Along with the innovation of new tech from the tech transfer industry among universities comes a hefty amount of market research. But at Durham-based NanoVest, innovators are helping other innovators.
NanoVest’s SaaS platform allows market assessments of new technologies, providing instant access to patent, market data, grants, research, regulatory and company information.
The startup is a semifinalist for one of NC IDEA’s $50K SEED grants and is currently a part of the first cohort of the mid-Atlantic PAX Momentum accelerator. (You can see all nine PAX Momentum participants here.)
Co-Founders Aditya Badve and Sifron Benjamin were two UNC friends who graduated and met their third Co-Founder Kevin Magee, who has a background in sales and business development, at a startup event.
Originally, NanoVest began in 2017 as a crowdfunding platform but with several iterations, it pivoted to the tech transfer industry. This is where university technology transfer offices are involved in the technology transfer and commercialization of potential products from research that occurred at the university. They can use NanoVest to see if inventions are able to be patented and the likelihood of making money from them.
“As we were growing—and we were growing pretty quickly,” Badve said, “we realized that in order for us to scale, we needed to come up with some solution, either by bringing more people on, or finding some sort of technical solution to do the same research we were doing automatically.”
NanoVest is now at a point where they’re aggregating information and coming up with unique insights that no competitors are able to come up with, Badve said.
While the startup is currently working on a subscription basis with 10 university clients, NanoVest is in the process of applying the same foundational algorithms to create other products more based on an e-commerce platform and geared toward students, which would not require a yearly subscription.
NanoVest started with universities because of the founders’ familiarity with the market research that these university offices have to do, but they’ve found a potentially much larger market. Corporations are having a tremendous problem trying to access overwhelming data, Badve said.
NanoVest has also brought on nine interns from across the country from over 1,700 applications, Magee said. Magee said part of the impact they wish to make is in helping these entrepreneurial student interns achieve their own goals. Interns are given full authority to work on their own projects.
“We think that if we can really help facilitate—and we’ve spent a lot of time working through that in the last six weeks—the impact that we’re looking to have directly to the people that we work with every single day,” Magee said.
Making sense of “big data”
The implications of NanoVest’s platform could be far reaching for data. Badve said they intend to see if they can disrupt the way that relevant data is presented to people searching for specific things.
“Big data has essentially turned into overwhelming data,” Badve said. “Every year, we’re having the most data that we were ever going to have in the history of the internet. But is that data actually being used toward something productive? In a lot of cases, no, because it’s difficult to find.”
The potential for growth is strong outside of the tech transfer industry for NanoVest, Badve said.
“So while we may be starting in the tech transfer space, and we’re starting small, it’s really to prove a point that if we can solve it for these guys who have to be involved in every part of the market, then we can continue to expand out who we try to reach and who we try to provide the solution to,” Badve said.
When March, 2020, came around, a national tech convention that NanoVest had planned to attend in San Diego was cancelled. While money and time was lost for so many businesses, Magee said the coronavirus pandemic presented an opportunity for the team.
“We doubled down and went back to the product and made the product better,” Magee said. “And in that timeframe, in the next two to three months, we closed additional clients. We realized that our value was even greater.”
Badve said as NanoVest has grown, more and more people have started to approach them.
“We’re realizing that, wait a second, the solution that we’re offering here can help a lot more people,” Badve said. “So in order for us to reach the most amount of people, the company obviously has to grow with it. And that’s exactly what’s happening.”