(Editor’s note: If it weren’t a post-holiday, this is where you’d be reading the Monday Business Briefing.)
Every day, we hear about – or talk with – crazy dreamers who are creating intriguing companies.
So new, some don’t even have offices or more than a handful of employees. Yet.
Many are still looking for serious investors, though the majority of these companies is real and growing.
And these new companies have serious potential to create jobs.
More than jobs.
To create buzz about Louisville as a vibrant city, not the predictable, UPS-addicted city of even 20 years ago.
There are still systemic economic problems left over from the real estate collapse and the ensuing financial crisis.
Louisville lacks both an innovative, powerhouse university and a culture of serial start-ups.
We lack a sufficient density of investors and funds.
But that’s not stopping a growing number of energetic people here with great ideas in that “anything is possible” space between simple friends-and-family start-ups and the pharma companies spawned at the University of Louisville.
The next Backupifys, if you would.
They’re just going for it ….
The interesting thing is, it’s a relatively small group of people, but more and more, they know each other. They support each other. It’s a very vibrant scene.
This country is, more than ever, a country divided between blue-sky entrepreneurs and those perfectly satisfied with the status quo.
Look, you’re going to get fired or burn out anyway. At least entrepreneurs succeed or fail on their own terms.
We say, “Go for it.”
Here’s our Insider Louisville quick list of some the new and newish companies that we believe have huge potential. And thanks to Adam Fish, Kent Oyler, Jason Falls, Deborah Boyer and many, many others for their thoughts and suggestions.
• Beam Technologies – “Alex Frommeyer and his wired toothbrush” was mentioned by every entrepreneur and investor we talked with for this post. The idea of combining ancient health care (the ancient Egyptians brushed their teeth) and modern technology is one more innovation by Frommeyer. The “smart” toothbrush uses a smartphone app to track how efficient a job you or your kids are doing … tell us that’s not a good idea. Beam is the latest iteration of an effort that started out when Frommeyer and other former Speed Engineering students formed Inven LLC, which has developed a dental tool used in root canals to save time and lower risk for the procedure. The question for investors is, when does Beam turn into a high-tech dental equipment company? The “Beam Team” is comprised of founders Alex Frommeyer, Daniel Dykes, and Alex Curry.
• FoodCalc – This is another consensus pick by almost every insider we interviewed, and a maturing company. CEO Ken Marshall moved FoodCalc here from San Francisco. Marshall was at the Insider Outing and spent a lot of time huddling with Ted Smith, director, Department of Economic Growth and Innovation at Louisville Metro Government. Could be because FoodCalc is in a sector with unlimited potential – showing companies how to make food healthier without impacting taste or pricing, and while building customer loyalty. FoodCalc company uses a nutrient laboratory database to calculate menu label information at a lower cost than a laboratory analysis. Our sources tell us they’re in the market for serious, serious digital talent including a Ruby on Rails (integrated CMS/data base) developer with a San Francisco-level salary and stock.
• Gyroskope – Gyroskope is the creation of Todd Smith, who used to own Label X, a Louisville-based indie record company he closed in 2008. Back then, Smith told LEO that someone has to figure come up with a model for how artists and the music companies can get paid – outside of iTunes, we’re guessing. Apparently, he has that plan, a plan that got a detailed post on CNN Money.
From the CNN post:
In a world of downloads and streams, making money as a musician is not easy. The days when getting one popular song onto Billboard’s Top 10 chart brought money, fame and gaggles of adoring fans are long gone. So what’s a struggling artist to do? Gyroskope, a Louisville, Kentucky-based company, has come up with a way for musicians to cash in on the video side of the business. The company provides a platform for an artist to upload videos of live concert performances, studio recording sessions and other behind-the-scenes exploits that diehard fans can view — for a price.
Here’s how it works. Videos are uploaded to a social platform, and the artists set their own prices for how much they want to charge. The videos, which are streamed from the cloud, can be viewed in a web browser as well as on iPhones, iPads and Android phones. Artists keeps 100% of the revenue. Gyroscope makes its money by charging the artist a monthly fee, ranging from as low as $19 a month for the “indie” plan to $499 a month for the “platinum plan.” Prices varying depending on the number of videos and bandwidth needed.
