January 12, 2020

Innovative Startups Pitch at Silicon Valley Funding Summit 2020

Once again, I attended the annual consumer and electronics show in Las Vegas, Nev. Owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®, a Virginia-based trade organization. CES® is promoted as "the world's largest and most influential tech event." While a separate post will focus on my experience of attending CES 2020, this post addresses an event, "Silicon Valley Funding Summit 2020," I attended on Jan. 6th.

Co-produced by Angel Launch, which connects Silicon Valley, American and foreign financial professionals and investors to global startups and private companies for high-level networking and deal-making to build successful ventures, and ENRICH in the USA, which establishes a network of European research and innovation centers and hubs throughout the United States acting as a central contact point for European research and innovation actors, the Silicon Valley Funding Summit aims to connect accredited investors and corporate partners to global startups. Those startups presenting to a panel of investors and audience come from a variety of sectors including consumer and enterprise apps; devices and platforms; hardware; software; data analytics; robotics; machine learning; smart devices; digital health; fintech; and cybersecurity.

Some of the companies that I found of particular interest include:
  • BARU's mission is to empower the customer you to create a home that fits your unique lifestyle and personality. Our made-to-measure furniture can fit right in. Design every dimension to the inch and preview it in your space with our Augmented Reality app.
  • Brilliant Sole focuses on merging footwear and virtual reality.
  • Calamus Electric Private Limited (Calamus) promotes itself has built the world's first e-bike with an inbuilt TFT touchscreen that interacts with the Ultrabike's advanced features.
  • Sensors provided by Caregiver Smart Solutions track movement and patterns to provide caregivers with some reassurance that things are as they should be, without the use of invasive video cameras or wearable tracking devices.
  • CloudBackend provides a world-wide service for accelerating applications and harvesting data through a distributed cloud with intelligent data management. The platform is designed for smart vehicles, telecom infrastructure, public clouds, on-premise, smart devices in homes and offices, and in between.
  • Cyber Reconnaissance, Inc. (CYR3CON) specializes in combining artificial intelligence with information mined from malicious hacker communities to avoid cyberattacks.
  • Dr. i-Coach® by Eyes4lives is a patented sensor and software package that sits on top of a laptop/monitor and monitors the users blink rate, sitting height, screen distance, screen time and ambient lighting. The product will alert the user if they are in violation of any of the above-mentioned factors and will coach them on developing and maintaining proper sitting and screen use habits.
  • FATRI (Xiamen) Technology Co., Ltd. (FATRI) focuses on the development of new materials, chip design (MEMS Chip & AI Chip), sensors, data acquisition designed assemblies and AI data analysis platforms.
  • Joué makes MIDI instruments for creative musicians. The Joué Board is a MIDI controller to play drums, guitar, keyboard and more.
  • MJN Neuroserveis developed MJN-SERAS, an earpiece that records brain activity from the ear canal. In combination with AI algorithms the device triggers a warning signal minutes before an epileptic seizure occurs and also records it during the onset.
  • UltraUVTech revolutionizes the way consumers disinfect wet and dry surfaces through its reliable ultraviolet sterilizing technology.
The summit presented me with the opportunity of sitting on a panel of accredited investors. The panelists were asked to briefly provide advice to the presenting entrepreneurs and audience members. I recommended that entrepreneurs adopt the mantra "if you do not know your numbers, you do not know your business." Entrepreneurs should know various financial metrics for their startup such as gross gross profit margins; expenses as a percentage of their gross profit; annual operating expenses segmented by sales and marketing, general and administrative (G&A), and research and development (R&D); and cost of revenue (sales).

In addition, entrepreneurs should comprehend eight risk factors that may prevent their startup from becoming a successful (i.e., profitable) venture.

While I found that several companies are developing useful products and services, I was underwhelmed by many of the actual presentations. First, most entrepreneurs did not complete their presentations within the time allowed. Being prepared including practicing the pitch will go a long way in presenting a polished presentation.

I also found many entrepreneurs spent too much time explaining the problem they are trying to solve, but not enough time to thoroughly explain the solution their business is providing to their customer.

And when pitching to prospective investors, a strong presentation should include the "WOW!! Factor" -- why are customers excited to do business with you?

Mike Grigg, who provides soft skills leadership coaching in storytelling, produced the images below on how to improve your presentation skills, which my colleagues and I find useful.

I am grateful for having the opportunity to attend the Silicon Valley Funding Summit 2020. The organizers did a great job in producing an event both entrepreneurs and investors found valuable.

What advice do you have for startup entrepreneurs?

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

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