A Purdue Research Park-based company has won a $50,000 investment from the Village Capital/VentureWell accelerator program in Louisville. Spensa Technologies developed a system allowing farmers to track pest control through a computer, tablet or smart phone. During an interview earlier this year on Inside INdiana Business Television, President Johnny Park explains how the technology would replace current techniques. We featured the company earlier this year in our Indiana Connections e-newsletter.
You can view that report by clicking here.
September 26, 2013
LOUISVILLE, Ky.–September 25, 2013–Village Capital and the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) announced today that two ventures were selected by their peers in the Village Capital VentureWell startup accelerator. Solar Site Design and Spensa Technologies each received $50,000 to advance their clean tech and agriculture ventures. The investments will allow the startups to further develop products to assist in the planning of solar power projects and improve pest control management for farmers.
The announcement, made at IdeaFestival, is the culmination of the three-month Village Capital VentureWell accelerator program, which brings together high-potential startup ventures to address major problems facing America's future, in cities best suited to support these solutions. Village Capital VentureWell is a joint initiative of Village Capital and the VentureWell program of NCIIA, which uses Village Capital's peer-selection model and the expertise of VentureWell's parent organization, NCIIA, in training technology-based entrepreneurs to position them for growth and success.
The nine entrepreneurial ventures participating in the Louisville accelerator are tackling some of the world's most pressing agriculture, energy and environmental concerns. During a Venture Forum yesterday at IdeaFestival, each team presented its innovation to their peers and members of the Louisville entrepreneurial, investment and academic community.
Solar Site Design, founded by Jason and Samantha Loyet, is a collaborative, cloud-based content management platform that offers a complete project development solution for solar professionals, accessible via a smart phone app. The company's mission is to offer the Solar Site Design information technology platform to solar professionals worldwide.
“Participating in the Village Capital VentureWell–Louisville program has propelled Solar Site Design to the next level,” said Samantha Loyet, creative director at Solar Site Design. “We started the program having gained some traction, and have now pivoted into our full-steam-ahead approach created with the help of their tremendous team. The program offered us an insightful customer forum and access to key decision makers and investors that we would not have met otherwise.”
Spensa Technologies, represented by Kim Nicholson, Johnny Park and Ben Brame, developed the Z-Trap–a cost-effective pest management solution for commercial orchards, which automates the labor-intensive and error-prone insect monitoring process, enabling farmers to track their fields' pest population in real time via a computer, tablet or smart phone.
“Village Capital VentureWell has really helped the Spensa team refine our message to both investors and potential customers,” said Johnny Park, founder and CEO of Spensa Technologies. “Their instructors reminded us again and again of the value of talking to customers and refining your plans and product based on real feedback. The coaching and advice on everything from financial strategies to market definition to media communication has been first class.”
Other startups that participated in the Venture Forum include: NOHMs Technologies, Re-Nuble, RemoteCycle, Shellfish Solutions, SmartFarm Solutions, Totus Power and Tule Technologies.
Louisville was selected by Village Capital VentureWell as the site of its clean tech and agriculture accelerator over traditional entrepreneurial hotbeds like Silicon Valley, New York or Boston because of the importance of agriculture to the region, the city's logistical and energy expertise, and the intellectual and human capital of the region's entrepreneurs, investors and universities. These factors make Louisville an ideal location to address problems related to energy and food.
All startup teams participating in the Louisville accelerator focused on agriculture and clean tech, but tackled different problems within that sector, allowing them to work together as collaborators rather than competitors.
The Village Capital accelerator program is unique because rather than asking investors, analysts or judging panels to decide which innovations are worth funding, the entrepreneurs themselves select which among them are most deserving of the investment. Over the course of the program, all teams rank each other three times based on criteria such as team, product, customers, financials and return on capital. The teams' final rankings at the end of the program determine which two teams receive the funding.
“We offer our congratulations to the two peer-selected ventures, and wish all of the participating entrepreneurs the best of luck as they further develop their ventures to tackle these important global issues,” said Ross Baird, executive director of Village Capital. “The progress and ingenuity we've seen from each of these teams throughout the accelerator reinforces that the Village Capital model is working.”
To date, 90 percent of companies in Village Capital programs are still in business compared to 75 percent in traditional accelerator programs that do not use the peer-selection model. The Village Capital model also demonstrates capital efficiency, with three times as many investments made or as much capital deployed with the same level of expenses as a comparable investment fund. Village Capital has delivered 20 of its unique peer-selection accelerator programs in countries around the world, including India, Kenya and Brazil.
In the U.S., Village Capital has partnered with NCIIA's VentureWell program, a venture development and investor readiness program, intended to help innovators and entrepreneurs develop their businesses to the point where they can secure their first formal round of financing. The VentureWell program provides training to startups through a series of intensive workshops and webinars.
“For many innovators, breaking into the business and investment world can be a daunting challenge,” said NCIIA Executive Director Phil Weilerstein. “We're confident that these talented teams have acquired the skills to translate their ventures into successful enterprises that benefit society and the environment.”
Louisville hosted the second accelerator formed by a collaboration between Village Capital and VentureWell's. Their first collaborative program was held in Boston earlier this year and focused on clean tech in both the U.S. and emerging markets. Plans are in the works to host an accelerator program for health-related ventures.
The Village Capital VentureWell accelerator in Louisville was supported by a wide range of investors and philanthropists, including Blue Sky Network, Invested Development, Radicle Capital, Sorenson Global Impact Investing Center, Stiefel Family Foundation, Sustainable America, Stephen Reily and Emily Bingham and, through their support of NCIIA, The Lemelson Foundation.
About Village Capital:
Village Capital has served over 350 ventures worldwide, building disruptive innovations in energy, environmental sustainability, agriculture, health, and education. Village Capital has launched 20 programs in 6 countries to-date and made 30 peer-selected investments. Participant enterprises have raised more than $40 million in follow on funding t