By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.
A heavy day of rain yesterday clearly impacted the attendance but not the enthusiasm inside the Legends Ballroom in Tullahoma as nine teams in the inaugural JusticeXL accelerator held their “Demo Day.”
“I would like to think I learned as much from my cohorts as they learned from me,” Jerry Wright, JusticeXL Program Manager, told us during the networking session that preceded the teams’ pitches.
Twelve teams were introduced 10 weeks ago and another one was added a few weeks later. On Wednesday, nine presented their ideas. The other four teams dropped out for various reasons.
“It has been a learning experience for all of us,” Wright said. JusticeXL involved on-site activities as well as sessions delivered by distance learning.
Six of the nine companies that presented yesterday were focused on some aspect of public safety or corrections; the other three had a focus on military clients.
Seth McBee, Co-Founder of Seke, LLC, described the accelerator experience as “very rewarding.” He said that he and business partner Kevin Winzer felt like they had become more professional and now had a product for public safety.
The Lexington, KY-based start-up has patented technology, both issued and pending, that is part of two products – “You Saw Me” and “Illuminated Safety.” Both are vests that individuals wear. The former was the initial focus, developed so that runners and walkers could be seen by drivers at night. The latter is the new product, targeted at public safety officers and those working construction sites.
McBee said customers range from police departments and construction companies to enterprises like Blue Grass Airport and United Airlines.
Turner Nashe, President of Innertainment Delivery Systems, said he would “do it again” if invited for another accelerator cohort. What did he find most beneficial? “The intricacies of dealing with others in financing your business,” Nashe said, explaining that he has bootstrapped the company thus far and will generate about $2.4 million this year.
“It was an idea that turned into a mission that became a company,” the Nashville resident said in describing Innertainment. The company provides educational content for prisoners to address what Nashe said is a 76 percent recidivism rate within five years of release from a correctional facility.
“It went really well,” Paul Kapu of R3DSTAR said. “It has given us more exposure to investors in Birmingham and Huntsville.”
R3DSTAR, which is located in the Nashville area, markets a patient inmate management system that Kapu describes as “a full-blown EHR.” That term refers to electronic medical record. Its RedEHS product has been installed in 15 Tennessee jails, including nearby Grainger County.
Among its several benefits, Kapu said it allows these facilities to provide electronic documentation in the event of court trials related to prisoner treatment.
“We have five instances where cases in Tennessee courts have been thrown-out due to our documentation,” Kapu explained.
Huntsville, AL resident Jeff Hammock presented MechOptix which is a finalist in the latest Alabama Launchpad competition. The company is close to going to market with an LED brake lamp that lights-up every time a vehicle slows.
For Hammock, a key motivation is personal. He is a motorcycle rider.
“If I get rear ended, I’m going to the hospital or the morgue,” he explained, adding, “We’re a sensor company with an emphasis on safety.”
JusticeXL is an initiative of several organizations including the Southern Middle Tennessee Entrepreneur Centers led by Dan Marcum.
COMING-UP NEXT WEEK: Marcum’s reflections as he says he’s retiring.