#parent | #kids | Startup profiles: Who are 6 emerging firms showcasing at NC TECH conference?

Editor’s note: Wade Johnson is the Digital Media Intern for the NC TECH Association.

RALEIGH – NC TECH announced recently the slate of six startups selected to present as part of the 2020 Startup Showcase at the State of Technology Conference on the mornings of July 23 and 24. Each startup gets 5 minutes to highlight their innovative solutions in front of hundreds of technology and business leaders. Here’s a look at each.

Conference attendees will vote to select a winning startup who will receive a prize package that includes cash and in-kind services.  The Startup Showcase is always a favorite component of the annual conference.

For more details including the full agenda and how to register, visit here. Meet the 2020 Startup Showcase below.

Collaborations Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Raleigh)

Website: www.collaborationspharma.com
Twitter: @collabchem
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/collaborations-pharmaceuticals-inc/
Name: Sean Ekins
Title:   CEO
Email:  sean@collaborationspharma.com

  1. Tell us the background on how your startup was founded – what were the challenges you were faced with that prompted the idea to start your business?

Originally, the company grew out of collaborations that I had (out of state) with different academic and other groups which I had been working with over the years. We had been contributing computational approaches to model their data to suggest compounds to test or solve ADME/Tox or drug discovery issues they had. The biggest challenge initially was stopping what I was doing at the time (consulting) to start the company full time.

  1. What do you love most about doing business in NC?

We have access to great employees and collaborators because of the universities such as NC State, UNC on our doorstep which we have close relationships with.

  1. Can you share some unique or fun facts about your company? What makes your business stand out?

Most of the company employees were students at either UNC or NC State. We work on predominantly rare and neglected diseases so that makes us a bit different. Some of these diseases literally may have only a handful of patients in the USA. We are not VC funded so we leverage no dilutive grants and contracts as well as fee for service work with companies. We provide our expertise to larger companies that may not have access to machine learning resources.

  1. What kind of technology trends have affected your company, and how has your company dealt with those trends?

We are riding the wave of machine learning. Having a major part of the company focused on developing and using technologies for drug discovery using machine learning puts us on the cutting edge. However, as a small company we are somewhat under the radar, which is fine because it has allowed us to get on with what we are doing without any distractions.

  1. What do you see for the future of your business?

Being ahead of the pack in applying technologies to pharmaceutical challenges is key. We have already started to look into quantum machine learning (QML) as one of the challenges we see is speed of model generation as data continues to accumulate. Being on campus at NC State has enabled us to collaborate to access the Q-hub. The COVID-19 outbreak has demonstrated that doing as much research as possible using computational approaches is cost effective and the projects we work on such as antivirals for rare viruses actually was a good foundation to work on emerging outbreaks like this.

Short tagline/description of your organization: No Disease is Too Small

Additional description/info: Collaborations Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a privately owned company that performs research and development on innovative therapeutics for multiple rare and infectious diseases. We partner with academics and companies to identify and translate early preclinical to clinical stage assets. We also perform fee for service work to apply our machine learning and drug discovery expertise to help other companies.

Floodlight Software (Cary)

Website: https://floodlightsoft.com
Twitter: @FloodlightSoft1
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/floodlight-software/
Name: Nasrin Azari
Title:   President & CEO
Email:  nazari@floodlightsoft.com

  1. Tell us the background on how your startup was founded – what were the challenges you were faced with that prompted the idea to start your business?

Floodlight Software was formed under the umbrella of Mobile Reach, another local small company. While we were attempting to build out mobile inspection apps for a customer, one of the largest providers of Non-Destructive Testing services in the world, we were stymied by the lack of flexibility and suitability of their chosen backend platform, ServiceNow. As we dug into their challenging use cases and provided the best apps we could, we discovered that there were no good existing options for this market, so we built Floodlight to address the need!

  1. What do you love most about doing business in NC?

NC is like a quiet haven for really cool small technology startups! I have been amazed at how many interesting small businesses there are here in my backyard. I love meeting other local business owners, and find them to be down-to-earth, smart, and genuinely interested in helping each other out. I think the small business community here is very strong, and yet you don’t feel like you get lost in the shuffle, like in some of the larger tech hubs.

