Tallwave’s High Tide Finalist Event Names AZ’s Top 6

Written by on March 13, 2013 in News - No comments

DIRTT Environmental Solutions was filled with some of the best entrepreneurs in Arizona. The sustainable interior builder, DIRTT, (which stands for Do It Right This Time) played host to Tallwave’s High Tide Finalist Event. The venture development firm held a startup competition that brought in 100 applications for businesses that varied from medication exchange to a fitness-based mobile app. The competition had already been narrowed down to 20 semifinalists, and on Wednesday, that group would shrink to six finalists.

The event was put on to continue the competition, but also recognize the entrepreneurial spirit within the competitors and various community members in the audience.

“We’ve got a lot going on in Arizona, but some of it is very fragmented and we need to continue to build an engine, a commercialization engine, and support that with all the community members that are here,” Jeff Pruitt, founding member and CEO of Tallwave, said while addressing the audience.

The 20 semifinalists have already participated in a six-week program where they received analysis from Tallwave and began addressing potential problems in their business plans to help move their business forward.

After going through this process, Tallwave had to make the very tough decision of choosing six finalists. Below are the final six companies, along with some thoughts from the brains behind these companies:

Anand Shukla ExchangeMeds

Anand Shukla

On his company:

“It’s an online marketplace that allows pharmacies to find prescriptions in short supply and trade excess inventory before it expires. I’m a pharmacist with more than 18 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry and I have seen these issues and the wastage of meds in the pharmacy setting and just being frustrated with that issue, I started the company about four years ago. Right now we have about 20 paying clients in the state of Colorado. We launched a hospital platform about four months ago, in December. So we already have a revenue generating independent pharmacy marketplace, but we just launched a hospital beta, and we are growing our beta clients right now.”

On facing adversity creating this business:

“There are challenges every step of the way. It’s getting the concept, to the market, getting the proper accreditation, capital is a huge one, resources, you are very limited in resources if you’re starting up a company and if you really don’t have a lot of money to pay to people, recruiting people to work for you without really having any cash, compensation at the end of the day is extremely difficult. You have to really sell your idea not only to your customers, but really sell your idea to people who can help you and build a team. So, it’s probably one of the most difficult things I’ve done in my life is to really bring the company along today. There’s no easy way to do this. You have to go through the painful process and learn every now and then and learn from people who have done that and at the end of the day I think you have to have a personality to really make this happen. You have to have a personality not to quit. You have to have the guts to take a risk. Without risk, there’s no reward.”

Dhruv Patel Convrrt

Dhruv Patel

On his business:

“I’m a user experience designer by trade. So what I do is I create beautiful websites, beautiful landing pages. Landing pages where you’re making a sale or dropping a sale. What we were doing was I was making these awesome, really cool-looking landing pages. What would happen is I would get them designed, I would pass it to the developer to code and everything. From there, what we would do is give it back to the client and the client would be like, “Oh I want this changed, I want that changed.” Usually it would take me to reedit with changes or to pass it along to the developer would be from a day to two days or some times a whole week. Some times if we were both busy, it would take about two weeks and we would have to delay the project and we were losing a lot of clients. We had to find a solution. So we tried out in the marketplace to see what we could find and we couldn’t find anything that was simple enough for our clients to understand because our customer is everything. So we decided let’s just build a tool, from there we built a basic prototype and so on and so forth and expanded. Slowly, people started to understand what we were doing and one of our old clients funded the whole project.”

On the High Tide competition:

“The Tallwave guys did a really good job organizing the events, organizing the whole process. It was a great program at Tallwave. They helped us get the clients or help us understand what real value proposition was and then refine our ideas within a small period of time. Even the one or two meetings that we had with them, it was very beneficial. It’s like they knew how to almost pitch the right idea to the right market kind of thing and that’s what we were lacking, the “go to market” and literally in the last three weeks we have signed up like six bid agencies which is huge for us.”

