Michael Ollukaren, one of the founders of Flexspark, a participant in this year’s ZeroTo510 accelerator, sees a lot of his company in SweetBio, an alumni of last year’s accelerator.
Ollukaren and Flexspark cofounders Syed Hasnain and Chidozie Ugwumadu attended the 2016 Southeastern Medical Device Association Conference (SEMDA) this week in Nashville.
“Last year, [SweetBio] didn’t have a lot of experience, but they were here,” Ollukaren says. “We’re in a similar place.”
During the 2015 SEMDA conference, SweetBio participated in PitchRounds, a sort of speed dating between investors and small companies. SweetBio didn’t generate any investment through the event, but the company did get feedback that its founders used to build the company, complete the 2015 ZeroTo510 cohort and raise $1 million in funding by the end of the year.
Isaac Rodriguez, CEO and co-founder of SweetBio, said this year’s return trip to SEMDA was about showing what the company has accomplished over the last year and letting potential future investors know what SweetBio is capable of.
“People are starting to know who we are, even if they don’t know exactly what we do,” Rodriguez said. “We understand what they want to hear and we pitch that up front.”
Kayla Rodriguez, COO and co-founder of SweetBio, said while the company has made great strides since last year’s conference, they still have a long way to go and have a lot of questions to answer from potential investors. But, this year, it was a lot more real.
“I think we’ll be more challenged this year than last year,” Kayla Rodriguezsaid. “This year, their money is on the table. We need to listen to them because it’s getting real.”
But she was also encouraged by the presence of ZeroTo510 companies like Flexspark.
“They’re being bold,” she said. “We chose to move to Memphis and we chose to be in ZeroTo510, so we’ll stand up for the whole thing. It’s wonderful justification for what we did.”
Flexspark is developing a wearable electrical muscle stimulation device to decrease muscle atrophy during lengthy hospital stays.