Angel Capital Summit Roundup: a booming success

If I were an angel investor I’d probably have written four or five checks yesterday.

Well, I should probably qualify that. I’m not a finance guy, and I haven’t had a chance to vet the leadership teams and have my team review the science behind some of the green tech proposals. And hey, I thought the University of Colorado made a great decision when it hired Rick Neuheisel, so my judgment is far from infallible. But from where I sat, I saw several start-up presentations yesterday that I simply don’t think can miss. For instance:

  • Energy Environmental Corporation has a system that’s aimed at saving energy and improving the air quality in residential homes, and they seem to be well down the road.
  • Symbios Technologies is developing a next-generation, low-cost plasma water treatment technology that seems to have a couple of immediate applications and a couple more potentially important applications with waiting markets. Their presentation began by asserting that water was going to be the crisis of the 21st Century, and if you’ve studied the issue at all you know they’re right. Best of luck to them.
  • MobileIQ: couldn’t miss if they tried. Their Headlight Route Planner is a Web-based solution that integrates mobile mapping, smart phones and cloud computing to provide route planning for small businesses with local delivery fleets. The concept is elegant in its conception and execution and their main issue is going to be how to deal with large-scale logistics clients. I asked about their interest in that market and they were emphatic that they had no interest in it. However, I have worked a little bit with a former client in that space and trust me, they’re going to want in because MobileIQ is doing what they do for a lot less money. When I spoke with MobileIQ’s CEO after the session he said that they’re already fighting off inquiries from that direction.
  • Tithing Made Easy: electronic payment system for churches. I can sum this one up in four words: “license to print money.”
  • Boomerang Asset Recovery: This firm has customers and impressive results in hand and they’re seeking funding primarily to help them speed up their growth arc. In a nutshell, their technology helps large corporations in locating and recovering over $7B in corporate assets being held as unclaimed property by various state and federal unclaimed property agencies. You know how checks get lost in the mail? Well, a lot of those checks are being held in trust by government agencies until the owners come and find the missing cash. Great idea, smart leadership team, great presentation.
  • I didn’t get to see the ContractSmart presentation, but was told by a colleague that it may have been the best presentation she saw all day. I did get to talk with CEO Jeffrey Kohn after the conference, and their platform has the potential to completely remake the contracting industry. That isn’t hyperbole – I can’t imagine why a contractor would choose to scope and plan a job the old-fashioned way once they know about this system, and the company’s marketing approach includes a referral program that encourages wildfire-scale viral.

Sadly, companies were presenting four at a time, so I’m certain that I missed several others that were on the same level. I hate that I didn’t get to see the presos from Radish Systems and Samso HITE, for example. Radish is developing the sorts of enterprise support mobile applications that I’ve been carping about for five years now and I know there’s a massive market need for what they’re doing. Samso HITE, if their products were explained to me correctly, are producing a proprietary wireless antenna product that my residential development could desperately use. I’d love it if my mobile phone – which is the only phone I have – would actually work when I’m in my office or living room.

I came away from the ACS with one overarching impression: the signal:noise ratio was through the roof. It was evident that the organizers had devoted tremendous energy to vetting and preparing the companies selected to present. The same can be said for the presenters during Monday’s educational workshops. I’ve already commented (via Facebook and Twitter) on killer sessions by Chia-Li Chien and Erika Napoletano, and I hate the fact that I was scheduled against Jon Wilkins, Chris Roberts and Mark Schumacher. It’s a miracle anybody came to my session (although I wound up with a nice crowd; thanks to Tara Rogers of RealtyTMS it was a crowd that taught me something cool – did you know that they’re now using augmented reality in the real estate world to provide virtual staging for homes? How incredibly clever.)

Huge props to Kevin Johansen and the rest of his team from The Business Catapult. I really didn’t know what to expect going in and came away incredibly impressed. Also, many thanks to a phalanx of volunteers from the Daniels College of Business at DU. With an event like this there’s so much that can go wrong – trust me, I know from ugly experience – but this crew was on top of everything.

And now, I have to go follow up with some of these folks. I need to learn more about what they’re doing. I might even be able to help out here and there…. 🙂

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