CED’s Venture Connect Online Offers Same Pitches And Networking Virtually

Triangle tech kingpin Robbie Allen (left) holds a fireside chat with Diveplane CEO Mike Capps at the 2019 CED Tech Conference.

If there’s anything that CED’s Venture Connect has shown, it’s that entrepreneurs are resilient.  When the Covid-19 pandemic hit the United States and North Carolina in mid-March, CED and the entrepreneurs behind Venture Connect showed their grit in the face of adversity.

They made the annual event virtual—dubbing it Venture Connect Online—transitioning it to three binge-able “episodes.” The first was released on Monday, May 4, while the next two will be released on each of the next two Mondays. The content will remain available on demand to paid attendees ($200 for everything, including pitches from 90+ startups) through the end of June.

The first-week tech companies featured a number of Triangle-based startups we’ve already profiled: LearnPlatform, Blue Recruit, FeedStation, Floodlight Software, Newsco, Reflekt Me, Plan2Play, ProAxion, Protopia, Home Lending Pal and Voxelight. You should check them out! But for the rest of this story, we’ll focus on the startups we haven’t already featured.

In episode one, EasyVote Solutions, Venti and One Donation took to the virtual stage to present their businesses.

EasyVote Solutions is a SaaS platform for cities, counties and states to make the process of running elections more efficient and transparent. Headquartered in Atlanta, EasyVote Solutions has more than 225 customers in 18 states and grew 60% last year on a $1.5 million run rate. Cary’s Cofounders Capital is an investor.

“Customers come to us because they know they’re going to need our platform going forward,” said EasyVote CFO Charles Davis.

New Bern-based startup Venti is taking some of the techniques and technology used in the military forces and applying them to the first responder world at a consumer-level cost.

“Venti LLC has developed an initial product designed to save lives, maybe specifically my son’s life, a professional firefighter,” said Venti Co-Founder Ed Hoffmann.

One Donation, based in Winston-Salem, utilizes blockchain technology to track and verify donations, with the ability to be incorporated into any payroll platform while promoting corporations’ social responsibility and improving employee engagement. COO Graham Treakle said One Donation is thriving during Covid-19 and will consider an equity infusion with a million-dollar investment.

“One Sunday morning, my brother was sitting in church as a collection basket passed by and being a millennial, he never carried cash,” Treakle said. “He thought to himself, there’s got to be an easier way for you to make a contribution, and that’s where the idea for One Donation was hatched. One Donation is an efficient way for donors to support millions of nonprofit organizations through payroll deduction.”

In episode two, companies 6AM City and CERCA made presentations.

Remember back when there were “conferences” and companies had “booths”? Oh, those were the days! (This is from the 2019 CED TechCon.)

In the age of news deserts and a declining newspaper industry, 6AM City provides users access to hyper-local content coming to publishers. At 6 a.m. everyday, 6AM City provides localized newsletters—including a Raleigh edition—in a way that COO Ryan Heafy believes has redefined local media. Heafy said the startup is well on its way to achieving its $3.5 million financial goal for 2020 and asks investors to join its $1.5 million preferred equity round.

“Newspapers and journalists are going out of business and getting laid off every single day,” Heafy said. “6AM is here to fill that void. All that’s caused content creators to be each and every one of you. Local businesses and my grandmother are both equally creating content and looking for a distribution vehicle.”

CERCA, a Charlotte-based startup, is a mobile platform optimizing a people-to-people network and provides data insights to association leaders and conference planners with a different value from LinkedIn and event apps, said Founder and CEO Dave Bodel.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that our customer base is preoccupied by coronavirus as virtually every conference globally for the next 90 days has been cancelled, sadly with more to come,” Bodel said. “But we believe the value proposition for CERCA is even more powerful on the backside of this crisis than it already was before. Shaking hands may never be quite the same, but delivering intel on the customers’ interest while guiding the members’ best connections with or without a two-day event is a lasting and powerful proposition.”

Next up, PERMITS.com targets the pain many contractors face with a tech-enabled service for contractors of any size and at any time to request construction-related permits for anywhere in the United States. Covid-19 led the startup to an extension of this service.

“COVID-19 really unlocked an opportunity to take this back-end experience that we built for our own company and to say wow,” CEO Ray Antonino said. “For the first time ever, we can productize that, put it in the hands of the building departments that need it most and help our fellow government at the same time.”

Wilmington-based FlowROI is known as the real estate cloud. CEO Sam Ibrahim partnered with top real estate agents and embarked on a journey to create a better way for real estate transactions, incorporating all tools with all necessary parties.

“We saw the need,” Ibrahim said. “We saw the pain. We saw the chaos. We have the experience, and we deliver the results.”

The first week of Venture Connect also offered a podcast entitled How to Sell Yourself and Your Company to Investors by Wilson Sonsini.

The entire event will include over 90 pitches online and effortless connection by clicking on a calendar link for a startup under each video. Investors are also invited to exclusive events each Thursday surrounding topics like deal flow, the impact of Covid-19 and predictions for the rest of the year.

There’s still time to sign up to receive all the on-demand content and virtual access to Venture Connect Online.

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About Suzanne Blake 84 Articles
Suzanne profiles startups and innovation for GrepBeat. She is also a junior studying journalism and political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Reach Suzanne at suzanne@grepbeat.com.