. Umbie, a simple-to-use practice management solution, helps dentists manage their business and their patients and enables them to manage multiple locations. Umbie is also EHR compliant and optimized for the iPad and other mobile devices.

Which team do you think holds the most promise to possibly be the next big thing?

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