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Tech & Toast: Cryptocurrency Trends for 2018 – April 19

Join us on April 19th for breakfast and a talk on Cryptocurrency presented by Stan Larimer! Enjoy networking and a meal while learning more about trends in Cryptocurrency for 2018.

On Christmas Eve 2017, Stan Larimer appeared on Coast to Coast AM live for four hours talking about the major trends in cryptocurrencies for the coming year.  Here are a few of them he will talk about at Tech & Toast:

  • TREND 1: The Flight to Safety from Dollar Abuse
  • TREND 2: The Flight to Safety from Crypto Abuse
  • TREND 3: The Dark Side of Trading Freedom for Safety
  • TREND 4: The Great Bitcoin Train Wreck of 2018
  • TREND 5:  Real Time Institutional Grade Blockchains
  • TREND 6:  Easy Adoption and Good Customer Support
  • TREND 7:  Regulation is Dead, Long Live Regulation!

Date: Thursday, April 19, 2018

Time: 7:15- 9:00am

Location: The Inn at Virginia Tech – Latham Ballroom | 901 Prices Fork Road, Blacksburg, VA 24060

Fee: $25.00 Member before 4/14/2018 | $35.00 between 4/15 – 4/18

$50.00 Future Member before 4/14/2018 | $60.00 between 4/15 – 4/18

$10.00 Student

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RAMP Wrap Party – January 4

You are invited to join us as we celebrate the conclusion of our first cohort with a RAMP Wrap Party! Drop by to congratulate the cohort and stick around to network with the companies. Help us wrap up our time with the first RAMP cohort in the New Year!

Date: Thursday, January 4, 2018

Time: 5:30pm – 7:30pm

Location: Gill Memorial Building | 709 S. Jefferson St in Downtown Roanoke

Additional Info: Free street parking is available after 5pm on Jefferson Street, Day Avenue, Bullitt Avenue, and First Street. Paid parking is also available in any of the various lots on Jefferson.

Please RSVP by Tuesday, January 2

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RAMP Helps Promising Startups Focus on the Business Side of Doing Business

RAMP held its first “Demo Day” at Virginia Western Community College last week, with each business given a few minutes to share what it’s been doing. The event drew about 120 people from the business community, a mix of professionals involved with RAMP, economic development officials and potential investors from around the state.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do that presentation three months ago,” Briganti said afterward, crediting RAMP with helping him hone his business skills and ability to pitch.

“We learned how to stop being just scientists,” he said. “RAMP made us stronger as a business.”

RAMP is unlike other startup programs in the region. It’s a business accelerator designed to provide startups with resources to help them grow and stay in the region. It’s different from incubators, which work with startups in earlier development stages, and co-working spaces, which provide easy-to-access space for startups. RAMP looked for businesses that already had an established plan and were on the cusp of something bigger. The six companies selected for the first cohort were a mixed bag of entrepreneurs. Briganti was the youngest company president to participate. Other participants had been running their business for years. Each had different goals and different needs.

Read the full article at The Roanoke Times website >

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Ask the Cohort: DESA

DESA is a health care analytics and Telehealth company led by Jonathan Briganti, Dr. Anne Brown, Brian Elliott and David Trinkle, MD. They are developing a way for assessments, that are normally done inside a doctor’s office, to be done remotely on a digital medium in order to add data and communication for doctors and physicians to better support the diagnosis of health issues such as dementia, depression, anxiety, etc.


What is the biggest challenge your company has had to face so far? How did you overcome it?

Jonathan Briganti: Our biggest challenge would be that we are not business-centered people. We all came from the science world where we know how to get grants for academic trials that run for several years on end but do not move very fast. When we transitioned to the business world we had to figure out how to adjust to the fast pace style. We had to learn about Patent Protection, forming LLC’s, getting office space, and forming connections. It is an entirely different side of life that we never really considered entering until we had this idea. Once we entered the business world, we had to move very quickly and the RAMP program has been very helpful with moving us in the right direction.

What are you hoping to get out of RAMP?

