Demo day arrives for 10 budding businesses at Sprint Mobile Health Accelerator

06/12/2014 10:48 AM

06/12/2014 9:27 PM

Big ideas and months of work met up with interested money Thursday evening inside the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

It was demo day, as founders of 10 young businesses essentially reached graduation after three months of intensive work at the Sprint Mobile Health Accelerator.

Each CEO got five minutes on the stage of the Muriel Kauffman Theater to pitch a group of vetted investors. These were angel investors and venture capitalists with an eye on striking a deal.

If any presenters had a case of the nerves, Wednesday’s rehearsal may have helped.

Thursday, however, they did it in front of about a thousand onlookers — a collection of business leaders, Sprint employees and interested community members.

“These are exciting companies with solid teams in a space that people are really interested in, coming out of a program like Techstars which is a really big deal,” said Keith Harrington, with the Kansas Bioscience Authority and one of the investors. “They’ve got a lot of great things going for them.”

Sprint Corp. launched the accelerator last fall. It is run by Techstars, of Boulder, Colo., which has a global collection of accelerators under its belt.

Dan Hesse, Sprint’s CEO, kicked off the event by declaring the program a success.

“I’m proud to tell you tonight that we’re going to do this again,” he said. “Recruiting is going to begin soon.”

One by one, CEO followed CEO with only one presenter stumbling for a line. Some chose to announce deals they’ve landed while still in the accelerator program.

Tenacity is an app that gets employees to exercise more, manage their stress better and bond with co-workers, CEO Ron Davis said. His first customer target are call centers that could reduce their employee turnover with healthier and better connected crews.

“We hit a nerve,” he said. “Since we started focusing on call centers, really about three weeks ago, five major companies signed up for paid pilots, including Sprint and four outsourcers.”

Symptom.ly started a pilot program with Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City for its asthma tracker, CEO Derek Bereit said. And, he announced, the Salt Lake City company is hiring software architects and moving its development operations to Kansas City.

Applications for the program had opened last September and the winning picks learned Jan. 31 that it was time to start packing for the Kansas City Crossroads Arts District site.

We got three of them – Sickweather, Fitbark and Medicast – to share their elevator speeches back in March.

Their founders shared more details with readers a few days later.

These 10 business teams have spent the last three months at the accelerator working with mentors, getting legal and financial support and sharing ideas with each other.

The companies hail from as far away as Australia — Ollo Mobile is working on a wearable smartphone that monitors well being — and across the United States. All have an element of health and mobility to them, which is one unique feature of the Sprint accelerator.

Sprint opened up its testing labs and research facilities at its Overland Park headquarters. Sprint and Techstars also opened their wallets, up to $120,000 for each company, and gained ownership stakes.

To reach Mark Davis, call 816-234-4372 or send email to mdavis@kcstar.com.

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