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Idaho entrepreneurs get practice pitching their wares

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James Wagoner demonstrates the Joule Case, a stackable energy storage system that is intended to replace gas generators. Photo by Sharon Fisher.

Four nascent Idaho companies got the opportunity to practice pitching themselves to people who might actually give them money someday.

The Deal Forum is held several times a year by venturecapital.org, a Salt Lake City-based nonprofit venture accelerator, based in Idaho at Boise State University. The organization’s Cooperative Venturing live pitch events feature entrepreneurs seeking capital for their ventures.

The event is intended to provide a safe venue where entrepreneurs can pitch their ventures to a panel of investors to receive feedback on their venture and pitch content, as well as market opportunity assumptions, forecasts or milestones they need to become successful.

Presenters are paired with a Cooperative Venturing Team from venturecapital.org’s Cooperative Venturing Network to prepare for the event. They made 10-minute presentations to an investor panel, which included Blake Hansen, managing partner with Alturas Capital;  Almir Garibovic, CEO and president of PKG User Interface Solutions; Roberta Garvin, due diligence lead of the Boise Angel Alliance; Melanie Rubocki, partner with Perkins Coie; and Mick Wiskerchen, a partner with Rectify Partners.

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Jolene Anderson

“The companies were provided with helpful insights into how to pitch to investors, the importance of selecting the right team, a Go2Market Strategy and Intellectual Property (IP),” said Jolene Anderson, chapter president of the Boise/ID Keiretsu Forum, who served on the cooperative venturing team. “Three of the companies were early stage companies, with the exception of Joule Case, which has already launched with paying customers, filed and received validation of their IP and demonstrated success. While the companies were mostly early stage, the panelists provided valuable input to the founders, which was critical for their stage of development.”

Presenting companies were FACible BioDiagnostics, Cresse Product Development, Jungo and Joule Case.

FACible BioDiagnostics, presented by PhD candidate Steve Burden, is developing a testing platform that is cheaper and faster than existing methods for medical testing. He said he was particularly interested in the flu market, and said his on-site test would produce 90% accuracy in less than 90 minutes for less than $30.

“Results can’t be fast enough if you’re the one that’s sick,” Burden said.

So far, Burden said he’s raised $125,000 and is looking to raise $400,000 more, followed by $2 million to let him develop tests for more conditions. However, some panelists said they were concerned about the ownership of the intellectual property the tests used.

William Cresse, of Cresse Product Development, demonstrated a custom-made pillow he had developed for people with shoulder pain that lets them lie down without putting their weight on their shoulder. As the population ages, there will be an increasing demand for such devices, he said. The company is looking for $350,000 in angel funding to acquire talent and create a mass production method. Some panelists said they felt that the product’s pricing needed work, particularly a better justification for why he’d chosen its price.

Jungo, presented by Ted Douglass, consisted of an application that would allow parents to sign up their soccer-playing children to be able to get evaluations from soccer coaches and put them in touch with colleges.  He is looking for $250,000 in funding, including $80,000 to market the application, which would be for both boy and girl soccer players. Panelists wondered to what degree coaches would be able to provide actionable information to the parents, and about the company’s pricing model.

Finally, James Wagoner presented Joule Case, a stackable electrical storage system that is intended to be used as an alternative to gas generators. The company has been presenting its products to retailers such as D&B Supply, which gave them a list of nine objectives to complete before they could consider themselves market-ready. So far, the company has completed about half of them, he said.

Panelists said that they were concerned about the amount of money the company would need to raise to be able to manufacture its products at a large enough scale to stock retail vendors.

About Sharon Fisher

Sharon Fisher is an Idaho Business Review staff writer, covering financial institutions, technology, and business development. She holds a bachelor of science in computer science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and a masters in public administration and graduate certificates in geographic informational analysis and in community and regional planning from Boise State University. She likes explaining things and going to meetings. Join me on Twitter at @IBR_SLFisher.