Dr. Anne Brown: We are hoping to get a more robust business plan and conceptual model for actually selling our product to multiple venues like, larger hospital systems, nursing home systems, school systems, etc. In order to do that we are hoping to get more guidance in what kind of models we need to set up for each of those.

Jonathan Briganti: I think connections are a very big thing as well. We have been very fortunate to have Victor Ianello as a mentor and to have been introduced to some very influential people in the area. It is great having those people that can open doors and help us get our name out there further than we thought was possible.

What do you like about the Roanoke area? Why do you want to be here and grow your company here?

Dr. Anne Brown: I grew up in Roanoke, went to Roanoke College for my undergrad, and attended Virginia Tech for graduate school. I think the area has a lot of potential for growth and many aspects that make the quality of life high. I think it is a great place for us, especially with the ability to tap into undergraduates at Virginia Tech as we grow and need more individuals in the engineering STEM fields. I think there is a great talent pool at Virginia Tech. From what I understand, students also enjoy the area due to the accessibility of nature in a metropolitan setting that still provides an affordability of living.  There is also a lot of movement and growth in the health care field through the Virginia Tech Carilion partnership.

Jonathan Briganti: I have really seen a big push from business owners, especially the ones involved in RAMP, for start ups to grow and succeed. We have had nothing but positive connections in Roanoke. Everyone wants to help us and see us succeed. Everyone we have connected with in Roanoke has been very thoughtful and helpful.

What advice would you give to those interested in starting a business?

Jonathan Briganti: If you have an idea, go for it. When this idea began, I was an undergraduate at Virginia Tech and never thought I would have my own office a year later. We never thought the idea we had for a hackathon last April would last more than that weekend. We all joke that this has been the longest weekend of our lives. If you see a need in the world there is no reason you cannot be the one to solve that issue. Never decide not to pursue a particular field because you think you do not know enough about it, because you can learn.

Has your company done something exciting recently?  

Dr. Anne Brown: We are still exploring all the many channels and usability of this kind of app platform. Pretty much on almost a daily or weekly basis we learn about a different area that is interested or think they could use this kind of product in a certain way. Finding those things out though various market surveys is very interesting and exciting.

Jonathan Briganti: We just finished a beta version of the app so we are able to get focus testers out. The app is not connected with medical records at all, but for the first time we are having people use our app. It is exciting to have it in the hands of individuals out there and get their feedback.

So you’re working with a mentor, tell me about that experience.

Dr. Anne Brown: It is a wonderful experience. We need mentorship and we are fully open to that kind of guidance. I think it would be silly for us to not take the advice of someone who has been there before and has learned from experience, especially when it can help us get over different bumps along the road.

Jonathan Briganti: Coming into this we knew that there are a million things we should do in order for our business to succeed. It has been helpful to talk to someone who is so connected in the community and have them tell us that there are a million things that we can do, but these three things are the most important things to do right now. It has really allowed us to focus down and make a stronger business.

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Ask the Cohort: Altede

 

Altede is a startup company led by Ed Champion, Dr. Anna Champion, and Briana Petruzzi. They are currently in the process of developing their product, which will be a kit to test for gluten and other allergens in food.


Tell me a little about your team.

Ed Champion: I am the president and I have an MBA and marketing background. I have experience writing many complex proposals, mostly to defense firms. I handle the checkbook, the business affairs and take the lead in writing proposals. Anna is my daughter and she has a Ph.D. in biomedical science. She’s the scientific brains behind the outfit and does the creative thinking and how to solve the technical problems. Briana Petruzzi is an associate of Anna’s. She is a Ph.D. candidate at the lab where Anna works at Virginia Tech. She is in the process of writing her dissertation. She is our product manager, so she is more concerned about the physical configuration of what the kit will actually look like, and she helps me with manufacturing. She also does a lot of the lab work with Anna.

What motivated and inspired you to start your company?

Ed Champion: In December of 2014 Anna and I were sitting in a Chinese restaurant waiting for our order to arrive when Anna looked at me and she said something like, “wow, I wish I knew for sure that the egg drop soup had no gluten in it.”. Then she smiled and told me she and Briana thought they knew how to create a product that could test for gluten in food. Being an MBA I’ve always dreamed of beginning a start up, and immediately saw potential to create a business. Due to the experience of trying to modify our kitchen to be gluten-free after Anna developed celiac disease at the age of twelve, I could see that developing a test for gluten in foods would be a big service. If we could figure out a way to do create a product that is easy, fast, and affordable then we could provide that service to people with serious gluten problems.

