An Initiative of the City of Akron

FUELing Growth – A successful first event and three new Bit Factory startups

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To say that our first FUEL Akron event was a success is an understatement. Two weeks later, I’m still awed by the startups, the sharks and the event itself, hosting more than 70 people at The Bit Factory. The competition, (described here by Jessica Sublett is last month’s newsletter) helped us attract strong leads, as well as admitting three new client companies – TPAStream, Skinny Table and Komae.

The competition focused on the company’s product, market and traction, separately. This allowed us to give each the opportunity for funding versus awarding an exclusive winner.

All three companies did a phenomenal job impressing the sharks, and each received an offer for $10,000 investment. Here’s a rundown of each one and why they were selected:

TPAStream

TPAStream is a software platform that helps third-party administrators manage health payment account documentation and substantiation; simply put, TPAStream gives health companies a dashboard to manage paperwork and validation of health accounts. Jacob Sheridan, CEO of TPAStream, impressed the judges with his experience, traction and product-market fit. With strong initial customers and growing revenue, TPAStream is positioned optimally to work with The Bit Factory mentors to scale aggressively. The sharks felt that TPAStream had a proven model, and thus, agreed with the convertible note ask by Jacob.

Skinny Table

Skinny Table is an app and website to help consumers dine responsibly by offering data-lead dining choices and a solid user experience. Skinny Table has good initial traction and users; a minimum viable product (MVP); and a solid team composed of experienced entrepreneurs. The team impressed the sharks with their focus on attacking a niche market and expanding vertically into incumbent market leaders. Dr. Ross Marchetta was selected to pitch because of his passion and prior experience leading startups. Overall, Skinny Table won the investment through their passion, initial market traction and unique market approach.

Komae

Komae, led and co-founded by Audrey Wallace and Amy Husted, is a true sharing economy app, initially focused on creating an exchange by helping parents with babysitting. TBF chose Komae to pitch because of their beta results and traction, dedication, and strong industry feedback. Komae has successfully identified a way to tap into the underserved and underestimated mom market, impressing the audience (and sharks) with their success and market research. Komae received an offer from the sharks that was appropriate with their stage and commensurate with the ecosystem at large.

Next year, we plan to improve FUEL by adding outside sharks, increasing the amount of resources available to ask, and expanding the applicants outside of the Northeast Ohio region. I look forward to 2017 FUEL, and hope more entrepreneurs, startup enthusiasts, and people will join in the event to witness the growing Akron software ecosystem!

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