AOL founder Steve Case came to Minneapolis on his "Rise of the Rest" tour earlier this week and held a pitch competition for 10 Minnesota startups. The winning pitch came from Deepinder Singh of Mankato-based 75F, whose reward was a $100,000 investment from Case.
Singh's business is impressive -- he just won the Minnesota Cup too -- but what about the other nine?
Totally unscientifically, here are three other pitches that stuck out to me. I was there, but if you weren't, you can watch all ten pitches over at TechdotMN.
Apruve: The company wants to become PayPal for business.
CEO Michael Noble held up a folder full of paper and said this is still the way most companies end up paying for things – with paper forms and checks.
The Minneapolis-based company bills itself as a paperless platform for all that -- integrated, visible to decision-makers, and eliminating the need for invoices, requisition forms, purchase orders and paper checks.
“Our vision is to become the standard for e-commerce in business to business scenarios,” Noble said.
Zipnosis: The firm makes an online platform that guides patients through an interview on their phone or some other device, allowing "local clinicians" to decide whether and how to treat the patient.
“How and where health care is going to happen is fundamentally changing,” CEO Jon Pearce said.
The company, based in St. Paul, was started by some of the key folks from MinuteClinic, which was acquired by CVS. The new venture, Zipnosis, has raised some capital. Now it offers virtual care by smartphone or other device as a service to health care providers, and has been adding one client per month without any outbound sales effort, Pearce said. The firm diagnoses and treats a patient every 11 minutes right now, compared to one every two hours in 2013.
Regulatory challenges have been the biggest obstacle, but “still, our biggest competitor is the status quo,” Pearce said.
GreenBook Network: A supplier diversity platform that matches buyers with qualified minority and women-owned businesses.
Duane Johnson, founder of the company, said only 1-3% of contracts go to minority-owned businesses in Minnesota.
Too many certifications are required and help comes from an alphabet soup of agencies. Greenbook gives diverse businesses a simple way to get registered, and then communicate with buyers who want to hire minority, women and LGBT-owned contractors.
“We are creating a way in which small, women and minority-owned businesses can get access to capital and contracts,” Johnson said. “Think of it as an Angie’s List meets LinkedIn.”
The platform generates revenue via subscriptions, licensing and some premium features, Johnson said.
A crucial challenge for him is to get buy-in on the demand side, to sign up for the service some of the big companies looking to connect with contractors who aren't white, heterosexual men. Sounded like he's made inroads with government entities, who obviously also hire a lot of contractors.
Here's a full list of the companies who presented to the panel of judges, which included Case, Jacquie Berglund, Erin Newkirk, David Golden, Abir Sen and Prince Wallace.
- Not On My Nickel: the first independent, direct retirement/tools platform
- Rowbot Systems: Robotic solutions to the most pressing problems in agriculture
- Zipnosis: Zipnosis creates profoundly simple healthcare experiences.
- RetraceHealth: An online platform that patients use to get medical care in their homes.
- GreenBook Network: A supplier diversity platform that matches buyers with qualified suppliers
- Apruve: The B2B way to pay online
- Grumbl: We monetize on the $161 of food waste
- Fresh Vine: Membership Software Designed to Get Communities Rooted and Growing
- 75F: Nest meets Sleep Comfort