Tag Archives: Dingman Center Angels

Dingman Center Angels: Year in Review

The Dingman Center Angels connects regional start-up companies seeking seed and early-stage funding with angel investors. During the year (September 2011 – June 2012), our team received 116 applications, screened 60 companies and invited 40 to present at monthly breakfasts. 13 companies received angel investments totaling over $4M.

Funded Companies:

  • 6th Street Commerce is an automated E-commerce platform that helps retailers simplify their critical business processes.
  • CirrusWorks develops a networking platform, which makes it easier and cheaper to manage infrastructure technology applications in non-corporate commercial buildings.
  • eco-armour™ manufactures and markets natural, healing skin care products based on its patented botanical shaving solutions for men & women.   
  • LearnZillion is a learning platform that combines video lessons, assessments, and progress reporting.
  • Lemur Technologies is a software company that brings together experts in retail, programming, and social media marketing to develop innovative solutions for common retail problems by leveraging smart phone technology and social networking.
  • Seva Call is the next-generation request aggregator and filtering search engine.
  • Social Tables has created the world’s first social seating chart through its event planning and community-building platform.
  • Social Toaster is a social marketing platform that engages supporters to promote content directly to social networks while driving website traffic and providing comprehensive reporting on the effectiveness of efforts.
  • Spinnakr increases click-throughs and conversions by automatically displaying the right message to the right visitor.
  • Spotflux has developed several unique technologies that bypass censoring technologies, protect privacy, and allow users all over the world to browse an open and free internet.
  • SpydrSafe’s mobile security platform provides IT departments with the necessary tools to safeguard corporate data
  • Target Entertainment Properties (TEP) is a Maryland based company dedicated to developing a suite of celebrity branded games across multiple platforms.
  • Veenome is a video enabling platform, translating video content into data for superior publishing, searching and monetization.
If you are interested in joining as an investor or an entrepreneur looking to present read more about the Dingman Center Angels online.

Additional Presenting Companies:

  • 24K National is the first licensing company to empower entrepreneurs to build unique gold brokering enterprises.
  • Airside Mobile is a mobile transaction platform enabling airport service and passengers to conduct mobile transactions for goods and services, cutting down lines, saving times for passengers and creating additional revenue opportunities.
  • ARCSys provides a web based on-line SaaS module that addresses the new regulatory requirements and disclosures mandated by GAAP and FASB.
  • Apeliotus is commercializing a novel diagnostic for early detection of macular degeneration, an age-related eye disease causing blindness in 1 in 6 people over the age of 65 worldwide.
  • Bookstore Genie is a platform that offers college students the lowest textbook rental prices in the nation.
  • Brain Sentry has created a helmet-mounted sensor that detects impacts that could cause a concussion- helping prevent further injury.
  • Contactually acts as a personal assistant for your inbox by collecting rich data on your email relationships, allowing you to effortlessly take immediate action.
  • Euveda Biosciences’ cell miniaturization technology enables efficient drug screening on the most relevant primary cells, resulting in less expensive and more reliable clinical trials.
  • flexReceipts aggregate consumer’s cash and credit card purchases into a centralized cloud based platform and provides retailers holistic analytics on spending habits.
  • Gryphn simplifies mobile privacy by providing enterprises with one-touch security and encryption for their mobile messages while not requiring any hardware.
  • Kidspotter is a wristwatch that provides a location tracking device for kids in theme parks.
  • Local Food Systems connects aggregated suppliers (Foodhubs) to high-volume wholesale buyers (like Sysco).
  • LocalUp Solutions powers hyper-locally branded restaurant discovery and online ordering guides for hyper-local cities/communities across North America.
  • Mashed Pixel has developed a protective case for smart phones that enables it to function as a universal learning remote, pushing real time ads based on user’s viewing habits.
  • mxHero brings file sharing to email by transparently enabling users of any email system to send and receive files of any size.
  • Parking Panda is a community marketplace that enables parking space owners to capitalize on their underutilized parking spaces by renting them out to a community of drivers.
  • Ringio helps businesses become more customer-centric by providing cloud-based solutions for small and medium-sized enterprises.
  • Seguro Surgical aims to improve patient outcomes of abdominal surgery while increasing efficiency and reducing costs.
  • Seventy Degrees provides a revolutionary full-size QWERTY keyboard with full-size keys, yet small enough to be built into mobile devices.
  • Smart Composite is focused on developing technologies including a driveway snow-melting paint, paint on strain gauges for structural health monitoring, electromagnetic shielding paints, and a novel method of silent propulsion for marine vessels requiring no moving parts.
  • ti•ki is focused on family events offering end-to-end work-flow, planning, and purchasing assistance.
  • Tista Games is the HBO of games providing a platform for regularly scheduled episodic games that keeps players engaged with monetization for years, as opposed to weeks.
  • True Influence is a self-service ad platform for B2B marketers such as Symantec, IBM, and Xerox that are looking for targeted marketing leads.
  • Uppidy is a mobile app that lets users securely archive and organize text messages.
  • Urgnt.ly connects people who have urgent or time-sensitive needs with the nearest party to meet it.
  • Villagize is a social network and social discovery tool where all U.S. consumers can meet and socialize with their real-world neighbors
  • Votifi is a mobile oriented polling & analytics company built on a political network that uses polls & content to connect & empower voters.
  • Well Care Strategies developed a key product called TPS™ EMR, a specialty electronic medical record targeted to the wound care clinical segment that serves 7M+ US patients/year.
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Startup Success: 6th Street Commerce