• Kentucky Chia – Insider Louisville met with Kentucky Chia execs Zach Pennington and Joanna Cruz a few weeks ago and they are the real deal. Smart, management-obsessed MBAs from the Univerity of Louisville with a product they have a near monopoly on – chia seeds. Not the Chia Pet gag gift. The grain that, like soy beans, can be incorporated into an infinite number of food products starting with animal feeds, apparently. (Think the Louisville version of Alltech, which has transformed into a global business in the past few years, built on nutritional supplements for horses.) Trouble was, chia plants grew in a different hemisphere. But Pennington, Cruz and company came up with a patent-pending, genetically unique line of seeds to grow chia in Kentucky and other temperate areas of the United States. Wow.
From U of L’s website:
For the second year in a row, a UofL College of Business team won first place at the UC Spirit of Enterprise Graduate Business Plan Competition. The team, Kentucky Chia, took home the $10,000 Champion Award and an automatic bid to the 2012 Venture Labs Investment Competition in Austin, TX, otherwise known as the ‘Super Bowl’ of business plan competitions.
• MobileMedTek – is a new local medical device company that specializes in the mobilization of medical technologies. Simply put, they turn big bulky equipment into small portable equipment – handheld slate devices that do all the stuff big freestanding equipment used to do. ElectroTek equipment will condense five major tests into a single unit including EKG, EEG, EMG, NCS and ECG. MobileMedTek has a contract with Apple Computer, authorized to design and develop custom medical hardware for iPads and whatever comes next. And next for them is cardiology, ear, nose and throat and radiology. And that’s all we really know.
• Red e App – This is a company with a million ideas on how to use messaging technology for handheld devices and other wireless platforms. The latest idea from CEO Jonathan Erwin and Patrick Goodman, product director, is using secure mobile texting apps as a direct corporate or institutional communications tool. “Red e App is pilot testing in higher education and our first (client) is the School of Medicine at the University of Louisville,” said Erwin. “In addition to higher education, we are focusing on health care and enterprise, specifically where their employee, partner or affiliate audience is mostly mobile, and not tethered to a desk.” Key clients include Fleet Feet Sports Louisville, Leadership Louisville, Fat Jimmy’s Pizza, Gray’s College Bookstore, Quills and Comfy Cow Handcrafted Ice Cream and Desserts. And yeah, Insider Louisville. But we’d include them even if we didn’t love them just because they’re really smart.
• Roobiq – Roobiq pivoted several months ago from patent analysis. Now, Adam Fish and Christopher Vermilion are building “Siri’s business cousin,” a mobile personal assistant for enterprise use called “Roobi.” Similar to Siri, Roobi uses artificial intelligence to interact with the user in natural language and in a conversational dialog. From Adam:
The short summary is that we realized our text processing or natural language processing skills were pretty good, and after a brief comment from a sales friend of mine that he would love to use Siri with SalesForce (CRM system), we decided we could do that.
Roobiq is building Siri for enterprise applications such as SalesForce.
• Rooibee Red Tea – Heather Howell, ex Humana, and former Brown-Forman exec Jeff Stum have turned Rooibee Red Tea into a national brand, adding West Coast distribution last month as they move into almost all 50 states. From Howell:
Giant Eagle picked us up in 37 banner stores including their Market District Stores (45,0000 square-foot grocery concepts). We also won the Southern Division of Whole Foods, the Northeast Division and are launching the entire Southwest Division this month. We are also in one of the largest and most prestigious food brokerage firms in the USA and gained nationwide distribution. We are also going into all Dierberg’s in St.Louis. We move into @WalmartLabs this September! We are the artisanal beverage for this concept’s Sept food box. One the most innovative concepts Walmart has had in years! Check it out! @walmartlabs.com. Lastly, Earth Fare…they are new and are coming to Louisville!!! Yes, at The Summit. We are in all 28 of their stores.
This is just a partial list. We plan to keep updating our lists of entrepreneurs and the businesses they’re building as quickly as we can, because there are new concepts and new companies every day.
What? We omitted your business?
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