This story has been updated to reflect more announcements about Google Demo Day, coming to Silicon Valley April 2.
Cherry-flavored Mati Energy
is now on the shelves of Whole Foods Markets across the Southeast, but the energy drink's creator Tatiana Birgisson
is celebrating another win too.
Tuesday, Google announced she'd represent the Triangle and Durham at Google for Entrepreneurs' annual national Demo Day in April, with rights to pitch her fast-growing beverage company to a room full of Silicon Valley investors alongside 11 other companies. She'll join five additional female founders at the event, a move that shows Google's interest in promoting equal opportunity among genders in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Birgisson told me she's "incredibly lucky" and can't wait to share the vision of Mati at Google, as well as its early success. Specifically in startup communities, it sells three times as fast as competitor Red Bull. She won an NC IDEA grant
late last year, and has been mentored for the last nine months through the Google-supported SOAR Network
"I'm confident employees, judges and viewers will become loyal customers," Birgisson says. "I'm also looking forward to being in the Valley and getting to know the other top startups from Google communities."
Durham startup Windsor Circle won the event last year, secured $5.5 million from Comcast Ventures soon after and has been on a hiring spree in downtown Durham ever since. Runner-up Automated Insights, after raising a series B round mid-last year, announced last week it would be sold to a private equity firm. Nationally-known investor Steve Case put $100,000 in every company who presented last April—Google hasn't unveiled any details about the attendees of this year's event.
Analyzing the competition
Who will Birgisson be up against, you might ask? Joining her in the first round of announcements Tuesday was inRentive of Chicago's 1871, with marketing management software for property managers. The female-founded startup graduated from Techstars Chicago last summer.
Montreal's Notman House will compete with Seamless Planet, a San Francisco-based company that helps travel companies update their listings and information on any site in one place. The company graduated from Montreal's FounderFuel accelerator late last year. It's also led by a woman. And today, Google announced selections from outside its Google hub network which won pitch competitions during Steve Case's Rise of the Rest Tour last year: PearDeck of Iowa City, Iowa and SolePowerTech of Pittsburgh, along with another Minneapolis participant, 75 Fahrenheit.
Here's a bit about each of the companies (updated from Tuesday's story):
Loop & Tie is a two-year-old online gift-giving platform, offering items like specialty foods and beverages, leather goods, cookware and home goods and accessories and other knick knacks, at prices that range from $25 to $250. It's targeted to both consumers and corporations looking to reward their employees or customers. It's also co-founded by a woman, and partially funded, according to a story last October in the Austin Business Journal.
Sweet Tooth has software for e-commerce sites to create their own points-based loyalty programs for customers, syncing up with platforms like Shopify, Bigcommerce and Magento. Among its 4,000 clients secured since launch in 2009 are Delta and Asics. It raised $2.2 million in 2012 from top Canadian investment firms.
Google chose the following three companies after hubs in Colorado, Minneapolis and Detroit hosted local pitch competitions:
CoSchedule of Bismarck, North Dakota (where Coco also operates a space) has customers like The Next Web, MyFitnessPal and Discovery Education using its drag-and-drop editorial calendar for managing and scheduling blog posts and the social media associated with them. It raised $500,000 from angel investors last year.
- Google chose it over Minneapolis runner-up Playtabase, an innovator in the Internet of Things space with its Reemo wristband that lets a user control smart devices like lighting, alarm systems and media. The nearly three-year-old company has been featured in nearly every major media source and is self-funded besides $25,000 investment from the Microsoft Ventures home-automation accelerator in Seattle.
of Boulder analyzes email histories to determine the significance and importance of connections and, similar to LinkedIn, offers suggestions for the best people to meet and make introductions. The company graduated from Techstars Austin in 2013 and closed a $2.4 million round last year, bringing its total raised to $3.5 million.
- It was chosen over Colorado runners-up Native, a Techstars Boulder alum and first-place winner at the University of Colorado at Boulder's New Venture Challenge last year, which provides personal travel assistants to help users research and book travel and activities while traveling, and RxREVU, an exhaustive drug cost-comparison site helping physicians and patients find affordable options for treatment of illness. The Denver company raised $1 million in 2014, including funding from Galvanize Ventures (Galvanize also operates the Google hub in Denver).
LevelEleven uses a Salesforce API to gamify sales goals and process within corporate sales teams at companies like Ford, OpenTable, Comcast and PayPal. The Detroit startup is pretty far along, with $5.5 million in funding since its 2012 launch, including funds from Salesforce Ventures.
- It won out over the Ann Arbor startup, AdAdapted, which already secured $1.1 million for its service that delivers mobile advertising within mobile apps and games, and Genomenon, with software to quickly and efficiently analyze human genomes conceived by a team of pathologists at the University of Michigan. That company won a Michigan Collegiate Innovation Prize worth $40,000 in early 2014.
And the winners from the Rise of the Rest:
75 Fahrenheit, inspired by the United Nations initiative to raise the temperature in office buildings to 75 degrees, provides an HVAC control system and modeling system for commercial buildings that promises to save 40 percent on energy costs. The company won last year's Minnesota Cup, taking home $105,000.
PearDeck is an education technology startup that lets teachers create interactive presentations using Google Drive, share them on a projector in the classroom and on the screens of students to initiate live interactive learning sessions. The company raised a $500,000 seed round late last year and will participate this spring in the Village Capital EdTech Accelerator and the LAUNCHedu competition at South by Southwest. One of its four co-founders is a woman.
is bringing to market patented shoe insoles that generate and store energy from walking, which can then be used to power devices. In 2014, the "EnSoles" were named Popular Science's
Invention of the Year. The startup born out of Carnegie Mellon University and incubated at Pittsburgh's AlphaLab Gear accelerator raised $60,000 in a Kickstarter campaign
to launch the product in 2013. It's since raised more than $125,000, and launched a vision to develop more products that make it easier to power and interact with mobile technology, with a target of serving people in developing nations. The founders, one a female, were named two of Forbes
30-Under-30 in Energy.
For more on Durham's candidate, watch Birgisson's recent pitch at American Underground: