Thursday, November 17, 2011

And the ZINO Marketplace $50K Fund Finalists Are...

(L to R) Dean Lester of Vizua, Robin Elenga of Revel Body, Dave Owen of Proz, Inc. & John Baker of Thos. Baker

I am thrilled and proud to announce the four ZINO Marketplace company finalists for the 2011 ZINO Annual Angel Investment Fund Forums $50K fund: Vizua, Revel Body, Proz, Inc. and Thos. Baker. Each company presented a five-minute pitch at Tuesday night's ZINO Marketplace showcase of consumer products and services investment forum, along with nine others. We were lucky enough to secure Bellevue City Hall Council Chambers; an intimate and lovely space for ZINO Marketplace. The venue features a concourse with an exquisitely beautiful floor inlay that evokes a flowing river--could not take my eyes off it (awkward!). Each entrepreneur had an exhibition table on which to display their wares. The concourse was abuzz with conversation and connection as company teams shared their ideas and products with accredited investors, other entrepreneurs and ZINO sponsor members.

And what a motley crew of companies we watched pitch! We saw a new kitchen gadget from CookBright that will eliminate the need for cookbooks. A throwback "low-tech" sports gaming product was presented by Ballpark Classics, Inc. Her Interactive has created Nancy Drew-themed computer games to inspire girl gamers. Childhood obesity will be fought using FoodNMe's cool phone apps that help kids make healthier food choices. CommutePays wants to pay you for getting stuck in traffic with its predictive route guidance and rewards. We'll all have a "concierge in our pocket" with EZgoer's hotel and services phone app. Burro will empower low income families to do more in their lives. Truffles and trees will live in beautiful symbiosis through Symbios' product leveraging. Global Index Group builds financial indexes for use in Exchange Traded Funds. Checking out each company's display and hearing their pitch made me realize what a wide world consumer products and services truly is, and what magnificent ideas are out there in development.

I worked with each company from applying to ZINO Society to the day of the event and I am incredibly impressed with the improvements they all made over the course of a few short weeks. I have our outstanding coaching board to thank for that. ZINO has a group of 50 coach members who generously volunteer their time and expertise to mentor ZINO entrepreneurs through the pitching process. They are a phenomenal group of individuals who help companies tighten their pitches and make them more attractive to angel investors, as well as boost their self-confidence. One of my favorite parts of being Dealflow Manager at ZINO is being the conduit between coaches and companies. I love helping people connect with one another.

As for our fund finalists, they will go through the due diligence process with our fund investors and one company will be chosen to receive the $50K investment. Our fund investors will have to find a way to choose between Revel Body's high performance vibration motors that will revolutionize the sex toy industry, the eBay for private instruction Proz Inc. has developed, Thos. Baker's extensive online and catalog collection of premium furniture, or Vizua's 3-D scan reconstruction service that helps non-medical professionals understand their scan images. Who would you choose? 

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