15 Dec Big Idea: CONNECTpreneur Winter Forum Part 1
It’s hard to believe that an entire quarter has gone by since the last CONNECTpreneur event, but last week a few SpeakerBoxers had the pleasure of attending the 2015 Winter Forum. If you’ve never been to a Connectpreneur forum, the event is an incredible meeting of the minds for entrepreneurs, business leaders, venture capitalists, and CEO’s from all around the mid-Atlantic region.
The event always starts with a fireside chat featuring a successful CEO or entrepreneur who has roots in the DC Tech community. The Winter Forum kicked off with an informative discussion between Tien Wong, co-founder of CONNECTpreneur, and John Kealey, CEO of Decision Lens.
John was a past Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year and has been involved with the DC tech community for years. After a short background from John where he discussed how his career has taken him through many different industries ending with software and DC tech. John discussed the importance of honesty and openness not only with your employees, but with your customers and with your investors. He shared a few comical anecdotes about situations he faced at previous jobs and offered up advice on an array of topics from revenue growth to acquisitions.
John talked about one idea in particular that resonated with me, as it’s something we see in the tech industry all the time. He said that he advises business leaders to fight the urge to go after companies like Google and Uber and to stop trying to be the next Google. He tells employees, people he coaches, and ventures he is a part of to instead examine what they do extremely well and focus on how to be the best at and capitalize on that one thing.
As always at CONNECTpreneur events, the fireside chat was incredibly informative and answered some very thoughtful questions about acquisitions, funding, and knowing when to make the right moves. Thank you John for being such a great speaker and for taking the time to chat with us!
Following the fireside chat was the company showcase where companies in the areas looking for funding have the opportunity to present their ideas to a room full of potential investors.
First up was Jonathan Cohen, President and CEO of 20/20 Gene Systems, a cancer diagnostics company. Their main focus is the launch of lung cancer and pan-cancer blood test algorithms that will help with early detection. The accuracy is as good or better than tests currently in place in the United States and is on the rise.
Next we heard from John Higginbotham, Chairman & CEO of Blue Ridge Networks, a cyber security company. Blue Ridge has taken a look at the way the threat landscape has changed. John discussed Blue Ridge’s AppGuard capabilities that help stop a breach before it happens by detecting malware early and not letting it detonate. Blue Ridge is seeking $3-4 million to complete at $10-12 million round of series 3 funding.
Following Blue Ridge was David Waldrop, Founder & CEO of ICG Solutions, a real time analytics company that extracts insights from data as quickly as possible. ICG believes that their analytics engine, LUX, can find the data points that matter faster than any technology available. David demonstrated this by demonstrating how LUX was deployed to track the spread of Ebola in West Africa. In 2016, ICG is looking to grow by targeting national security and real-time cyber markets.
On stage next was George Churchill, co-founder of Tech 2000 and President of Lumious, a solution that is working to transform training to improve help desk engagement. George started with the assertion that knowledge is power, and e-learning is a landscape that is ripe for disruption.
Tarun Sen, COO of Lyterati took the stage next to talk about their SaaS solution that tracks the innovative faculty work that collects, manages, and organizes faculty information from CVs to expert profiles. They are targeting the top 200 research universities to start with, and then will move on to other universities in Canada and the APAC region. Lyterati is looking for a $1.8M investment for marketing and sales to expand their presence in the market.
Next we heard from the Founder & CEO of OneWindow Workplace, Daniel Cohen-Dumani. Daniel discussed how OneWindow, a mobile-first intranet as a service, integrates components of Microsoft Office 365 in one easy to navigate digital window.
Jay Chapel CEO & Co-Founder of ParkMyCloud spoke next about how their solution is saving users money by eliminating the cost of idle AWS EC2 instances. The web-app works by scheduling on/off times for idle cloud services, letting users only pay for what they use. Following the model of businesses like Evernote and Dropbox, ParkMyCloud is an extremely easy to use SaaS application that fills a market gap for businesses by offering the flexibility to manage their services at a low cost.
Up next was Michael Knapp, CEO & Co-Founder of SkillSmart, a “career ecosystem” that connects employers, jobseekers, and educators. With a strong emphasis on the importance of a more skilled workforce, SkillSmart reduces the time and cost for employers looking for educated employees by creating a customized pool of skilled job seekers, recruited at lower costs with higher retention.
Finally, the showcase ended with Dr. Siu Tong, CEO of Smartlink Mobile Systems, a program for chronic care management. Founded by pros in the healthcare industry, Smartlink is passionate about providing affordable industry leading solutions that focus on improving health outcomes through better care.
From all of us at SpeakerBox, great job and good luck to each of the companies who presented last week! Don’t miss “Part 2” of this blog post for more details on the rest of the event, and be sure to block your calendars now for the next CONNECTpreneur forum on March 1st!