The Blog


 As usual, a huge thank you to our supporters:
UVM, Vermont Technology Council, Middlebury College, Vermont Agency of Commerce, U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, VT EPSCoR, Fairpoint Communications, and GBIC.

Member Spotlight:

Chris Jones3c636ddf-702c-4e97-bbef-b3162ab72813
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Office: VCET @BTV

 
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from, how did you get involved with VCET? 
 
I was born in DC, but grew up in New Hampshire. I ended up in Vermont as a lifestyle choice. My previous company, ForMyOdds, was also incubated at VCET. We built the first IVF predictive app, the first multiple sclerosis predictive app, and another one for breast cancer pathways. A number of pharma companies have asked us to customize these apps towards the wearables space, and to capture data from the Internet of Things (IoT), so that’s where these apps are heading. We enhanced these greatly with help from Marguerite Dibble and the GameTheory team. We built many relationships through FMO that have been extremely valuable in building trUStr. We also had Uwe Heiss design our awesome logo and slides.
 
What is trUStr?
 
trUStr is all about rewards for best practices. We’ve cracked a nut in that we’re able to reward any behavioral change that will resonate over time in the best possible way. As we apply behavioral economic theory to what we’re doing, we’ve been able to make getting rewarded fun and beneficial. This is really a purpose-driven company. The environment we’ve created is extremely secure, which is very important to users, and we have a super smart and creative team. We’ve tested different markets, (like the insurance markets), but we have some secret sauce that we believe will be disruptive.
 
What makes trUStr unique? What makes Vermont unique?
 
trUStr rewards excellence in unexpected ways that work. As it gets rolled out, we expect to learn a lot more about what motivates change. I have been able to work with local universities and non-profit entities that bring real competitive advantage to the market. Vermont offers a rich intellectual environment, but with a lack of business infrastructure and relatively low cost of living, which is actually a big advantage for us. The extremely knowledgeable and creative people available in Vermont would have been quickly snatched up on the west coast.
 
How did you come up with trUStr?
 
UVM’s Dr. John Evans suggested that I create something in Vermont that leverages incentives; originally I said no. But shortly after that conversation, believe it or not, trUStr came to me in a dream. Existing rewards programs provide overly standardized options. It is the people who run marathons that are winning the corporate wellness contests, yet the bottom 10% are the ones costing companies the most resources. I envisioned a better solution and put together the right team to make it happen.
 
What’s your biggest challenge right now?
 

Finding the right talent for our team and choosing smart money that will give us an 18 month runway. We want to stay in VT, and the venture firms have so far been very supportive of that. Another challenge has been grabbing market share, while keeping things simple and staying true to ourselves. We have so many great ideas which we bookmark, but we need to stay focused. Cyber-hygiene presented an ideal  to leverage our contacts who have renowned expertise in cybersecurity. David Bradbury helped to put us together with Norwich University and it is looking very promising. We are really excited about rewarding good cyber practices such as changing passwords and logging off. This is HUGE.

What has been your largest success?

My daughters (ages 1 and 4). They’re constantly inspiring me. Being dad has also made me much more efficient with my time. I know that I have to get everything done during the day so that I can spend time with my daughters when I’m at home.

What are you looking forward to most on a personal level?

Taking the stigma out of making yourself a better you. And I want to see more people connecting and getting along through disruptive innovations. I also want to help the innovators of tomorrow. I’m done inventing, I want to enhance other people’s ideas.

Anything else you want us to know about you or trUStr?

It’s free to the user. We hope that we’ll encourage people by nudging them towards a more fabulous self. It’s a win-win to the employer and the person using trUStr, not to mention the advertiser and the whole trUStr team. I’d like to say that trUStr will ride shotgun with company wellness initiatives, but that expression may be dated to 2016!

Also, I recently rode in the first 3D printed super car (as seen above), called Blade! Check it out here.


News

VCET@BTV welcomes three new groups: Ogee, ThinkMD, and the UVM Medical Center Innovation Program, as well as several new individuals.


Dave’s Pick of the Week:

The Bill Simmons Podcast
Ep. 95: Billionaire Investor Chris Sacca


Recommended Reading

The One Step Everyone Misses In Marketing (And How To Fix It)
Andy Karuza, founder at brandbuddee.com and co-founder at Fensens, reminds entrepreneurs not to market backwards.

No Venture Capital Needed, or Wanted
A great New York Times article on the difference between start-ups that are self-financed and those that seek investors to raise money.

The Harvard Innovation Labs: The story behind the numbers
A great account of how Harvard has bridged the gap between different fields to foster entrepreneurial innovation through their Innovation Labs

What does it take to raise capital, in SaaS, in 2016?
Christoph Janz, Managing Partner at Point Nine Capital and SaaS investor, gives his thoughts on raising capital in the SaaS industry.


Great Opportunities

Got Kids? Check out the VT Summer Tech Camps for ages 6-14 run by the Young Hacks Academy. They are being held in locations all over VT this summer, including Burlington and Middlebury.

