If you’ve ever seen Shark Tank, you’ve gotten a glimpse of the nerve, expertise and determination it takes to pitch to potential investors. You must absolutely know what you’re doing, where you’re headed and what you can offer.
Through Rady School’s StartR Accelerator, a 100% philanthropy-supported, six-month program, teams comprised of at least one Rady or UC San Diego student or alumnus are provided with mentoring, workshops, co-working space, and connections to funding sources. At the end of the program, StartR Demo Day is the teams’ Shark Tank moment.
On October 2nd, six startups from the Fall 2019 StartR cohort: FlexAir, Athlete Initiative, DeepFlow, SurfUp, Project: Pangolin and FreeGen Technologies showcased their companies in five-minute presentations in front of San Diego’s entrepreneurial community, including several successful StartR alums. If you weren’t one of the 160+ attendees at this Demo Day, here’s what you missed:
How Far We’ve Come: StartR accelerator was founded in 2013 by none other than Rady School students, and since then, it’s served a whole lot of them. Dr. Lada Rasochova, executive director of Rady’s California Institute for Innovation and Development (CIID), and Kim Davis King, co-director, shared that 152 startup teams have participated in StartR and raised a remarkable $85.9 million under the guidance of CIID and more than 50 mentors. Not only that, but twelve StartR companies have been accepted into business incubators, five teams went on to found a second startup, two received investment from the Rady Venture Fund and two exited to larger companies.
Accomplished Alums: If those figures weren’t enough to demonstrate StartR’s impact, at Demo Day, we got to hear it first-hand from StartR alumni.
Demo Day emcee Ashley Van Zeeland, Ph.D (Rady MBA ’12, co-founder and former CEO of Cypher Genomics, which she sold to Human Longevity) is now the VP of Product Development Business Operations at Illumina. “I can say with 100% confidence that I would not be where I am today without the support, the backing and the constant encouragement from the Rady School and the StartR program,” she said.
Ana Morena, StartR Inclusion alumna and CEO and founder of Navega Therapeutics, shared that the business has raised nearly $1 million from investors. Martyn Gross (Rady MBA ’15), StartR Rady alum, founder of Clarify Medical and President of Stratify Genomics said, “I can’t express my gratitude enough.” His thanks were echoed by Julio de Unamuno IV, (Rady MBA ’14) StartR Rady alum and CEO of lab software startup LabFellows, which has garnered 2,300 customers, more than $3 million in funding and a recent write-up in Xconomy. “This started here with Rady,” he said. “You guys were here before anyone else was.”
Six Talented Teams:
Former Navy pilot and FlexAir CEO Paul Wynns (Rady MBA ’20) presented “the flight school training tomorrow’s flight leaders.”
Athlete Initiative co-founders Robbie Beyer (Rady MSBA ’20) and Amy Kame pitched their sexual violence prevention program for collegiate athletic departments. “We ask that everyone join us in creating a safer campus community today,” they said.
Takuya Onda and Yusaku Nakamura (both Rady MBA ’20) of Deep Flow offered insight into their cloud-based, large-scale simulation software.
Chris Hissom and Natalie Moazzez (both Rady MBA ’19) shared their “Bird scooter of surfboards,” SurfUp, an automated surf rental station and smartphone app. Unlike Bird scooters, the team said, because SurfUp houses the rental boards at a station, you won’t find them scattered “everywhere.”
Ayush Sapra and Ana Dasgupta presented Project: Pangolin, an initiative to recycle plastic waste in Myanmar to produce an alternative construction material. To demonstrate the material’s strength, Sapra stood on a recycled footstool during the presentation.
Casey Fitzpatrick of FreeGen Technologies told us about the SeaSkimmer, their autonomous, machine marine drone that tracks and collects trash in ports and harbors. In other words, he said, it’s the “Roomba of the ocean.”
And the Awards Go to: After the company pitches, two StartR teams were recognized with a $250 prize each. Deep Flow was selected for the Excellence Award by the judges, and SurfUp was voted Audience Choice. Additionally, Derrick Oien, CEO and founder of ScoreStream was recognized with the Guru Award for his mentorship, and Karen Anderson, partner at Cooley LLP was recognized with the Spark Award in appreciation of her sponsorship.
The next round of StartR began this month, with new teams under the wings of CIID and community mentors. Be on the lookout for the next Demo Day in Spring 2020!