What does success look like to you?

Ed Champion: It turns out that because of federal budget cuts there is less biological research going on than there was when Anna started her Ph.D. She does not have a job that is worthy of all the work she put into getting her Ph.D. and Briana can see that being a factor in her future as well. Success for me would be that I am able to retire in a couple years, get enough money to buy my dream sailboat, and that Anna and Briana would have a job worthy of their education. Gluten is one of eight major food allergies recognized by the U.S. government, and if we are successful then they could use the same techniques that we used to develop tests for other food allergies. There is potential for this business to continue to grow and be really prosperous. Success for me would also include that we are able to demonstrate this product and produce a company that provides jobs here in this area. We are from Blacksburg, but we really like this area and we want to contribute to its success.

What are you working on now/next?

Ed Champion: Anna and Briana are finalizing the chemistry and configuration of the product and I’m assisting with the mechanical side. We are also performing customer discovery by going out and talking to other people with celiac disease to see how their experiences differ. We are trying to uncover different segments of the market and verify all of our assumptions. I have been meeting with dietitians, people who have celiac disease, people with gluten intolerance, and people who eliminate gluten because they believe it makes them feel better. We are trying to find out how they live and how gluten affects their lives, where our tests fit in, how much they are willing to pay for our product, and whether they will buy it via the Internet. Most people want to remain informed about the business after I talk with them. So, I have begun to accumulate a list of emails and plan to  publish a monthly newsletter about our progress.

What advice would you give to those interested in starting a business?

Ed Champion: I went to the Naval Academy and Robert Heinlein, a famous science fiction novelist, came to speak to the midshipmen. One of the two things I remember about his speech is that the most important thing about writing, is to get started and do it. I would say that starting a business is the same way. It is one thing to think about it, but you have to actually start to do it in order to make it happen. At the same time, I would say once you start analyzing and thinking about it you have to be willing to say, “no, this is not a good idea after all,” but if you don’t start and start seriously putting it together you won’t get there.

So you’re working with a mentor, tell me about that experience.

Ed Champion: We happened to know our mentor before being brought in to RAMP. She is the wife of a local entrepreneur and is taking over her retired husband’s business. We met previously at a poster board session and she invited us to tour her plant in Christiansburg. She brings a totally different perspective to the team and helps us all work together.

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IdeaFest: Danville Business Pitch Competition – March 31

IdeaFest is a fun, fast-paced Business Pitch Competition with $10,000 in prize money.

Twenty entrepreneurs will take the stage to pitch an original business idea to a panel of business experts and an audience of other entrepreneurs, small business owners, potential investors, students, and business and community leaders. You have 2 minutes to pitch your idea followed by 3 minutes of Q&A with a panel of expert judges.

Prizes
The top three competitors, as selected by the judges, will be awarded $5,000 for first place, $3,000 for second place, and $1,500 for third place. The live audience will vote to select the winner of the $500 Audience Choice Award. All competitors will gain access to free business consulting and prototype development through The Launch Place.

Judges
The competition is judged by a panel of business development and startup experts representing startup communities throughout Virginia and North Carolina.

Competition Guidelines:
Entry and Registration
Space is limited to 20 pitches, which will be selected from the pool of registrants by the IdeaFest Organizing Committee. Late applications will not be considered. Applicants will be notified two weeks prior to the competition if you are selected to pitch.

Anyone who has an entrepreneurial idea for a startup company who would like to pitch to a panel of judges for the purposes of receiving feedback, potential prize money, and/or possible seed funding may register.

  • Submissions may be entered as individuals or teams.
  • The maximum number of team members for a single pitch is limited to 5 persons.
  • Each individual or team pitching may enter one idea or concept.
  • Pitch competitors may participate on multiple teams.
  • Only the pitching individual or the pitching members of a team may pitch to the panel of judges or answer questions from the judges and/or audience.
  • You will be notified ahead of time if you are or not selected to pitch.