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Liberty Dupuis is a student at Smith College working as a VCET summer associate. She is a double major in economics and medieval studies and serves as Conduct Board Outreach Chair. While at school, Liberty enjoys playing polo and works as an intern for the Smith College Horse Memoirs Project. As a VCET associate, Liberty assists with social media, research, and VCET portfolio companies, as well as working on a number of other current and upcoming projects.

Please find attached the FY15 Vermont Seed Capital Fund (VSCF) Annual Report for public stakeholders.  Included in the report is Subsequent Event information as of December 31, 2015. Some company transactions in process simply took longer to close than expected this year.So far, the Vermont Seed Capital Fund, which is managed by the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET)  has now invested into 20 diverse early stage companies since May 2010, seen its portfolio attract cumulatively over $66M in capital, support nearly $30M in payroll, and generate revenues of over $36M, so far …  However, there remains much to do, it is always dynamic and risky given this sector of investment, but the Fund’s challenges ahead pale in comparison to the incredible efforts, ambition, innovation and risks undertaken by these entrepreneurs, employees, co-investors and partners.

Thank you for your continued support for the Fund, VCET and for Vermont’s entrepreneurs and start-ups. Please direct any questions to David Bradbury at david@Vermonttechnologies.com.

Click here for the report: VSCF FY15 Annual Public Report

Samantha “Sam” Roach-Gerber is a 2013 graduate of Northeastern University where she studied Organizational Communication and Environmental Studies. Prior to joining VCET, Sam spent two years managing Customer Service and Sales at Vermont Farm Table. Before moving to Vermont, Sam interned for WeSpire and EnerNOC, two companies she greatly admires. As Manager of Community Engagement and Operations at VCET, Sam orchestrates coworking membership, plans and executes events for members and the surrounding community, heads up communications, and manages VCET’s three facilities

Julia Wood is a student at the University of Vermont working as a VCET associate. At UVM, she is majoring in economics with a double minor in environmental studies and business administration. She is also part of the Honors College and serves as the Vice President of Finance of TriDelta, Chief Administrative Officer of the Economics Club, and a member of the Honors College Student Advisory Group. At VCET, Julia aids with social media, interpreting data, and works on  a variety of other projects.

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October 20, 2015 (Burlington, VT): The Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET) and Hotel Vermont hosted the InnovateHER VT Challenge, a new business pitch event in Burlington, VT on Monday, October 19th to a packed house of area entrepreneurs, students, and innovation ecosystem participants.  Mamava, a company who delivers design solutions for nursing mamas on the go, was named the contest’s $10,000 prize winner.

“We were incredibly inspired by our co-presenters last night and are deeply humbled to receive this award. We’re very hopeful and excited to represent our brand and Vermont on the larger SBA stage, showcasing how successful business is not only about doing well, but about doing the right thing” said Sascha Mayer of Mamava.

VCET received 37 different applications for the competition but had to narrow it down to 6 companies for this pitch event. Wheelpad, JoyRyde, Recontext Solutions, ThinkMD, BioFlag and Mamava shared 5 minute pitches of how their company makes an impact on the lives of women or families. Over 100 people filled Hotel Vermont’s Juniper Hall to hear these stories.

“The vibrancy, strength and diversity among Vermont’s entrepreneurs was clear to all,” said VCET President David Bradbury.  “Teams came from Hardwick, Wilmington, Burlington and Middlebury and showed real solutions for genuine market problems ranging from cancer drug discovery, data science tools for education outcomes and anti-texting while driving apps.”

” Each presenter did an outstanding job and the ideas and concepts presented were in some cases life changing and in all cases disruptive of the current (which is what we want). Hotel Vermont was honored to be a co-host of this event and looks forward to an active winter with more activities together with VCET,” said Hans Van Wees, General Manager of Hotel Vermont.

Thanks to Kelly Scannell from Reading Plus, co-founder of Dealer.com Rick Gibbs and Mary Evslin founder of NG Advantage who were on the judges panel and had the difficult task of selecting just one comapny to receive the $10,000 cash prize.

Vermont EPSCoR and VCET underwrote this year’s cash prize.  Mamava also receives a nomination to participate in the national US Small Business Administration’s InnovateHER contest in spring 2016.
“Our team was really impressed with the quality of the ideas, execution, and pitches from little ol’ Vermont- every single pitch was very compelling.” — Lyn Olignaro, founder of BioFlag

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About Hotel Vermont: Locally developed, designed and owned/operated, the rustic and modern Hotel Vermont is the first independent hotel to join the quaint town of Burlington. The 125-room, LEED-certified hotel features an array of Vermont-made amenities from local partners. www.hotelvt.com.

