Mira Founders 2014

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Update: Mira didn't take home top honors at Google Demo Day in Silicon Valley, but the startup does have a shot at investment from Steve Case. The celebrity investor issued a "Rise of the Rest" Challenge to all 11 companies. He'll invest $100,000 in any company that raise $1 million in the next 100 days.

Though 500 Startups' Bedy Yang says, "There were many winners", Player's Health of Minneapolis took home the Judge's Choice and Knowledgehook of Waterloo, the Game Changer award. 

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According to Jon Frangakis, today is the biggest five minutes in the short history of his startup Mira.

On a stage before dozens of Silicon Valley investors and Google executives at the third Google for Entrepreneurs Demo Day, he'll pitch the advertising technology company he's spent the last two years slaving over with his younger brother Gabe (pictured right). 

Representing American Underground, he's in competition with 10 other startups from Google Tech Hubs around the world.

The buzz surrounding Demo Day is already paying off. Frangakis told me in an email that he'd already received a term sheet from one investor before he even took the stage. He plans to raise $2.5 million more in the days and weeks to follow today's pitch.

Demo Day has been fruitful for this region. Durham companies have taken the grand prize each of the last two years, along with $100,000 from celebrity investor Steve CaseWindsor Circle went on to raise $5.5 million from Comcast Ventures and MATI Energy closed a round of more than $1 million to help it open a manufacturing facility and exponentially increase production of its healthy energy drink. 

Since participating in The Startup Factory accelerator in the fall of 2014, Frangakis has split his time between Durham and New York. The business has shifted a bit too. Mira's software collects data about people from their mobile devices while they're in a location or at an event and then provides insights to businesses about the audience so they can customize advertising messages in real-time on digital signage. It was originally targeted to Taxi TV in New York City yellow cabs. Now it's used in retail environments.

Credit: Ryan Timms
Frangakis details the new strategy, along with other accomplishments, goals and his pitch prep, in the Q&A below. 

Watch Google Demo Day live today from 1-3 p.m. here and vote for Mira to win Google's Game Changer award by visiting slido.com and using event code #GoogleDemoDay.

1. Explain what you’ve accomplished since completing the TSF accelerator in 2014. What has been the biggest win since then? What has changed? 
We raised about $1M last year to prove this concept out and start to find product/market fit which we've made significant strides on. We've certainly refined our approach to something we call "Crowd Analytics" and focused our business development efforts to the retail category, which is made up of malls. 
 
Main tangible accomplishments have been the completion of several successful pilots with Westfield malls which led to a commercial agreement recently. We're zeroing in on some other big clients that will be great to announce in the coming months. 
 
2. Compared to other companies in your industry, what is the key differentiator? 
We're looking at real time audience measurement which no one else has really wrapped their products around. Mostly because figuring out what would appeal most to a crowd of people is an abstract concept. We've created a process that turns crowds into segmented audiences and has shown a 63% increase in the efficiency of targeted slots over a control. 
 
3. What are your big goals for Demo Day? 
The big goal for us is to kick off a $2.5M priced round and bring in some West Coast money this time around. We actually got a term sheet stemming from the buzz Google for Entrepreneurs generated before we even landed at SFO. I'm really pumped to see what we can pull off by the end of the event 
 
4. How have you prepared for the day? Who helped you practice? Any big tips people have provided that you put in place? 
The pitch has changed significantly since we first started prepping. I've been doing most of that prep with my co-founder (and brother). I really think it's in a good place right now. Matt Williamson from Windsor Circle gave me some great advice on how to stand out, which is going to be huge with the quality of the companies here. Some have raised a lot more capital than us and are much further along. I still believe that we're in a good position to bring the trophy back to NC for the third straight year. 

5. What do you hope to do with your next round of funding? What will it allow you to accomplish? 
We've found product market fit so this round is all about scaling for us. The first $1M was all tech talent (Mira has four employees today) and this round will be mostly business development help. 

6. What does this opportunity mean for you? For Mira? 
Today is the biggest five minutes in our company's short history. Winning would exponentially increase our chances of success. Listening to Tatiana (of MATI) and Matt talk about what the opportunity was to them, I know this means everything to us and I've been prepping as such. I'm really excited to get up there and make it happen.