Last week’s third JumpStart Foundry Investor Day featured presentations from local entrepreneurs big on enthusiasm and ideas but a bit short on experience and cash.
The Investor Day, held at Houston Station in Nashville, focused on a selected group of JumpStart’s most promising companies, ones that had shown JumpStart officials enough promise to earn the right to present their ideas to the Investor Day gathering of about 200.
The presenters ranged from an interesting mix of experienced, well-heeled physicians and health care executives, to kids not quite old enough to buy a beer in this state. But don’t let that fool you. These young business owners were passionate, well-spoken and showed maturity beyond their years as they clearly communicated their ideas to tackle consumer needs.
We pulsed a number of attendees this week for their thoughts on the presenters. They repeatedly mentioned a handful of companies as ones that generated a buzz and might have the best chance of landing funding.
Evermind was the most talked about. The plug in at-home monitoring system designed to let loved ones know their senior relatives are okay and not in imminent danger fills a void in the marketplace. Evermind CEO Dave Gilbert said his team’s concept harkens back to the “smokestack theory” from the days before electricity, when families lived close to each other and seeing smoke rising from a house’s chimney meant things were okay.
Evermind’s device sends text messages to loved ones indicating that various appliance are being used. For example, if the coffee pot is turned on at 6 a.m. and turned off a couple of hours later, things are probably okay. If not, text messages are sent and loved ones notified. Check out Gilbert’s presentation here.
“This company is definitely one to watch,” said Mark Shore, JumpStart mentor to Contigo Financial, self-described serial entrepreneur and current CEO of two companies, Rock Royalty and ZOOM International.
Naturally, Contigo also was on Shore’s list. The company was specifically designed, he said, to shut down the payday lending and high-finance operations that can create big debt problems for some consumers.
“This product, offered through but not by employers — something like AFLAC — offers an average interest rate of 36 percent, not 392 percent, the industry’s standard,” Shore said.
Shore said he was also impressed with Jamplify, formerly known as OKDJ, a social media marketing company that rewards “fans” for driving consumers to a specific site’s content.
Dr. Germain Boer, professor of accounting and director of the Owen Entrepreneurship Center at Vanderbilt University, agreed with Shore on the Jamplify nod, but said he was equally impressed with Evermind and its market potential.
“They have come up with a very simple product to address a very large problem,” Boer said. “Kids want to know how they’re parents are doing.”
The Evermind plan was well conceived, is the way Boer put it.
“There are great minds behind it, a marketing expertise attached to it, and the connections they have around the country will make this a success,” Boer said.
- ALEX B FRUIN INHERITANCE TRUST; CANDACE F STEFANSIC INHERITANCE TRUST; CANDANCE F STEFANSIC INHERITANCE TRUST; FRUIN, ALEX B TRUSTEE; FRUIN ALEX B INHERITANCE TRUST; STEFANSIC, CANDACE F TRUSTEE; STEFANSIC CANDACE F INHERITANCE TRUST; STEFANSIC CANDANCE F INHERITANCE TRUST
- ROSS, BRIDGETT D
- COOKE, ETHEN LANYARD TRUSTEE; COOKE, ETHEN LEWIS ESTATE
- JACOBS, JESSICA ALEXANDRA; JACOBS, ERIKA BESS