This Wednesday, startup companies, investors and Binghamton University students gathered at the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator for the second-annual Startup Summit.
The day-long event, hosted by BU’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Partnerships, was composed of a series of panels and pitch events for students, businesses and investors to attend. Dan Mori, director of business incubation at BU and the moderator of the event, said this year’s Startup Summit was designed to bring together investors and the Incubator’s companies to celebrate the 24 resident companies.
“The biggest reason we began this summit was to celebrate the activities of startup founders,” Mori said. “We want to encourage founders who are willing to bet on themselves, willing to look at the world differently, to challenge the status quo — a person who’s willing to face adversity. On the Startup Summit, we can celebrate founders, as well as link them up with capital and businesses.”
According to Mori, this year’s Startup Summit aimed to highlight the startup scene in the city of Binghamton and forge connections between businesses, with a greater focus on uniting investors and startups than last year’s more introductory summit.
“Last year, the focus was educating and showcasing what we’re doing here,” Mori said. “Pretty much everything we’ve done today has either been pitch-focused or investor-focused. Each year we want to look at the problems that our companies and teams are facing and build a conference that can best support them, benefit them, celebrate them.”
The Startup Summit held three pitch events as opportunities for its resident companies to connect with investors. Four startups occupying the Incubator pitched for a $50,000 grant from investors who attended the summit. The startups, BRASH Engines, Pressure Ulcer Prevention Pad (PUPP), TeleHealth365 and AgZeit, each had 10 minutes to describe their products, consumer base and marketing and sales plans to audience members.
Nate Fisher, ‘17, co-founded PUPP and pitched his company to the audience of investors. PUPP produces ulcer prevention pads for individuals in wheelchairs. Fisher said the support from the startup incubator allowed his company to grow and develop its product.
“We started off with just a really rough idea and a prototype, and when we got to the incubator they gave us the resources to turn a prototype into an actual product that really solves peoples’ problems,” Fisher said.
The Startup Summit also included a clean energy panel, a discussion of clean energy technologies in the area and a lunch hosted by Dos Rios Cantina.
Following the second pitch event, attendees gathered for a “Fireside Chat” for preparing companies for investment. Elisa Miller-Out, managing partner of Chloe Capital, a venture capital firm dedicated to investing in women-led companies, spoke during the panel. Miller-Out, who began her career as a tech entrepreneur before becoming an investor, gave advice on managing investments in tech companies.
“A good rule of thumb if you’re new to investing in startups through [venture capital] funds like Chloe Capital, thinking in terms of single digits of your portfolio is a good rule of thumb, about five percent of your portfolio is a great amount to spend,” Miller-Out said. “Because it is higher risk, higher reward.”
Miller-Out also provided advice to startups asking for money from investors.
“Lead with the numbers, that’s a great place to start,” Miller-Out said. “Don’t wait too long to tell investors that you’re making $100,000 a month in recurring revenue.”
The Startup Summit hosted startups developing products in a range of industries, including cosmetics, clean energy, medical devices and virtual reality. Mori said he felt supporting a diverse portfolio of businesses was important to the Incubator’s success.
“I just met a freshman at Binghamton University and his idea was something as simple as a game,” Mori said. “When he showed me what he developed, it was fascinating. It doesn’t even have to be as technologically advanced as a med-tech device. You look at Cards Against Humanity — that thing was a rocket ship. I would really encourage any student who has an idea to come to the Incubator.”