There were eight Tampa Bay startups vying for a chance to be rewarded a $100,000 seed investment from AOL founder Steve Case’s firm Revolution. COI Energy, GuestBox, Immertec, Presence, Pocket Network, The Natural Nipple, Rankminer, and WorldWatch Plus were all required to present a four-minute pitch for a panel that included Case and Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik at the Rise of the Rest competition on May 1.
Only one startup could reign victorious, however, and that was Immertec. The company’s patented virtual reality software makes it possible to train doctors from anywhere in the world in the simplest of exercises to the most complex surgical procedures. This is done by utilizing VR to place surgeons into operating rooms worldwide to observe their counterparts in action.
Erik Maltais, Immertec’s founder and chief executive officer, said his company plans to hire a local software engineer with the investment from ROTR. “I believe there are only humans. Nothing else matters. My idea of success is growing a business around the right humans. The right customers, investors, and employees will make the impossible happen. We will use this money to add a human to our team.”
The seven other local competitors, all revolutionary in their own right, were:
- COI Energy, a platform that connects utilities with commercial and industrial users to drive energy efficiency in buildings, optimize the electric grid, and cut energy costs
- GuestBox, which creates curated boxes of luxury and eco-friendly items for the hospitality industry
- Presence, which makes campus engagement and learning software aimed at increasing student participation and retention rates while analyzing involvement data
- Pocket Network, a platform that makes it easy for software developers to access any blockchain
- The Natural Nipple, a company that produces a fully-customizable bottle nipple which helps make the transition from breast to bottle more seamless
- Rankminer, a predictive analytics firm which uses its patented artificial intelligence platform to analyze voices and emotions to predict outcome, giving call centers data they can use to improve agent-customer interaction, increase revenue, and reduce employee turnover
- WorldWatch Plus, software that researches and gathers data that administrations, nonprofit and media organizations produce about individuals, then delivers said data to clients
Case recognized entrepreneurship is flourishing and startups are celebrating great success in the state of Florida. For the first time in the 12-year history of the tour, Rise of the Rest is spending the majority of its time in one place, the Sunshine State. Prior to stopping in Tampa, the ROTR tour bus visited Orlando and the Space Coast. The rock ‘n’ rollers of the startup investment space, ROTR wasted no time and traveled down I-75 to reward a Miami startup on May 2.
As he does on each of the stops, Case kicked off his time in Tampa visiting innovative startups: The Penny Hoarder, one of the world’s largest personal finance websites with more than 19 million monthly readers; Ablenook, a company making easy-to-assemble modular homes that can be deployed in disaster-relief scenarios; and, Ybor City’s SOFWERX, a prototyping lab designed to bring innovation to soldiers in the battlefield. He also stopped by Vinik’s Embarc Collective innovation hub.