A Startup Story

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Meet Genevolve Vision Diagnostics

This is the first article in a continuing monthly series that will chronicle the growth path of Genevolve Vision Diagnostics, a life sciences startup based in Albuquerque, NM that is commercializing cutting edge genetic research to develop new diagnostic tests and gene therapies for colour blindness.

By Francis Moran and Leo Valiquette

When a startup’s underlying intellectual property has already been hailed by Time Magazine as one of the year’s top 10 scientific discoveries, it may foster the perception that the road to commercial success is already assured. But president and CEO Matt Lemelin and the team at Genevolve Vision Diagnostics have learned that a great discovery is only the beginning of a long and challenging journey.

“We are creating a new market with an advanced technology that many said was not possible,” Lemelin said. “We’ve been labeled as pioneers, a term that concerns me ever since I heard a seasoned veteran state ‘pioneers get slaughtered, settlers prosper.’”

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The fine art of the business hustle

This is the second article in a continuing monthly series chronicling the growth path of CommentAir Technologies, a startup based in Ottawa, Canada. CommentAir is developing a wireless technology fans can use at sports venues to receive the same real-time commentary as fans watching from their televisions, a wireless technology that also creates a platform for targeted consumer interaction. We invite your feedback.

By Francis Moran and Leo Valiquette

For a pre-revenue startup that is bootstrapping its way to market, incurring the cost to travel to another city to attend an industry trade conference with an admission price of $1,000 may appear to be an expensive endeavour. For Katie and Luke Hrycak, sibling co-founders of CommentAir Technologies, it’s the kind of opportunity they can’t afford to let slip by.

The 2011 Sports Management Conference and Trade Show, taking place in Toronto on Nov. 14 and 15, features dozens of speakers from the senior ranks of professional sports from across North America, from team owners and league commissioners, to broadcasters and professional services which cater to the industry. It is the very sort of high-profile event they need to draw attention to CommentAir’s programmable earpiece technology.

“I‘m raising the money to attend at least one day and track down the people that I want to talk to,” said Katie. “This also requires a lot of research for knowing faces of those individuals so that I have a game plan walking in.”

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Telling the right story to drive customer acquisition

This is the second article in a continuing monthly series that will chronicle the growth path of Screenreach Interactive, a startup based in Newcastle upon Tyne in England’s North East. Screenreach’s flagship product, Screach, is an interactive digital media platform that allows users to create real-time, two-way interactive experiences between a smart device (through the Screach app) and any content, on any screen or just within the mobile device itself. We invite your feedback.

By Francis Moran and Leo Valiquette

When we caught up with Screenreach Interactive founder and CEO Paul Rawlings last week, he was in the midst of packing for a trip to New York, where he was booked as a panellist for the Digital Signage Investor Conference.

Digital signage, a so-called form of “out-of-home advertising,” delivers video content, advertisements and messages to specific locations at specific times on static or touch screens, often in combination with movement detection and image capture technology. According to one recent industry forecast, the market is growing at a compound annual rate of 40 percent, with 22 million digital signs expected to be deployed world-wide by 2015.

For Screenreach, it’s an industry ripe for the Screach app.

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Meet CommentAir Technologies

This is the first article in a continuing monthly series that will chronicle the growth path of CommentAir Technologies, a startup based in Ottawa, Canada. CommentAir is developing a wireless technology fans can use at sports venues to receive the same real-time commentary as fans watching from their televisions, a wireless technology that also creates a platform for targeted consumer interaction. We invite your feedback.

By Francis Moran and Leo Valiquette

Siblings Katie and Luke Hrycak are in that category of entrepreneurs who could be called reluctant innovators. They found themselves in the midst of a problem they felt compelled to solve.

That problem was the quality of the experience in attending a major sporting event live versus watching it on television. They both found themselves dissatisfied with the experience of attending NHL games and UFC matches. Why? Because fans at the event can’t hear the live commentary.

“The question became ‘Why don’t fans have the commentary at the game?’” said Luke. “Can’t we combine both the audio and visual experience of sports? We believed that fans want and need a special feature that will enhance whichever sport they enjoy most.”

But neither Katie nor Luke had an engineering background. They were starting at zero in terms of having a product design, startup capital and any kind of market validation beyond their own fan experience and that of their friends.

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Meet Screenreach Interactive

This is the first article in a continuing monthly series that will chronicle the growth path of Screenreach Interactive, a startup based in Newcastle upon Tyne in England’s North East. Screenreach’s flagship product, Screach, is an interactive digital media platform that allows users to create real-time, two-way interactive experiences between a smart device (through the Screach app) and any content, on any screen or just within the mobile device itself. We invite your feedback.

By Francis Moran and Leo Valiquette

We first encountered Screenreach Interactive and its founder, Paul Rawlings, several months ago when we featured Jon Bradford, the man behind U.K. startup accelerators The Difference Engine and Springboard.

Rawlings and Screenreach completed the first cycle of The Difference Engine’s 13-week program in 2010. When we asked Bradford for an example of a successful graduate from that program, he was quick to sing Rawlings’ praises.

“He was not proprietary about his ideas, he was very open to new suggestions, new directions and wasn’t wedded to, ‘Look, this is what I’m doing and I’m not going to listen to anybody else,’” Bradford said.

“I think having an open mind, being able to listen, to react in a positive fashion was probably the making of him. He was also not very selfish about bringing in other team members, making sure he had a good team around him beyond the program itself. One of his mentors (Sam Morton, pictured right in the photo below with Rawlings) became one of his members of staff.”

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