About VT EPSCoR:  The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) is a program designed to fulfill the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) mandate to promote scientific progress nationwide.  Through this program, the NSF establishes partnerships with government, higher education and industry that are designed to effect lasting improvements in a state’s or region’s research infrastructure, R&D capacity and hence, its national R&D competitiveness.  Dr. Judith Van Houten serves as Vermont State EPSCoR Director and is currently leading the Research on Adaptation to Climate Change in the Lake Champlain Basin (RACC) initiative.  In 1992, the SBIR Phase (0) program for small businesses was launched in Vermont by Dr. Van Houten with Dr. Josh Van Houten, Professor Emeritus, Saint Michael’s College.  It now serves as a national model for small business development across EPSCoR jurisdictions. Visit us at www.uvm.edu/EPSCoR

About Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET): Since 2008, VCET has worked with  over 1,300 start-ups and entrepreneurs, now operates 3 coworking facilities, curates an expert mentor network and makes direct investments from a $5M revolving seed capital fund.  VCET was co-founded by US Senator Patrick Leahy, the University of Vermont’s Dr. John Evans and the Vermont Technology Council. In 2013, VCET was named #11 globally and #5 in the US by the UBI Index.Visit at www.VermontTechnologies.com and follow @VCET

October 9, 2015 (Burlington, VT): The Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET) and Hotel Vermont announced today the InnovateHER VT Challenge, a new business pitch event in Burlington, VT.

InnovateHER VT is a part of a national pitch competition that celebrates and promotes women entrepreneurs and ventures that impact and empower the lives of women and families.

The competition will be held at Hotel Vermont on October 19, 2015. Vermont EPSCoR and VCET have underwritten a $10,000 cash prize to the event winner as well as a nomination to participate in the national SBA event (which has $70,000 in prizes) in spring 2016. Organizers intend this competition to increase access to capital and feedback for local entrepreneurs, to highlight the importance of women led companies, and ventures that are specifically designed to improve the lives of women and families.

Hotel Vermont General Manager, Hans van Wees states, “Our community is fortunate to be home to one of the highest concentrations of talent, creativity and determination in the country. Hotel Vermont is honored to have hosted many of Vermont’s young entrepreneurs since opening in May 2013. Working with VCET in hosting entrepreneurs who develop ideas, products and services that will impact and empower the lives of women and families is especially gratifying.”

Last year, 36.8% of businesses in the US were started by women (according to research from the Kauffman Foundation). “Vermont’s challenge is to support entrepreneurs in order to grow its economy and women led ventures can be a greater part of the solution.  InnovateHER VT is one of the many events and programs advancing women as entrepreneurs,” said Catherine Collins, VP of Entrepreneur Development at VCET.  “Hotel Vermont is a forward leaning brand that supports Vermont entrepreneurs in many ways including things such as placing Vermont Soap in each room and showcasing Budnitz Bicycles in the lobby.”

The judging panel consists of local entrepreneurs and investors which includes Kelly Scannell from Reading Plus, co-founder of Dealer.com Rick Gibbs and others.

The event beings at 5:30pm, is free and open to the public. Individuals are encouraged to participate in the competition or to join as a networking opportunity within Vermont’s venture community. Information about entering the challenge as an entrepreneur can be found at innovatehervt.com/rsvp. Applications to pitch are due by Noon on October 15th.

InnovateHER VT

October 19th, 2015
5:307:30 pm
Juniper Hall at Hotel Vermont
Burlington, VT

Please Register to attend the Event at:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/innovateher-tickets-18955792285

Applicants to make a pitch apply here:  http://www.innovatehervt.com/rsvp/

About Hotel Vermont: Locally developed, designed and owned/operated, the rustic and modern Hotel Vermont is the first independent hotel to join the quaint town of Burlington. The 125-room, LEED-certified hotel features an array of Vermont-made amenities from local partners. www.hotelvt.com.

 

About Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET):

Since 2008, VCET has worked with over 1,300 start-ups and entrepreneurs, now operates 3 coworking facilities, curates an expert mentor network and makes direct investments from a $5M revolving seed capital fund.  VCET was co-founded by US Senator Patrick Leahy, the University of Vermont’s Dr. John Evans and the Vermont Technology Council. In 2013, VCET was named #11 globally and #5 in the US by the UBI Index.Visit atwww.VermontTechnologies.com and follow @VCET

Newsletter #8: Feb. 25, 2015

We’re all wondering when Harold Camping will finally be right. Probably never. That guy was a dolt (as evidenced by his TWO failed predictions that the world was going to end). And even if he had been right, why would we want to know the world was about to end? So we can live our last days in fear? Sounds like a buzz kill if I ever heard one. But it did get me thinking…what if the rapture were by sector? Further, what if that sector were tech startups?

Continue Reading..

Please find attached the Fiscal Year 2014 public report of the Vermont Seed Capital Fund, LP.   A subsidiary of the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET) is the Fund Manager. Investing activities began in May 2010 shortly after the first capital contribution arrived, and as of October 2014, 18 companies from around Vermont have been initially supported.   The Fund completed its 5th consecutive annual financial and process Audit without issue as conducted by an independent CPA firm.

VCET invested $1M in capital alongside a total of $4.1M of one time capital from the State of Vermont via the Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA)  to form this permanent, revolving $5.1M high risk pool of capital.
Click here for the report:  VSCFFY14AnnualPublicReport9.30.14-2-2

View VCET’s impact metrics as of Spring 2014

Impact Sheet Fall 2014