Wait. Can I call them pitches?
End-of-season "showcases" just doesn't work in that sentence.
As Dave Neal, co-founder of The Startup Factory told the audience on Tuesday, what used to be called 'Pitch Day' is now called 'The Startup Factory Showcase' due to new SEC regulations.
But they're still pitches, so that's what I'm going to call them, dammit. The startups simply don't mention that they're raising during their pitches anymore; that's saved for a different investor-only time and place.
The event's new name was one of several firsts debuted at the accelerator's fourth season finale.
The showcase venue, Fletcher Opera House in Raleigh, was also new, as was holding the event in conjunction with Startup Summit, which began at the Raleigh Convention Center shortly after the showcase ended.
The Fall 2013 class was also the first in which a TSF company raised a round of funding before and during its participation in the accelerator.
Coursefork closed a $375,000 seed round just after beginning the The Startup Factory program in August.
This particular first is evidence of the accelerator's growing attraction and credibility. Other evidence -- such as the 150 applications for admission into the Fall 2013 class and the growing percentage of these applicants that are from outside the Triangle region -- has been mounting for some time now.
Yesterday I was given more evidence. Between my time at Fletcher Opera House and the Raleigh Convention Center, I saw 25 different startups pitch in a 9-hour period, and can say that The Startup Factory companies were among the most polished. They had clearly practiced to maximize affect.
I already gave what has been referred to as an "intimate" look at four of the six graduating companies a few weeks ago. At the showcase, I got to learn more about the other two companies: HomeWellness and Szl.
HomeWellness helps homeowners understand how they can reduce costs, increase efficiency, and improve the comfort of their homes.
When describing the benefits of the company's service, CEO Colby Swanson often refers to home "health." This language fits given the significant role that homes play in our lives and the amount of money we spend on home repair, maintenance, etc. And this language is particularly fitting given the company's target customer. HomeWellness offers their service to employers as an employee benefit -- much like many health and wellness programs today.
Szl provides users with personalized online content. In his pitch, Co-founder AJ Peralta emphasized the company's technology, which has been in the making for two years. As you "sizzle" or "fizzle" the content it feeds you, their platform learns your preferences, sorting through the mess of irrelevant Internet media to find what you'll deem to be the good stuff. Yes, like this article.
Szl will be launching their beta platform in December.
The other graduating companies were Brevado, Coursefork, 4Soils, and RocketBolt.