The Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (NACET) is cultivating impressive businesses. As proof, two NACET clients are making gains in the Venture Madness Tournament, which culminates in a live demonstration.
The event began in January and pitted 64 promising startup companies against one another in bracket-style, head-to-head competition.
NACET-client AniCell BioTech, located in Chandler, is one of 16 finalists that made the third cut and moved to the championship level this month. AniCell creates regenerative treatments to heal tissue-related injuries in animals. Through this competition, the company has a chance at a share of a $20,000 cash prize and a $300,000 investment pool from active regional investors, as well as the opportunity to be named 2017 Venture Madness Champion.
“The rewards for participating in Venture Madness are immense,” said NACET President/CEO Scott Hathcock. “In addition to the possible cash prizes, it opens the doors to potential investors, clients and networks for these companies that could contribute greatly to their future success.”
Another NACET client, InfluenceLogic, an influence marketing company located in Tempe, made it to Round 32 as one of the top startups in the competition but fell off last month. Influence marketing focuses on using key leaders to drive a brand’s message to the larger market, rather than marketing to a large group of consumers.
“The IT company was in Boston looking to move to California. The typical thing in IT is to go to California and THAT valley [Silicon Valley],” explained Hathcock. But after talking to NACET and getting introduced to executives with UGG® Boots, part of Deckers Brands, in Flagstaff, the young company moved to the Valley of the Sun in Arizona and rebranded in 2016. “They moved to another Valley,” said Hathcock with a smile.
NACET helped InfluenceLogic rebrand, pivot its focus on another market, develop rate cards and network. “NACET has been instrumental for us gaining our current traction and momentum,” declared Steve Messa, COO at InfluenceLogic.
“InfluenceLogic for me was a case study to prove this NACET mentor model could be effective and deliver results no matter where the startup client is located,” said Hathcock. “NACET is not just physical locations, but it is for anyone no matter where they are.” Besides their Flagstaff location, NACET has two sites in the Valley of the Sun: Chandler and Maricopa.
AniCell BioTech that made it to Round 16 has been working with Chandler Innovations, which is operated by NACET. Brandon Ames, founder, said that the Chandler Innovations location has provided the company affordable wet lab space and that the city’s incubation program run by NACET gave him access to a wealth of experts and industry-specific information essential to his company’s success. “We’re grateful every day for the entrepreneurial ecosystem that’s been made available to us,” he said.
Christine Bailey, executive director at the City of Chandler’s Chandler Innovations praises Ames for his willingnes to learn, even though he is a seasoned entrepreneur. “Our job is to help him identify potential gaps and line him up with the right resources – mentors, advisors, investors – at the right time to fill these gaps. His job is to reach out to these contacts, listen to what they have to say, and apply what makes sense to his business.”
That partnership has worked quite well since AniCell became a client in late 2015. Besides making the cuts to Venture Madness finals, the company has been awarded $280,000 in grants, and is on its way to break-even in less than two years, a significant milestone for a startup in the biotech sector.
Invest Southwest, in partnership with the Arizona Commerce Authority, determined the top 64 finalists in January. Invest Southwest is the premier organization for connecting investors with the best and brightest ventures in the region and offers year-round opportunities for investors to connect with emerging growth companies. The 16 finalists will compete in from March 8 – 10 at the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale.
“NACET helps connect – in a powerful way – entrepreneurs and mentors throughout Arizona,” concluded Hathcock. FBN
By Stacey Wittig, FBN
View the startup companies’ pitch videos or buy tickets to the event at http://investsouthwest.org/venture-madness
NACET – Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology
2225 N Gemini Drive, Flagstaff