February 22, 2007
Technology Ventures Summit: Tech start-ups present ideas
By ROBERT EVATT World Staff Writer
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A dozen firms make pitches at the two-day ventures conference.
Ideas ranging from potential cancer treatments to new methods of erecting highway signs were presented Wednesday when 12 fledgling companies took the stage at the first Technology Ventures Summit.
The second part of the two-day summit, co-hosted by the Oklahoma Capital Investment Board and Oklahoma Equity Partners at the Doubletree Hotel Downtown, turned the focus from advice for budding entrepreneurs to presentations by young Oklahoma companies that have created technologies.
Along the way, the companies hoped to attract the attention of the two dozen "angel" investors in attendance in the hopes of making their ideas reality.
Dave Humphrey, president of OEP, said the dozen ideas could grow into strong enterprises that strengthen the state.
"These companies are at an earlier stage than we've seen before, so the people in the audience need a vision to see their potential," he said.
PJ Bennett, CEO of Actioncam of Tulsa, said he was glad that he could make his company's pitch before so many investors.
"Opportunities like this are very rare," he said. "We've never had the chance to present this to such a large crowd."
Bennett detailed his plans for remote-controlled aerial cameras that would be an improvement over the wire-mounted cameras used at sporting events.
"The current systems don't give a stable shot, and directors aren't confident with it, so it typically is just used for instant replays," he said.
After the presentation, Bennett said he was optimistic that the summit could help him get Actioncam off the ground.
"Even if the investors aren't interested, they'll get our name out into the network," he said.
William Paiva, manager of the Oklahoma Life Sciences Fund and a prospective investor, said he was impressed with the companies that presented Wednesday.
"The organizers have done a great job of screening them and finding the ones with the highest potential," he said.
Paiva said he plans to talk further with several of the companies to determine who should receive funding.
Mayor Kathy Taylor reminded the 130 people in attendance of the importance of taking a chance on an unproven concept, since the first settlers in Oklahoma did the same thing.
"In Oklahoma, we need to leverage our history, which is a history of risk-taking," she said.
The ideas presented included a series of blinds over windows and skylights that move with the sun to maximize light and minimize glare. Brooks Hull of SOL Inc., a Norman company, said he hopes large retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will use the company's idea.
"In large buildings, we waste $30 billion in energy costs nationwide," he said. "Energy is the single-biggest expenditure for big box stores after payroll."
Bill Shepherd of Secure Piers LLC of Oklahoma City said his method of screwing posts for signs and lights into the ground, dubbed the Helipost, is faster and cheaper than digging a hole for a large concrete footing.
"With the Helipost, there's no waiting," he said. "You just screw it into the ground."
He said that, during a test, Oklahoma Department of Transportation workers spent 10 man-hours installing a highway sign using Secure Piers' method, compared with 40 for a similar sign installed with concrete.
Larry Kennedy of Onconos in Norman said his company is developing a cancer treatment that is less invasive than chemotherapy.
Clinical trials have shown that Onconos' treatment can reverse the development of cancer cells in rats, Kennedy said. The company hopes to begin trials on humans soon.
Another company with a medical aim, JK Autoimmunity of Oklahoma City, is developing a more efficient method of analyzing DNA for scientific research, said company representative Beth Cobb.
"We can find genes via this technology, and we can do it at a great cost savings," she said.
Cobb said the company is currently tied to the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, and that funding would allow those involved to devote themselves to the project full time.
Blackwell Plastic Solutions of Blackwell hopes to create telescoping, removable window covers for use in areas prone to hurricanes, said company representative Kevin Mattal.
The idea is new, but its execution lies in old materials -- the covers would be manufactured from recycled plastic and tires.
"Our recycled material gives us a 50 percent cost advantage over new material," Mattal said.
Robert Evatt 581-8447
Related Photos & Graphics
Joel Dyer and Kevin Mattal of Blackwell Plastic Solutions display the company's Coastal Covers product Wednesday at the two-day Technology Ventures Summit.
TOM GILBERT / Tulsa World
TOM GILBERT / Tulsa World