Friday, May 4, 2012

ZINO Alum Cadence Biomedical Closes $1.1MM Round

We're pleased and excited to see that ZINO Society alumnus Brian Glaister has closed a $1.1MM round of A2 financing with the help of several angel groups. Brian presented Cadence to ZINO at last September's ZINO Zillionaire Investment Forum. Cadence's concept is wonderful and innovative--a device that helps people with disabilities walk unaided while increasing leg strength.

I first saw Brian present at a ZINO screening meeting to ZINO's coaching board. I was captivated by the short video in which a woman with a disability that makes her unable to walk takes her first independent steps with the help of Cadence's product, the Kickstart Kinetic Orthosis. The joy and relief experienced by this patient were palpable to the room of coaches watching the presentation.

It's a proud moment for ZINO Society to see our entrepreneur members gaining traction and advancing their products. The Kickstart seems like a product that will transform the lives of people with disabilities. Best of luck, Brian.

Full details from Puget Sound Business Journal here:

Monday, April 9, 2012

Thoughts on Growth

One of the many hidden dangers to early start up success is the need, at some point, to change the way the company is managed. The first stage, sometimes called ‘growth through creativity’ is exhilarating.
          1. Growth through Creativity.
New or revitalized companies often grow through the sheer force of will of founders, owners and key creative staff. The invention of new products or services often forms the springboard for such growth. Rapid market penetration occurs, with some very satisfied customers. If an early exit is planned, it all ends here, and the founders may go on to the next idea. However, early exits are not always possible.
Now problems may appear. In every company, the initial burst of energy [up to five years] is followed by a transition. There may be a renegotiation of who will lead the organization. Partnerships often dissolve at this point. Boards may change the founder/ceo. Although not all companies experience this, most do. Forget the glamour start ups as a role model. Focus on what is most likely and needs to be done. The clarification of roles and responsibilities within the leadership groups is essential now for continued growth.

2. Growth through Direction
With roles and responsibilities clarified, clear goals and objectives replace creative will as the organization’s galvanizing force. New or clarified leadership also energizes investors and increases their confidence. Further growth is possible as company energies are harnessed.
After the next spurt of growth, key employees may eventually tire of the leaders’ vision being the only vision. People with independent vision and technical abilities may leave. They may start their own companies. Western Washington is filled with start-ups that resulted from such departures. Morale may decline in the parent company. 50% staff turnover is common.

3. Growth through Delegation
The organization now invests key staff with more responsibility and the authority to ‘make it happen.’ They do, and new energies are unleashed into the market place. Management now monitors rather than closely directs expansion. This phase in a company is often referred to as ‘the golden age’ because the managerial energies of so many people are now harnessed without the frantic feel of the early days. Many entrepreneurs sell the company BEFORE this phase of dramatic growth occurs. That is often because their skill is in creation. Phase three is all about strategic management. It’s a different skill set. The savvy founder will bring in people at this point with skill sets that he or she may not have.
But wait… as the next Blog will show, yet another crisis looms ahead. Fortunately, we have a solution for that, as well.
In the Sunday NYT, February 5th, just in time for the Super Bowl, John Mara, president of the Giants said, “The franchises that impulsively changes year after don’t succeed in the long run. You have to hire the right people and give them a chance to do their jobs and stay with them.” That summarizes part of Stage 3, and it appears to have carried the day.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Size of Angel Funding Rounds Up

In case you needed another reason to pitch your deal at an upcoming ZINO investment forum...

From INC. Wire today, a new report breaks down angel funding in 2011 - and it looks like good news for startups. The size of median angel funding rounds grew 40% in 2011 to $700,000, according to a report from Silicon Valley Bank. The report covers a sample of 573 angel funding deals, totaling $873.3 million. The hottest sectors for the angel investments studied in 2011 were Internet and healthcare, which together accounted for 58% of investments.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Well Managed and Governed Company is a Good Investment

Kate's note: my colleague Chuck Roxin, Managing Director of ZINO Business Development Services is guest blogging on my site for a few posts. 

"A well managed and governed company is a good investment."

That is the motto of ZINO Business Development Services.  Everyone knows that most start ups are in fact not successful; there may be a debate about the exact percentage, but not the reality. The issue of how to improve the odds of success is critical. To this end investors devote considerable effort to screening, performing due diligence, coaching and mentoring start ups. These activities do in fact improve the odds.  

We’d like to improve the odds even further. ZBDS picks up the story when companies begin to experience traction. By providing continuing assistance with management and operations the company’s growth can be propelled with greater confidence. Strengthening governance processes and decision making will do the same.
ZINO Society, as appropriate for an angel investment organization, focuses on what happens with a company shortly after creation. At ZBDS we’re looking at the entire life cycle, from creation through profitable growth or exit. Join us in this effort, and follow ZBDS blogs to learn more about what we do, how we do it, and why it’s important.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

UW's Fluke Hall Incubator is Open for Business!