  1. Can you share some unique or fun facts about your company? What makes your business stand out?

Although Floodlight is a recent startup, most of us have been working at Mobile Reach together for a long time; some of us for over 16 years! We’ve seen each other grow up, get married, go through divorce, have babies, raise children, retire, move, build homes, get pets, lose pets, lose parents and celebrate loads of milestones. We have built a little family outside of our families that is knowledgeable, supportive, and trustworthy.

  1. What kind of technology trends have affected your company, and how has your company dealt with those trends?

Our target customers are struggling with paper forms and manual processes in their business operations, but, on the other hand, they are looking at intelligent automation, drones, robots, IIOT, and digital twins to increase their inspection scope and capabilities. Floodlight sits right in the middle of this dichotomy between sophisticated tools & equipment and archaic processes. Floodlight bridges this gap by digitalizing the end-to-end inspection process and creating a platform that our customers can use to integrate important emerging technologies.

  1. What do you see for the future of your business?

I see Floodlight becoming the operating platform of choice for all NDT inspection companies and moving beyond NDT to other Testing, Inspection, and Certification (TIC) markets. I see Floodlight becoming a digital foundation that enables important emerging technologies that bring Industry 4.0 / NDE 4.0 concepts (smart, inter-connected machines) to the TIC market. Our work has the potential to significantly reduce human injuries and death, environmental damage, and other costs of major infrastructure failures by making the entire industry proactive versus reactive.

Short tagline/description of your organization: Floodlight Software – Inspection Management Platform

Additional description/info: Floodlight Software streamlines industrial and NDT inspection operations from quote to cash. Perform more inspections with fewer errors and less admin.

Gina Health (Charlotte) 

Website: https://www.meetgina.co/ 
Twitter: @StateOfTheArk
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/gina-health/
Name: Bryan Arkwright
Title:   Co-Founder
Email:  bryan@ginahealth.co

  1. Tell us the background on how your startup was founded – what were the challenges you were faced with that prompted the idea to start your business?

Kat and Bryan met in late 2018 and agreed to work on the idea for Gina Health together. The idea was additionally spec’d out and we applied to the Velocity Accelerator in Winston-Salem, NC and completed that in Summer of 2019 and by October we had formally founded Gina Health as an LLC. We identified a growing trend of “self-care” and needs in the stress and anxiety area; and a unique approach to leverage Kat’s experience working with Artificial Intelligence, Game Theory Design, and Bryan’s experience in Digital Health. Both Kat and Bryan have close friends and family who have struggled with stress, anxiety, and suicide; so there is a strong personal connection for both co-founders.

  1. What do you love most about doing business in NC?

NC has the mountains and the sea, both thriving communities and ecosystems. We also love that NC has so many higher learning institutions, especially that there are a total of four medical schools (WF, Duke, UNC, ECU). Our co-founder Bryan has an adjunct faculty appointment at WFU School of Law and we anticipate more B2B opportunities for collaboration with Wake and others in NC.

  1. Can you share some unique or fun facts about your company? What makes your business stand out?

Our business stands out in the fact we are leveraging an artificial intelligence platform linked to Game Theory design where we use a quiz and AI to personalize the self care tracks to help users improve their day to day encounters with stress and anxiety. While we started the company pre-COVID, we see the demand and fit for Gina Health in the market evolve to greater than we anticipated due to COVID”s sweeping effects related to social distancing, isolation, and economic hardships being experienced by so many across the globe. We are leveraging Kat’s international background and ability to speak 5 languages, being active in our promotion and launch of Gina Health at the US and International levels.

  1. What kind of technology trends have affected your company, and how has your company dealt with those trends?:

The technology trends affecting our company include AI, Game Theory, Digital Health App design, and explosive new growth in Telehealth/Telemedicine overall utilization by patients and providers. Due to COVID there is now increased demand/need forecasted globally for mental health and behavioral health resources.

  1. What do you see for the future of your business?

We launched with a strong passion to help those with stress and anxiety needs in new and unique ways with AI, game theory/gaming, and a self-care approach. We now feel with COVID the needs are heightened globally and we have a true social responsibility to continue to refine and launch the Gina Health product. Additionally, we are planning to have a dedicated track for veterans and armed service members.