Brian Houston_Save on Couriers
Brian Houston
About us (From SaveOnCouriers.com):

“We are a Phoenix, AZ based company, dedicated to preserving our state for future generations by finding a better way to deliver your packages. Our state-of-the-art software minimizes driving by always finding the closest possible couriers from a selection of literally hundreds of available couriers, all eager to serve you. Providing options and a world-class experience is the primary focus of SaveOnCouriers.com. By combining the speed and efficiency of the internet with the flexibility and capability of smartphones, SaveOnCouriers.com empowers you to receive faster, more capable service for less money.”

The adversity faced:

“I pivoted on my first day, the first day my idea was shot and I kind of hate the word pivot, I feel more like the compass that (Tallwave gave the finalists), because you’re constantly adjusting your course, your constantly needing to duck and wind and figure out where you need to be next. It kind of goes back to why this has been a great competition with all the help they give, it makes us refocus and realign with where we want to go.”

Greg Lucas_Creative Allies

Greg Lucas
Creative Allies

On Creative Allies:

“Creative Allies started about three years ago and we are now the leading online design community for the entertainment business, so we host contests for large bands, brands, festivals and events to allow artists from around the world to create art and get recognized if they win or their artwork gets sold online on our online store. *Creative Allies clients feature 750 artists, bands, and brands including Eminem, Jack Johnson, Ben & Jerry’s, Farmers Insurance and Toyota.

How Creative Allies came to be:

“(Co-founder) Sean (O’Connell) and I were both in the music business and we saw a huge opportunity to connect creative from around the world with the bands that we work with day in and day out and by building a platform, we could make those introductions at scale and we could allow many many thousands, now tens of thousands, of designers to get exposed through the platform through the brand name of the design of the contest holders.”

Shon Burton Hiring SolvedShon Burton
Hiring Solved

On his business:

The company came about because I recruited for Google, Apple, Cisco, Yahoo!. I had a recruiting company for several years in San Francisco, working on very hard to find talent. The tools recruiters use are about ten years behind. They just haven’t evolved. Through that experience, I decided that I really wanted to make a tool. Something that makes it easier to find talent and that’s what Hiring Solved is, it’s Google for talent. Google makes it easy to find information, but if you try to hire somebody using google to find them, it’s very difficult. That’s what we do.

On the adversity he faced forming the company:

Bootstrapped it myself, really on the heels of my recruiting company. We hired a developer from San Francisco to expand and hire recruiters. We ended up finding a lot of great talent in Arizona, which is a well-kept secret, hired an astro-physist who was wandering around…looking for work. And we couldn’t have done it in San Francisco. We didn’t have the funds and would have never made it. Things like Tallwave and Arizona has been really great to us and has been a community of heavy support for entrepreneurship and it’s helped us every step of the way.

Ryan Naylor Local Work

Image from the Phoenix Business Journal

Ryan Naylor

On his business:

“Localwork.com is a local job board focused on creating an economic ecosystem where we stimulate job activity, businesses, based on hiring local job seekers. We really want to make sure local companies recognize the talent pool in our backyards before looking elsewhere. There’s a lot of economic value to getting our neighbors who are unemployed working again before looking out of our own backyard. We interact a lot with the community, we have a lot of community partners with AZfamily Channel 3, we work with career connectors, a non-profit support system in the mega-churches in the Valley. They get a lot of the jobseekers together in a collaborative support system. We do six job fairs. We bring together 1500-2000 job seekers at each event and our goal is to help employ a few hundred at each event. So it’s all about engaging with events, activities and employers.”

On the company’s inspiration:

“I own an internet marketing firm, and as I was growing that company, I had a challenge finding quality local talent because I didn’t want to spend several hundred dollars on the big national job boards, but I also didn’t want my brand next to a used couch on Craigslist. So it really stemmed from how do I inspire small businesses to recruit hire locally, professionally and affordably.”

The six finalists are awarded $50,000 and Tallwave’s Venture Services will help them address either their Product Market Fit or Go-to-Market strategy challenges. After assessing those, each company will go in front of local investors as well as investors in Silicon Valley before a winner is chosen.

About the Author

Scott Kelly is a 20 year veteran in marketing, sales, training and publicity. He has trained over 1,000 sales people, generated millions of dollars in sales and has taught marketing at the university level in the United States and Europe. As founder and CEO of Black Dog Promotions, Kelly has garnered national media coverage and established large fan bases for many in the sports, entertainment and business communities.

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