UW C4C's Linden Rhoads cuts the ribbon on Fluke Hall
Yesterday UW's Fluke Hall, the new incubator that will be run by the Center for Commercialization officially opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The opening of UW's incubator has been in the works at least since April, when UW's Center for Commercialization took possession and began a remodel. I'm incredibly interested in this undertaking, both as a C4C alumnus and current angel group representative. When I was working in technology project management at C4C, there was an excited buzz about Fluke Hall and all the possibilities. C4C's New Ventures group began lining up fledgling UW companies for wet lab, dry lab and office space months before the opening. I hope the companies with whom I used to work will find an inspired home at Fluke.

In my current role as Dealflow Manager at ZINO, my interest now lies in the impact UW's incubator will have on the companies ZINO funds. I believe our investors will be exposed to even higher quality deals due to the activity at Fluke. The staff at C4C is dedicated to technology commercialization, and clearly UW's President Young expects to see companies spin out of UW in record numbers. Through the support of C4C and President Young, I believe ZINO and other Seattle angel groups will begin to see some outstanding investment opportunities coming straight from UW. I am looking forward to connecting UW companies seeking funding with ZINO's investor group.

Congratulations to my friends at C4C, the UW community and Seattle investors! Fluke Hall is a huge win for all.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Building a Pipeline

Under these rocks I will find the deals I need!
People often ask me where I find the companies who present at ZINO investment forums, and I liken the search to turning over rocks on the beach looking for little crabs. Every rock in my path will be pried up and flipped in my search for fledgling companies. No place is too odd or unlikely to find startups in need of investment capital, key connections and mentoring. We offer these opportunities and connections and more at ZINO, and thus my search is unending.

Some entrepreneurs find me through LinkedIn, ZINO's website or referrals from our members. I am always pleased to hear from interested entrepreneurs who have happened upon ZINO and want more information. Since I consider myself a proactive person (who, in the interest of total honesty, can't leave well enough alone) I often go out hunting for startups seeking funding. I try everything. I attend events of the other major angel groups around Seattle to get my name and face out there. Northwest Entrepreneur Network, which works with early-stage companies has adopted me and won't let their presenting companies leave an event without meeting me first. I go to coffee shops around town and look for people crowded around laptops and surreptitiously listen in on conversations. I stay in touch with my network of researchers, professors and students at UW, with whom I worked closely during my years at UW's Center for Commercialization. When I go to parties, I ask people about their lines of work and if anything sounds even slightly related to investing or entrepreneurial, I get a business card and follow up the next day. I post to LinkedIn and Facebook and respond to all comments, even if they are off topic (any comments are better than no comments!). At educational and networking seminars I will wait for ages to corner a panelist or keynote speaker in an attempt to tap into their knowledge of where the startups are. Connecting with people is my specialty--you could call me a professional networker; it's what I do, and I love it.

The search for startups is challenging and fun. Working the chain of connections to build my pipeline of entrepreneurs is exciting, and I meet many interesting people along the way. We offer many wonderful services and opportunities to entrepreneurs who join ZINO, either as a presenter or just to check us out--from our acclaimed coaching board, to our fun networking events with accredited investors we take wonderful care of our entrepreneurs. In 2012 we will be holding many of our investment forums and social events in the Columbia Tower Club, high above the city. Perhaps from the 75th floor I will be able to spot many new deals to keep my startup pipeline full to bursting!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

ZINO Roundtable Forums: Connecting Ideas with Investors

Clay Young of Inovus Solar
wants to help us skip the power
bill by investing in solar power.
Seattle Sensor Systems,
represented by Tom Skillman has
created food safety testing kits.
We held ZINO's final Roundtable investment forum of 2011 at the impressive Russell Investments Center in its new(ish) Downtown Seattle home, overlooking Puget Sound. ZINO's investor and sponsor members watched pitches from five excellent companies, Inovus Solar, Browsium, G.R. Silicate Nano-Fiber and Carbonate, Lacuna Systems, and Seattle Sensor Systems Corp. I was lucky in that a few of the presenters contacted me after hearing good things about ZINO's angel investments. Another company came from my relationship with my former employer, UW's Center for Commercialization and I picked up another at Tacoma Angel Network's most recent investment meeting. A large part of my role as Dealflow Manager involves scouting out companies to showcase for ZINO's investors, and I'm always pleased to put up high quality deals as I did yesterday. 
Gary Schare's Browsium is
software that improves security
management of browsers and
LOB web apps.
Lacuna Systems is web
performance management
technologies for critical websites,
as presented by Tom Spoonemore.

ZINO's Roundtable Forums showcase three to five companies working in any space. The meetings are typically held over lunch and allow for a ten-minute pitch from each company. Roundtables are an outstanding way for entrepreneurs to network with accredited investors and get exposure for their companies. It's a convivial atmosphere with entrepreneurs and investors sharing lunch, ideas and connections. At ZINO we strive to create a fun, relaxed atmosphere that facilitates conversation and new partnerships between our membership groups.

Dr. Vijay Mathur explains G.R. Silicate
Nano-Fiber and Carbonate's economic,
environmental and energy solutions
using patented silicate nano-fibers
and carbon dioxide capture

We've just finalized ZINO's 2012 investment forum calendar.  Our
next Roundtable meeting will be Tuesday, January 24th at the Columbia Tower Club. I would love for you to join us!