The Startup Success series features interviews with regional entrepreneurs who received funding from the Dingman Center Angels investor network. To date in 2012, members have invested in 5 companies.  In 2011, member  invested in eight regional companies, making it the network’s most active year since its founding in 2004.. Click HERE to see the rest of the Dingman Center Angels portfolio companies.

6th Street Commerce focuses on simplifying and streamlining the critical business processes associated with managing a successful E-commerce business. Using their E-commerce software platform – SalesWarp™, 6th Street Commerce has been able to save their clients from $600K to over $3.5M by automating all the critical business and marketing processes needed to run an E-commerce business, including order processing, shipping, customer management, product publishing and SEO.

6th Street Commerce received funding through the Dingman Center Angels in 2012. This interview in our “Startup Success” series features CEO & Founder, Dave Potts and VP of Marketing David Anderson.

How did you get the idea for your business?
David Potts: 6th Street Commerce came out of a retail experience that I had with my family. I was living through the pains that retailers had with taking their businesses online while helping family and friends with their own online businesses. That became the foundation of the company and the source of our technology platform which we have branded SalesWarp.

What phase is the company in?
David Potts: We developed the product for two years and then brought it to market last year, generating a small profit our first year. We’re now in rapid expansion. The first year was the initial product line and roll-out. Now in year two, we’re going into a broader market.

Phase 1 involved direct sales to retailers; Phase 2 is targeted at resellers (Web Design Firms, Creative Agencies, E-commerce service providers) where we let our clients sell and customize the product. These first two phases have been aimed at larger retailers and resellers, while Phase 3 will bring SalesWarp to smaller mom-and-pop style retailers through a cloud-based product.

As a startup, what are some of the greatest challenges you face?
David Anderson: We’ve run into problems with resources, which is why we turned to the Dingman Center Angels. We had an overflow of client engagements. Another challenge has been awareness marketing. We’ve been focusing on getting market awareness through trade shows and conferences, and teaming up with partners in order to get the word out to retailers.

What is your best networking tool?
David Anderson: We use Twitter and LinkedIn quite a bit, and have been getting into Facebook more as well. Overall, Twitter has been the most effective so far and LinkedIn has always given us a good advantage in helping us target specific clients. But beyond those social media tools, our partner network has been the most important.

What piece of advice/information have you received that has added the most value to your business?
David Anderson: The best piece of advice I can offer is this: connect yourself to people who are smarter than you. Don’t rely on yourself for everything. You need a good team and good advisors.

David Potts: Bringing in seasoned advisors has been immensely helpful in terms of overcoming fundraising and other startup challenges. If you can find those folks out there in your industry, then tap into that brain trust as much as you can.

What was the Dingman Center Angels review process like?
David Potts:  It’s been one of the more aggressive and productive groups that we’ve met with locally. I’ve spent most of my career in Texas and California in the smartphone industry and I am used to working with a mature investor group. We didn’t run into a similar group locally until we met the Dingman Center Angels. It’s refreshing and the review process was very constructive. We had our funding two weeks after we presented, so it went well overall and they continue to provide assistance.

