For the first time since he underwent brain surgery to remove a tumor three months ago, Scott Moody, co-founder and CEO of K4Connect, sat before a room full of entrepreneurs and 1,250 online viewers Tuesday night to share about the triumphs and trials of his most recent startup journey.
It was the kickoff of a new organization in the Triangle called Verge NC, one that grew so large a following in its home base of Indianapolis that it drew the attention of local entrepreneur and event organizer Will Hardison. He's starting the organization's first chapter outside Indianapolis and rebranding his popular StartupAndPlay event to Verge.
Monthly, the organization will host events with pitches and a fireside chat, in hopes of educating entrepreneurs on pitching and other aspects of building a successful business. In the video above, Hardison says that a founder should be able to present to a pitch in the time (or less) it takes to ride an elevator.
That was the goal of the three companies that pitched at the event at Research Triangle Park.
The first company, RocketBolt, helps businesses turn website visitors into customers by tracking who clicks on email links and visits the website, and personalizing messages to them. FilterEasy was next. The Raleigh startup has a subscription service that delivers air filters to customers’ homes at the time the old filters need to be changed, and at a cheaper rate than in retail stores. Partnering with the largest air filter manufacturer, FilterEasy allows homeowners to choose the size and quality of filter and create their own shipping schedule. BoomboxFM, a recent graduate from The Startup Factory, wrapped up the pitches with a presentation about a free platform that helps people discover their next favorite musical artist or band. BoomboxFM sends a personalized, music-filled delivery to subscribers’ email every week, specialized to taste preferences. BoomBoxFM has grown its subscribers 10 percent per week since launch, and adds about 10 music curators (those behind the emails) to the platform every month, looking to “marry the best aspects of human and technical curation.”
After the pitches and a great amount of applause from the audience, Scott Moody was welcomed to the stage.
Moody is the co-founder and former chairman/CEO of AuthenTec, a leading provider of security and identity management solutions, acquired by Apple in October 2012. You may be familiar with AuthenTec’s fingerprint sensor, as it is now the foundation of the iPhone and iPad’s Touch ID. (Here’s a story we did in 2013 about AuthenTec and the iPhone 5S.) In October 2013, Moody co-founded K4Connect, a software development company aiming to make people’s lives better through technology. K4Connect recently announced its first product, K4Life, a hardware device that connects all of the various technology-enabled products in the home with a mobile app that gives disabled people, seniors and their caregivers control over those products in one place. The app lets people answer the door from their living room, change the temperature in their house or control appliances with the press of a button.
Hardison chose Moody to speak at Verge NC’s kickoff because the two have become good friends despite their 20+ year age difference, Hardison says.
“When I got heckled at a RTP180, Scott was the first person to call me the next day with advice on how to shake it off and keep on going,” he remembered.
Hardison also admires Moody’s personal and professional story. Brain surgery has given him a new perspective on life and business. (Here’s a story Moody wrote for us before the surgery, in which he talks about perspective.)
“He’s overcome a huge obstacle with the recent brain surgery and getting back on his feet to keep on pursuing his passion,” Hardison says. “He also has a big heart.”
That was immediately apparent when Moody opened up the fireside chat with a powerful sentiment: “If I died now, I’d be a happy man. I have three great children, a happy marriage and how many people in their career can say that they did something people will genuinely remember?”
Moody said that his work has always been his “sport,” and that the thrill of victory is a tremendous amount of fun for him.
However, he has learned that his family is the most critical and important element of his life. In fact, K4Connect’s name is based on the four essential women in his life: his wife, Katherine, and his three daughters, Kelsey, Kristin and Kourtney.
“Personally, my life is a mix of the two things I love the most: family and work,” he reflected after explaining his sweet, comic and sometimes sarcastic relationship with his daughters.
Moody expressed the importance of startups that center around people, product and perseverance, all things he believes he and his teams have achieved in their endeavors.
Perhaps the most inspiring part of the chat was when Moody shared about a life-changing trip to Rwanda, where he met a woman running a coffee shop, who shaped a new way of thinking for him.
She opened a dozen or more orphanages and baked cakes for children after the genocide. Her cake baking business then turned into a coffee shop with a bakery, where she employs women and trains them to start their own businesses.
Her story motivated him to to start another company.
But what inspired K4Life to be that company was an encounter with a man who had multiple sclerosis (MS).
After learning about Moody's ideas for a connected home device, the man told him: “I try and take about 1,000 steps per day. Those 1,000 steps dictate the quality of my life. You can help make my life better.”
Moody continually emphasized that his goal is to “make life easier through technology” for his customers and to boost their quality of life.
At the end of the chat, when a member of the audience asked if Moody wants "to grow K4Life to be a big company like AuthenTec?," he answered, “Yes, but the focus is always on the client, who is the end user. Our job is to make lives better—helping people be independent, healthier and happier for a long time.”