02 Mar Big Idea CONNECTpreneur Spring Forum: Part 1 with Sudhakar Kesavan and a Company Showcase
If you’ve never been to a CONNECTpreneur event and you have even the slightest interest in networking you are truly missing out. These events are quite literally packed to the gills with some of the biggest tech names in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Yesterday was no exception. The sold out event was well attended and beautifully executed.
As CONNECTpreneur forums always do, Tien Wong, CEO of Tech200 and Appnetic, kicked off the morning with a brief welcome and a fireside chat. Yesterday’s guest was Sudhakar Kesavan, Chairman & CEO, ICF International, Chairman of Emeritus, Northern VA Tech Council. Sudhakar has been at ICF international for 33 years and offered a wealth of wisdom and expertise on business and entrepreneurship.
Sudhakar started with ICF doing traditional consulting and his roles and duties have varied greatly over time. He shared the importance of constantly pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to grow and find new interesting and energizing tasks to keep you fresh and motivated. To stay current, Sudhakar does a number of things in the industry but he stressed that the most important is reading. He said there is so much happening that we as an industry need to keep track of and everything is moving fast. Reading about it keeps him interested and inspired by what ICF is doing and what others in the industry are doing.
During the fireside chat conversation, Sudhakar offered several great pieces of advice for both entrepreneurs and investors. Here are a few of his words of wisdom:
- On M&A: When you go through an acquisition you have to plan for a scenario where bad things happen, but don’t start by getting into a business that you don’t understand. The metrics you judge your own business by should be the metrics you use to judge any business you acquire
- On employee retention: Millennials are looking for mission driven work. You should always empower employees to make a difference. If they feel like what they say has traction and can be implemented across the company, like a recycling program for example, then they will become more invested in their work
- On Green Initiatives: If you are advising people to do something, you should be the first one to implement it. We did a lot of work to become carbon neutral and now we are proud of both doing the right thing and being known for going green.
As the chat was wrapping up, Tien opened up for questions and someone from the audience asked, “If you had a chance to ask the net president a question about furthering innovation, what would it be?” (awesome question by the way.
His answer was this: How can you reduce the cost of education? Unless we have a well-educated workforce we will fall behind in the global market. It is expensive to go to school and we need to have a sustainable solution to lower the cost of education.
Thank you Sudhakar for spending time with us and sharing your great insights!
Immediately following the fireside chat we got straight into the company showcase, where each business has six minutes to pitch their idea to a room of investors and influencers. Lets meet the contestants:
- Ola Sage, Co-Founder and CEO, CyberRX
- CyberRX is the only solution on the market that lets companies assess their level of cyber security in hours, activate plans to reduce overall exposure and increase readiness. CyberRX is different than other solutions because their technology is faster, tailored to individual companies, and less expensive. Within three years Cyber RX aims to be a $10 million company, today they are seeking investment capital to respond to the demand of hundreds of companies.
- Nick Perdikis, CEO,
- Deven Software is a SaaS company that helps businesses effectually and effectively acquire and integrate companies. The process can be complex and be a multimillion-dollar process, often resulting in delays and missed targets. This solution is aimed to reduce complexity and increase efficiency. In a short time, Deven has gained influential customers, who are leaders of their industries. The company is looking to raise $1 million in funding to support marketing and operations
- John Holaday, PhD Founder & CEO, DisposeRX
- Flushing prescription drugs or disposing of them in the trash contaminates our ecosystem. DisposeRX has developed an effective, convenient, and inexpensive method of permanent drug disposal. Just like when you get flowers, the DisposeRX sachet is filled with a powder that you put in your prescription bottle, add water, shake it up, and in 10-15 minutes it becomes a solid from which drugs can’t be extracted. The product addresses the problems of poisoning, addiction, water pollution, and pharmaceutical company liabilities. The company is seeking $500k in funding.
- Ethan Gill, COO, LifeFuels
- More than 80 million wearables shipped last year but they give a limited view of output. LifeFuels has developed a Smart Nutrition Bottle, fuel pods, and an app that will allow a consumer to store and track their results. Today, the company has 35 notable fuel pod partners, 25 brand ambassadors/professional athletes, and premier technology integrations including fitbit, apple, underarmour. With $2.5 million raised to date, LifeFuels is looking for a $500k investment to fuel company growth.
- Grant Elliott, CEO, Ostendio
- The MyVCM platform is a cloud based workflow solution for cyber security and risk management. The product focuses on what happens after initial setup of a cyber security solution and on how you ensure everyone in your organization understands what you need to do to keep systems secure. Ostendio now has over 60 customers active on the platform. The company is looking to raise $350k to continue accelerating sales and marketing growth.
- Will Gleysteen, CO-Founder & CEO, ProGrow
- Hiring has an information problem. The process is too slow, error-prone, and expensive, costs employers over $5.75 billion per year. ProGrow enables the employer to create an easy application that allows applicant to fill out role specific information. ProGrow’s solution enables employers in any industry to meet legal hiring standards while designing the application process they want.
- Mark Todd, Founder & CEO, Skreens
- Skreens wants to change the way display technology works. You can have multiple screens (HD TV, games, internet, video, etc) casting to your screen simultaneously with zero lag. Skreens’ goal is to let the user be in control by changing the display from a one-way device, to a platform that is controlled by the viewer. It is easy to use for consumer and easy to integrate for developers. The company is seeking series A round of $8M in funding.
- Bob Mitchell, President, SnipMe, Inc.
- SnipMe network produces original short form TV shows focused on user submitted video. User generated video is free but it generally has poor quality and is very hard to monetize, only getting the attention of 2nd an 3rd tier advertisers if any at all. SnipMe produces episodes for less than $1000 and pushes them out via mobile, internet, and social media. The key is participation. SnipMe is looking to raise $1.25M to grow the business and propel into the next phase of the company.
- Jim Hatch, Founder & CEO, The Workforce Channel
- The Workforce Chanel is using video content to help educate the workforce for the next generation of jobs, and help hiring organizations learn how to reach their target market and leave a lasting impression with perspective hires. The company also creates unique proprietary branded profile pages and portals for industries like medical and hospitality. The Workforce Channel is looking for an investment of $500k for the company rollout.
- Arthur Lazerow, Chairman & CEO, Triea Technologies, LLC
- Triera is an environmentally friendly agriculture tech development company that turns a farmers greatest liability, manure, into profit. Triea wants to reduce the cost and headache for farmers of heating with propane which can cost $40k per year, and to recover valuable nutrients from animal manure that farmers can use. To further the growth of their business, Triea Technologies is seeking an investment of $1M.
As always, our team had a great time at yesterdays CONNECTpreneur Forum! Thank you to Tien Wong for putting on such a wonderful event! Stay tuned for CONNECTpreneur Part 2 to get the details on the rest of the event!