Short tagline/description of your organization: Gina Health, Your Self-Care Companion

 Protopia (Raleigh)

Website: https://www.protopia.co
Twitter: @protopia
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/protopia/
Name: Max Leisten
Title:   CEO
Email:  max@protopia.co

  1. Tell us the background on how your startup was founded – what were the challenges you were faced with that prompted the idea to start your business?

Out of college, I wanted to become a recruiter as I have always had a passion to help people with their career. After 20 years as a product leader at venture-backed SaaS companies, I went back to my “roots”, met with a lot of job searchers, and learned that it’s too hard to ask for and give help. This is especially true for alumni and students who desire, as graduates of the same institution, to support each other. But existing solutions fall short.

  1. What do you love most about doing business in NC?

If you had to design the perfect environment to build a sustainable company, you’d mix collaboration, smart talent, work-life balance, innovation, compassion, funding, and affordability. That’s what we have here in the Triangle (though funding remains a challenge).

  1. Can you share some unique or fun facts about your company? What makes your business stand out?

Duke, NC State, and UNC Chapel Hill use Protopia to help their alumni and students connect.

  1. What kind of technology trends have affected your company, and how has your company dealt with those trends?

We have engineered Protopia to take advantage of a convergence of maturing technologies, from artificial intelligence / machine learning, design thinking, UI-less interfaces, open source, to plug & play integrations. Unlike incumbents in our space, we don’t offer another social media platform but meet our users where they already operate – to minimize change and drive outsized performance.

  1. What do you see for the future of your business?

Our focus is on building the most-advanced and most-trusted engagement solution for universities across the globe – by investing in talent, technology, and partnerships.

Short tagline/description of your organization: AI-powered alumni activation platform

Additional description/info: Protopia, the leading alumni activation platform for colleges and universities, connects higher education communities for advice and networking at institutions such as Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University.  Based in Raleigh, North Carolina, and founded in 2017, Protopia’s artificial intelligence technology increases community engagement and volunteering at scale, without another database for the institution or another app for alumni. Protopia enhances schools’ existing platforms or can be implemented as a standalone solution.

SmartFox Technologies (Wilmington)

Website: www.smartfoxtechnologies.com
Twitter: @smartfoxT
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/smartfox-technologies/
Name: Phil Everhart
Title:   President/Founder
Email:  phil.everhart@smartfoxtechnologies.com

  1. Tell us the background on how your startup was founded – what were the challenges you were faced with that prompted the idea to start your business?

Today’s Executives and Leaders are faced with many challenges which can make a great company average. Their job is to bring results, by teaching, coaching, and leading their Sales Team in the practice of using tools like Salesforce to efficiently manage opportunities and forecast results. Once their Salesforce system is built, companies rely on Sales Executives to then provide forecasts in Salesforce, which are often inaccurate based on their perceived knowledge of a customer’s procurement cycle without realistic data points. With over 20 plus years of experience SmartFox Technologies was formed to create the first ever Business Forecast Management Application called SmartFox Prime. Designed with an easy to use, user friendly experience, the SmartFox Prime Application enables a Salesforce Customer to bring more accountability and accuracy to their sales team pipeline while increasing forecast probability.

  1. What do you love most about doing business in NC?

I have lived in NC my entire life. My favorite thing about doing business in NC are the people and the culture of our State. Great NC leaders give back their time to help entrepreneurs like me become successful.

  1. Can you share some unique or fun facts about your company? What makes your business stand out?

My kids were instrumental in helping me pick the design for our company logo which includes an image of a Fox at the end. I feel their choice for the SmartFox Technologies logo truly represents the power of our SmartFox Prime Application and our corporate goals of helping others be successful through structure, accountability, and accuracy.

  1. What kind of technology trends have affected your company, and how has your company dealt with those trends?

SmartFox Technologies is confident that our partnership with Salesforce (who has over 97,000 customers) was the right technology platform to develop the SmartFox Prime – Business Forecast Management System. With the impact of the COVID-19 virus, SmartFox Technologies feels now more than ever business owners across the world are going to keep investing in technology like Salesforce’s CRM System manage their business.

