Rocket Pitch audience hears from investors, startups
October 31, 2013By Jenny Callison
Editor's note: This version corrects the company name for Social Pathway Solutions.
In a marked departure from previous Rocket Pitch events hosted by University of North Carolina Wilmington’s entrepreneurship center, Wednesday’s session attempted to strike a balance between education and opportunity.
The audience, which filled a meeting room at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship facility, first heard from two seasoned early stage investors: Don Rainey of Grotech Ventures and Norvell Miller of Southeast Interactive Technology Funds. The two talked about the growth stages startups must pass through before they can fully emerge as a viable business, and the obstacles that confront such fledgling ventures.
“Here [in North Carolina] there’s not enough acceptance of failure,” Rainey said. “We [investors] expect a lot of stuff to end badly.”
The investors also talked about crowdfunding, which is more common in Europe than it is currently in the United States.
Overall, Miller said he is “as bullish as I’ve ever been” about investing in early stage ventures, but cautioned that, with technological innovation moving so rapidly, a tech venture’s timeframe can become more important than its ability to raise money because “there’s an expiration date on the concept.”
Presentations from two very young technology companies followed the investor discussion.
Alex Vidor pitched his startup, Social Pathway Solutions, to audience members. The company creates software to help teachers share information with their students about apps they approve as part of their curriculum.
Kurt Taylor, who started NextGlass with his father, described how the app deciphers what he termed the DNA of a particular wine so that wine drinkers can get usable recommendations for wines that have similar characteristics to ones the drinkers like.
Audience members asked questions of both Vidor and Taylor, wanting details about everything from ease of use to source of financing. In turn, both entrepreneurs had specific, nonfinancial requests of audience members, not the least of which was Taylor's invitation to his listeners to sign up for NextGlass's Beta test online.
Earlier Rocket Pitch events have featured five ventures, each asking for funding. CIE director Jim Roberts has changed the event's format somewhat and has reserved the platform for young companies that are ready for exposure to investors.