GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., May 2, 2013 -- Start Garden, the $15,000,000 seed fund that selects individual ideas each week for investments, and opportunities for further investment, today hosted more than 70 investors from the Midwest region for the organization’s first-ever Investor Day. Lake Michigan Credit Union and Varnum LLP sponsored the event.
Start Garden Investor Day was designed to help cultivate Michigan’s investment culture and build awareness of current activity taking place within the region’s startup community. The organization brought together eight of its portfolio companies, all early-stage startups, to present before investors. These included Fetchnotes, Greenlancer, Hip Shot Dot, IMRSV, Local Orbit, OXX, Siliskin and Verifiy Valid. All eight reached a stage that they wanted an opportunity to introduce themselves to the community.
“While our business environment requires a culture that is friendly to entrepreneurs, it also requires an investment culture that is friendly to early stage startups,” said Rick DeVos, CEO of Start Garden. “When startups are reaching that point of a fast expansion, they need hundreds of thousands rather than tens of thousands of dollars, and that requires a community of investors who will help take them to the next stage.”
As mentioned, the eight companies that presented during Start Garden Investment Day included:
Fetchnotes tries to sort out the “junk drawer” of our brains, that includes tasks for work, groceries we need to buy, books we want to read and any number of things that pop up when someone gets busy. Fetchnotes is an intuitive way to grab a thought in the moment, share it with another person, or return to it when it’s most relevant.
As demand grows for green energy projects, building contractors struggle to navigate the engineers and processes needed to get from feasibility studies to construction. By focusing on discreet steps, Greenlancer drastically reduces the surplus time and soft costs of the green contracting process, moving each project along a virtual assembly line.
HIP SHOT DOT
First-person shooters are among the most popular category of video games, the Hip Shot Dot device is an LED red-dot sight that attaches to a television or monitor to significantly increase the accuracy for the user. This simple, stand-alone device works with every video game platform and integrates seamlessly into the game experience.
IMRSV’s Cara software can turn any web-enabled camera into an intelligent sensor to create a new way to measure the world. It provides real-time, anonymous audience analytics from any environment. Cara enables new methods measuring people, based on age, gender, attention span, distance and more.
The farm-to-table movement has grown more than 18 percent every year for nearly a decade, while conventional food systems have flat-lined at one percent. Local food systems require new market makers to crate and manage supply chains that connect farmers to buyers. Local Orbit facilitates this $8 billion market with an affordable and simple supply-chain management software.
The home appliances industry is built entirely around the “nester.” OXX Products is creating a new category of rugged appliances for the tens of millions of workers and outdoor enthusiasts who spend a significant portion of their lives in the field.
For years, plastic has been the material of choice for moms who want a durable, non-shattering way to feed infants and toddlers. Recent studies have revealed the amount of toxins leaching into food from the plastic. Silikids has created a patented, silicone “skin” (Siliskin) that makes a standard drinking class non-breakable and non-toxic.
While electronic payments have become ubiquitous, payments by check remain the standard for business and banks still process more than 24 billion paper checks every year. VerifyValid has created a safer service that their customers use to send checks through the Internet and print using plain paper, eliminating the costs of printing and shipping and saving companies an average of $1/check.
Unlike any other program, each week the Start Garden team selects an idea and the broader community endorses another idea through startgarden.com. An idea can come from anyone, anywhere, and each idea receives $5,000. Start Garden can continue to invest up to $500,000 in a single idea. Since April 2012 Start Garden has invested in 95 projects through startgarden.com.
Each Start Garden investment receives a combination of financial, intellectual and social capital. Each person who receives the initial $5,000 investment has 60-90 days to experiment and then return to give an in-person presentation at Update Night. Ideas can receive additional funding, up to $500,000, to continue to move forward in the program. As of this date, there are 30 simultaneous experiments taking place at the $5,000 level. Additional detail about Start Garden and its programming can be found at startgarden.com.