Have you had to pivot with your current business plan?
David Potts: One of the things with any new business is that you’re constantly testing what resonates with clients. We pivot frequently in the early stages to meet our clients’ needs. We’ll roll out a pitch in front of our target customers, listen to what they have to say, and then switch things up. As a startup, you can’t have qualms about changing product strategy.

David Anderson: The product itself is built off of a real world need. For the past couple of years, we’ve had the benefit of working on this before bringing it out to the rest of the market. It was proven when it started, and not all entrepreneurs have that luxury. Our pivots aren’t as much on the product functions, but more on marketing based on our customer needs and response to our messaging.

What do you think about the current state of the entrepreneurial community in Washington DC and Baltimore?
David Potts: Obviously, the DC market is the most mature in this area. But I’ve seen Baltimore start to evolve as well. We see an emerging entrepreneurial community, with folks that are more credible. That gives us hope that new companies will have an easier path forward.

6th Street Commerce is founded on the same software (SalesWarp™) that David Potts used to grow his own family’s online business. He originally developed the system in 2006 as they found no available solution that could handle the needs of their business growth at a reasonable cost. Being an entrepreneur at heart, David has always enjoyed working in new and emerging markets.

Avid triathlete and Vice President of Marketing, David Anderson brings a unique background in creative, branding and marketing that encompasses over 20 years. David founded and managed a small 5-person design boutique in Connecticut for almost 10 years before moving to Maryland in 2006 to offer Brand Consulting services to the agency and business community.

Connect with 6th Street Commerce on the Web, on Twitter, and on LinkedIn.

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Startup Success: Seva Call

Startup Success, a new feature of the Dingman Center Blog, will feature interviews with regional entrepreneurs who received funding from the Dingman Center Angels investor network.  In 2011, members invested in eight regional companies, making it the network’s most active year since its founding in 2004. Investments included Brazen Careerist, CirrusWorks, Nexercise, SevaCall, Spinnakr, Spotflux, Veenome, and YouEye. Click HERE to see the rest of the Dingman Center Angels portfolio companies.

Seva Call is the next-generation request aggregator and filtering search engine. It goes beyond traditional search engines by eliminating the inefficiency caused by the “guess and check” method of matching consumers to service providers.

Seva Call received funding through the Dingman Center Angels in 2011.  This interview in our “Startup Success” series features Seva Call President & COO and UMD alum Manpreet Singh.

As a startup, what are some of the greatest challenges you face?
The sheer volume and breadth of tasks can feel very overwhelming. You have to be a jack of all trades.

How did you get the idea for your business?
Seva Call comes from my brother Gurpreet’s experiences advertising his IT consulting  firm, Geeks On-Site. He spent almost $1 million in advertising over the last 7 years but was bogged down by upfront fees, many contracts, and the inability to track the return on investment each on advertising form. We want to build an efficient marketplace for businesses and consumers that gives flexible pricing options to businesses so that they can choose how much to spend and the ability to measure ROI. For the consumer we wanted to allow them to find a local service professional quickly without spending countless hours researching and playing phone tag with companies.

What is your best networking tool?
I use Facebook and Linkedin extensively.

What advice would you give student entrepreneurs who want to start their own business?
Just do it!

What piece of advice/information have you received that has added the most value to your business?
As a consumer to business local search service, we took to heart the advice that stressed quality. Consumers care about the quality of the professionals that we find, and we had to develop a system of finding the best quality professionals.

What was the Dingman Center Angels review process like?
The review process had simple and well-defined steps. We received great advice from the mentors that we were able to use to do a successful pitch.

Have you had to pivot with your current business plan?
Yes. One challenge we encountered was signing up companies for our service. Our solution was to use a lazy login system to decrease friction and make it easier for companies to interact with our consumers.

Manpreet spent many years as technology investor, at a Washington DC based investment management firm with over $2 billion in assets.  Manpreet is one of the youngest CFA charterholders in the world. Manpreet has been quoted numerous times by Bloomberg, TheStreet.com and other media for various technology pieces. He is a director of the LK Foundation, a philanthropic organization, and is active in the Sikh Council on Religion and Education and the Sikh Caucus. He is also a charter member of TiE DC, Washington DC area’s top network of Entrepreneurs. Manpreet has an MBA from the Wharton School of Business and holds a B.S. Cum Laude in Finance with a citation in Entrepreneurship from the University of Maryland at College Park.