  1. What do you see for the future of your business?

Sales is the lifeline to success for every business. It’s what helps companies pay their employees, cover operating expenses, buy more inventory, market new products, and attract new investors.  SmartFox Technologies future is seeing and sharing the success stories of all the Salesforce customers who implement SmartFox Prime.

Short tagline/description of your organization: SmartFox Prime© – Business Forecast Management System

Additional description/info: Nominated for 2019 Salesforce TechnoJam Award, SmartFox Prime© is an application developed by SmartFox Technologies™ for Sales Executives. The Application’s purpose is to provide a Business Forecast Management (BFM) System which helps Company Leaders predict future outcomes based on rules, past events, and management insight. Try us for FREE for thirty days, by downloading the SmartFox Prime Application on Salesforce AppExchange. https://appexchange.salesforce.com/listingDetail?listingId=a0N3A00000FR5sQUAT

 Tango Legal (Raleigh)

Website: www.tangolegal.com
Twitter: @tangolegal
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/tangolegal/
Name: Sam Tate
Title:   Co-Founder / President
Email:  sam@tangolegal.com

  1. Tell us the background on how your startup was founded – what were the challenges you were faced with that prompted the idea to start your business?

Our story began in 2016 while working for the NC Court system as digital project managers and web developers. While in those roles, we witnessed firsthand the complexity of the legal system and the limited options people have when starting a legal process. Our initial concept was an app that digitized court forms but we soon realized that legal processes do not begin with complex paperwork; they begin with questions. With this knowledge, we focused our efforts on understanding why 77% of consumer legal problems don’t receive legal assistance, yet 81% of attorneys are looking for new clients. What we discovered was that consumers ask vague, plain-language questions when searching online for legal help. Unfortunately, this leads to poor search results that are not from local, logical, or legitimate sources. The fact that over 50% of online searches are now made via voice only accelerates this problem. Tango Legal was created in response to these challenges.

  1. What do you love most about doing business in NC?

There’s a ton of diversity in our community with many resources to tap into. Overall, NC embraces the spirit of innovation and that is something we’ve found to be priceless when growing our company. In our early days, we had the opportunity to participate in accelerators with LaunchRALEIGH, Duke Law School and LexisNexis. When developing product-market fit, we were able to work with solo attorneys in rural towns and large firms in big cities like Charlotte and Raleigh. Last but not least, as a minority founded company, we’ve been well supported by the tech community through mentorship and advisory connections. There is not a state in the US that can match the resources NC has to offer.

  1. Can you share some unique or fun facts about your company? What makes your business stand out?

We used to go by Civvis and rebranded as Tango Legal in December 2019. We are the first Voice Tech company for the legal industry. We work with Attorneys and the Courts to improve the user experience when starting a legal process. Many times the Courts are left out of the innovation cycle. We’ve embraced them as a part of our overall “Justice-as-a-Service” mission.

  1. What kind of technology trends have affected your company, and how has your company dealt with those trends?

We made a big bet on Voice Technology a couple years ago and we’re now seeing exponential growth in usage. Forecasts show that 8 billion voice assistants will be in use by 2023 and the Voice Tech economy will be worth a trillion dollars by 2025. We’re excited to see how A.I. and screenless technology evolves in the coming years for our company and the legal world.

  1. What do you see for the future of your business?

Our plan is to roll out nationally within the next year. As our usage grows, we are privy to insights and data within the legal market on a scale never seen before. We’ll be releasing national reports on consumer trends as well as integrating predictive analysis features for our customers. We hope to play a major role in developing technology for the next generation of solo, small, and mid-sized law firms.

Short tagline/description of your organization: Tango Legal – We connect people to trusted legal providers.

Additional description/info: Tango Legal connects attorneys with clients seeking their services on over 150+ million smart devices. Our platform uses conversational A.I. and NLP to provide plain-language answers to legal and court FAQs. Features include targeted voice marketing on Alexa and Google Assistants, opt-in lead generation and robust legal industry analytics.

 

 

 

 


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