Instead of its usual crowd of curious children, on Wednesday night Raleigh’s Marbles Kids Museum was filled with investors and entrepreneurs gathering for RIoT’s Pitch Night, the second that followed the RIoT Accelerator Program and sixth overall.
As guests filled the presentation room, quickly grabbing tacos and craft beer, the founders from the six accelerator program graduates—Companah, Green Stream Technologies Inc., Purillume Inc., NIRSleep, Safe Zone and VitalFlo Inc.—were getting their game faces on. They were competing for the coveted RIoT championship belt, awarded to the winner of the IoT-focused (Internet of Things) event.
Sitting in the front row were judges representing both the public and private sectors: Amy Bastian of NC IDEA, Veronica Creech from the City of Raleigh, Eva Doss with The Launch Place seed stage fund (Danville, Va.), Olalah Njenga of the NCWorks Commission and Jackie Bennett with VC firm SJF Ventures.
After six stellar pitches (and some brow sweat) the judges chose Green Stream Technologies as the winner for its affordable flood detection technology.
Veronica Creech, the economic development manager for the City of Raleigh, said Green Stream’s technology is important because of the consequences that come with flooding.
“Storms and weather changes are affecting all of us all the time, and floods are so serious,” Creech said. “It’s displacing people, it’s limiting our affordable housing—which is already limited by where we can buy and where we can build.”
After 12 weeks in the RIoT accelerator program, Green Stream President and CEO, Jim Gray, said the company is looking to launch more tests in North Carolina and explore new markets for its technology.
“It does feel like a bit of a validation,” Gray said. “We’ve worked really hard on this product. We dove in full force and it’s paying off.”
In her pitch, Green Stream’s Chief Operating Officer, Karen Lindquist, said the company’s flood sensors use non-contact, ultra-sonic technology to measure the distance from the flood water’s surface to the sensor. Lindquist said the devices can withstand harsh weather conditions and are small enough to fit on a lamppost.
In 2018, Green Stream joined seven other organizations as a member of MIT Solve’s Coastal Communities solver class, sponsored by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The company is also a finalist for an NC IDEA grant worth $50K and has deployed 53 sensors in Virginia and the Carolinas.
Although Green Stream was the winner selected by the judges, the audience chose Safe Zone, a gunshot detection device for shootings in public or commercial buildings, as the popular winner in a social media poll. Safe Zone is the first product of Florida-based AVidea Group.
Even though he technically did not win the competition, John Anderson, Safe Zone’s Chief Technology Officer and Founder, said he was happy to have the support of the people.
“One of the big things we want to do here is raise awareness that these solutions exist and get in front of as many people as possible,” he said. “We want to make those connections and be able to get good feedback from lots of people.”
Although the atmosphere was lighthearted, the pitch event was a major milestone for each of the companies.
“It’s kind of their formal introduction to the larger IoT community,” said RIoT’s program director Rachael Meleney. “Really it’s their launching point to go out, start selling, acquiring new customers and growing their companies.”