Connect with Seva Call: 

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Startup Success: Veenome

Startup Success, a new feature of the Dingman Center Blog, includes interviews with regional entrepreneurs who received funding from the Dingman Center Angels investor network.  In 2011, members invested in eight companies, making it the network’s most active year since its founding in 2004. Investments included Brazen Careerist, CirrusWorks, Nexercise, SevaCall, Spinnakr, Spotflux, Veenome, and YouEye. Click HERE to view all Dingman Center Angels portoflio companies.

Veenome is a video indexing platform — translating the “stuff” in video into machine-readable data for superior organization, publishing, searching and monetization.
Utilizing video recognition technology, Veenome discovers products, objects, and brands in popular online videos. These objects are auto-tagged, indexed and relayed as clickable objects for  display in video. So if you like the shoes in the Lady GaGa video, just click on them to buy. The data can also be delivered en masse via API for enterprise search and ad targeting. 

Veenome received funding through the Dingman Center Angels in 2011. This interview features Kevin Lenane, Founder and CEO.

As a startup, what are some of the greatest challenges you face?
One of the biggest challenges is that you’re a really small organization. In a startup there is a never ending list of duties and you have to know how to succeed no matter what it is that you’re doing. You don’t have specialist to do everything and you have to be able to manage the stress that comes with that. You also have to be able to figure out what you’re good at and delegate what you’re not. The hardest thing is trying to manage multiple roles.

What is your #1 source of funding?
It was self funded for the first few months; it is investor funded now. There wasn’t a traditional friends and family round.

How did you get the idea for your business?
I had been working on a lot of mobile apps with image recognition as a form of alternate entry. I found that there’s a lot for room for error there; for example flash could obscure the text. User error rate was high, so I wanted to see if there were ways to get more information, which was to take more photos. I wanted to find a way to do this with video so I did some tests on my own and found a place in the market to start a company because there is a need for this. It is really powerful if you can do it right. I’ve had a lot of ideas like this, but the difference with Veenome is that this was tested a lot. I got a lot of data to prove that it would work and the data helped take me from an idea to a business that could be started. It validated that there was a market and it could be achieved

What is your best networking tool?
If you want to talk to someone, first check to see if you know someone connected to them. You’ll be surprised what your second and third tier network contains. In my case, I’ll take a video related to what that person does and I’ll tag it, put it on our webpage, and send it to them in an email to show them what I can do. The video is made custom to the person I want to connect with. If you can demonstrate that you put in effort before the conversation happens, people will be more willing to talk to you.

What advice would you give student entrepreneurs who want to start their own business?
Working for a startup first is critical. The worst that could happen is you raise money and realize that all you want to do is work for a big company. Startups aren’t for everyone and you won’t know that until you work for a startup. Interning at a startup is less pressure, a lot of fun, and will give you an idea of what it is like to start a business.

Why a startup?
I like the idea of improving progress especially in technology. Technology is one of our leading industries, so being able to contribute in a way that increases the general progress of technology and be a part of the technology movement is important to me. I like the idea of being able to build something that I can work at and use and know that it helped progress the industry.

What was the DCA review process like? Were you able to handle the criticism? Did you find the feedback beneficial?
Elana [Fine] was really helpful early on with our deck. Getting feedback on your deck alone is beneficial. I had some really helpful questions and concerns from the students and the Angels-in-Residence. One of the angels was asking very hard ball questions but later ended up investing. I took the feedback and reworked my deck quite a bit, then went back a few weeks later and did the formal pitch to the angels. It was a great way of consolidating some active DC angels. A big problem is finding angels that are really investing and Dingman is a great place to look. They’ve done a great job of getting into really good startups in DC.

Kevin Lenane is co-founder and CEO of Veenome. He is an experienced project manager with a keen sense of how location, platform, and portability play in to the mobile experience for businesses and consumers. Kevin has worked with clients at PointAbout including OnStar, the Huffington Post, FEMA, and the ESRB. Prior to PointAbout, Kevin was part of the product management team behind the location management platform NAVTEQ Locations, which gives businesses total control over their location presence.

Connect with Veenome

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Elana Fine, Associate Director, on ABC’s Washington Business Report

Associate Director, Elana Fine was interviewed by Rebecca Cooper of  ABC’s Washington Business Report about the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship. The segment includes an overview of our key programs: Pitch Dingman, Dingman Center Angels, and Cupid’s Cup. The segment originally aired on ABC 7 on Sunday, February 5. Watch the video below and leave your comments!

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