If you are not selected to pitch, you are still encouraged to attend IdeaFest. You’ll still have the opportunity to network with like-minded entrepreneurs and learn about the business development resources available in the Danville region.

Eligibility
Ideas and concepts pitched must be in the initial stages of development. Individuals or teams must disclose any funding already received at the time of registration. There is an allowance for an idea or concept to be already funded before this competition by personal or family funds, small amounts of seed capital from outside investors, or modest amounts of funding stemming from institutional or research grants. In no case may an idea of concept be funded from any source more than $25,000.

The pitched idea or concept must be the original work of the individual or team pitching it.

Ideas and concepts deemed by the IdeaFest Organizing Committee to be fake, insincere, offensive, immoral, or unethical may be screened and disqualified.

The IdeaFest Organizing Committee has the sole discretion to disqualify and/or remove any individual or teams for any reason that it deems appropriate before and/or during the pitch competition for violation of these rules. All decisions regarding an individual’s or team’s removal and/or disqualification from the pitch competition are final.

Read More >>>

 

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RAMP Business Accelerator Anchor Tenant Opportunity Available

The RAMP business accelerator is offering an exclusive ground-?oor opportunity to any established, stable company looking for space within a vibrant, entrepreneurial atmosphere.
More than just of?ce space, the Gill Memorial Building will be the home of RAMP: The Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Accelerator, which will offer mentoring opportunities, connections to investor funding, networking and education. The goal of RAMP is to accelerate the success of high potential companies, and keep them in the Roanoke-Blacksburg Region.

Benefits and features:

  • 1904 Usable and 2377 Rentable Square Feet.
  • Outstanding and visible downtown location.
  • First ?oor convenience.
  • First ?oor of?ces can be secured from common areas.
  • Monthly and hourly parking is available in the lot at Jefferson and Elm and other nearby lots.
  • Open ?oor plan – can be adapted to tenant’s needs.
  • Networking Opportunities with Successful Technology Entrepreneurs.
  • Education, Networking and Funding contacts.
  • Access to high-speed low latency Broadband network (up to 100 Gbps available).
  • Be a part of the region’s growing Entrepreneurial Ecosystem.
  • Access to programming of RBTC (Roanoke Blacksburg Technology Council) and VWCC’s Workforce Solutions Division.

Interested in learning more? Download the flyer here and see property details and pricing: here.

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RAMP Business Accelerator Launches Crowdfunding Drive to Support Region’s Startups

The RAMP business accelerator has launched a crowdfunding drive to support its goal of growing high-potential startups in the Roanoke-Blacksburg region. The campaign, launched Oct. 28 through the Tilt platform, aims to raise $25,000 to help outfit team rooms occupied by the startups accepted in the RAMP program.

This is the first fundraising drive by RAMP, which will be located in the renovated Gill Memorial Building at 709 S. Jefferson St. in downtown Roanoke. Renovations are currently under way, with the building expected to open in early 2017. The first class of RAMP startup companies is expected to start in mid-2017.

RAMP, which stands for Regional Acceleration and Mentoring Program, is led by a volunteer advisory board whose members are drawn from the founding partners:

  • The City of Roanoke, which won a $600,000 state grant approved by Gov. Terry McAuliffe to renovate the Gill building as an accelerator;
  • Virginia Western Community College, which will provide business education classes and faculty support;
  • The Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council, which will hire RAMP’s executive director and develop the accelerator’s mentorship and networking initiatives.

RAMP’s programming will be based on best practices garnered from existing successful business accelerators. It will initially focus on accelerating three to five technology- or life science-focused companies in the fields of science, technology, engineering, math and healthcare each per year. Entrepreneurs accepted into RAMP will work closely with multiple mentors during an intensive three- to four-month “boot camp for founders” designed to focus on building, testing, improving, validating product-market fit, and launching their product for the market.

To donate to the RAMP Tilt campaign, go to: RAMPTilt.com

To learn more about RAMP, go to: RAMPrb.tech

Download the press release.

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Cox Business Taps Local Entrepreneurs for ‘Get Started Roanoke’ Pitch Competition

Cox Business is seeking local entrepreneurs, startups and small business owners interested in pitching their business plan or idea for a chance to walk away with more than $14,000 in cash and technology prizes at Get Started Roanoke.

As part of the ongoing Get Started business series, local entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to pitch their business idea to a panel of judges consisting of successful entrepreneurs and distinguished experts. Judges will include Maria Aspan of Inc. magazine and local influencers Ed Walker, Tamea Franco, and Jonathan Hagmaier. All contestants and event attendees will receive valuable advice from the judges at the conclusion of each pitch.

Get Started offers entrepreneurs the opportunity for face-to-face interaction with potential investors while entering them into the alumni network of former Get Started competitors and winners. Pitches take place in front of a live audience, providing entrepreneurs additional exposure for their business idea. The Roanoke event will be held at The Taubman Museum of Art on Tuesday, October 4, 2016 from 5:30pm – 8:30pm. Admission is free, but registration is required to attend.

Local entrepreneurs interested in competing can enter at http://www.coxblue.com/getstartedstarcity/ where they must provide a 250-word description of the idea or business plan to be pitched. Applications will close at 11:59pm on September 19, 2016.  Entrants will be notified by close of business on September 21, 2016 if they have been selected as a finalist. The five finalists will receive two coaching sessions in advance of the competition to prepare.

Those interested in attending should register at http://www.coxblue.com/getstartedstarcity/ to secure their free admission to Get Started Roanoke.

Since 2013, Cox Business has hosted 24 Get Started pitch competitions across the country and awarded more than $250,000 in cash and prizes to local entrepreneurs.

Cox Business
is bringing Get Started to Roanoke (#GetStartedStarCity) , in partnership with Inc. Magazine.

WHEN: Tuesday, October 4th, 2016 from 5:30pm – 8:30pm
WHERE: The Taubman Museum of Art, 110 Salem Ave SE, Roanoke, VA 24011
ADMISSION: This event is FREE and open to the public but you must register to attend.

Reception and Networking
Complimentary cocktails & hors d’oeuvres at one of the best networking events you’ll attend this year! (served before and after the competition)

Registration is now open – Limited Seating – Reserve Your Seat Now

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Virginia Velocity Tour: Discovering Virginia’s Top Startups

In the past two decades, accelerated innovation, demographic shifts, and globalization have transformed our nation’s economy and redefined opportunity in the American workplace. Virginia has the opportunity to stay in front of these trends by supporting entrepreneurs that will drive innovation and produce jobs in energy, health, agriculture, and other sectors that will thrive in the 21st century.

This September, the Virginia Velocity Tour will travel the Commonwealth to shine a spotlight on the entrepreneurs building Virginia’s 21st century economy. It’s a jam-packed week of tours, talks, and pitch competitions with over $100,000 in prizes. Help recruit, celebrate, and support Virginia’s top startups!

The tour is planned in partnership with Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe; the Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade; Virginia Velocity; Village Capital; and local partners across the Commonwealth.

Start-ups:  Application deadline is August 18!

Applications are now open to early-stage entrepreneurs from across the Commonwealth (see minimum eligibility requirements below). A total of 30-40 selected finalists will be selected to participate in one day of the Virginia Velocity Tour – not necessarily in the region where they are based.

From September 19-23, the Virginia Velocity Tour bus will travel to five regions across the Commonwealth and celebrate an industry that the region is proud of:

  • 9/19: Roanoke/Blacksburg – STEM/Energy
  • 9/20: Richmond – Products/E-Commerce
  • 9/21: Hampton Roads – Biotechnology/Health
  • 9/22: Northern Virginia – Cybersecurity/GovTech
  • 9/23: Charlottesville – Agriculture/Food

At each stop, we will invite 5-8 finalists from across the Commonwealth to participate in the day’s events, based on the industry they work in. Over the course of each day, the finalists will engage with local businesses; network with the region’s civic and business leaders; and participate in a public pitch competition, where one finalist will win a $25,000 equity-free grant prize.

Note that your startup does not need to be based in a particular region to participate in that region’s events.

Learn More at: VirginiaVelocityTour.org

 

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