Six businesses vying for accredited angel investors have been chosen to move on toward the final pitch at the coming fifth annual San Diego Angel Conference on April 22 at the University of San Diego.
Athletiverse, LIMBER Prosthetics & Orthotics, Morari, Pump Spotting, Relavo and Wave Therapeutics were the final half dozen left after an initial total of 106 applicants to SDAC V – all hoping to land at least $200,000 in angel investment or attract investors interested in funding their companies.
Sponsored by C3Bank, the San Diego Angel Conference is a University of San Diego Knauss School of Business and Brink Small Business Development Center program that activates accredited angel investors and engages promising early-stage companies that drive the innovation ecosystem.
In addition to engaging angel investors, the conference provides coaching, education and connections to founders. Each year, the program culminates in a live final funding event.
The conference provides top-tier mentorship, education and resources to startups on the rise. It also provides connections to early-stage companies seeking angel funding, attracting both first-time and experienced angel investors interested in building their investment portfolios.
In four years, SDAC has awarded $4.1 million to 14 startups.
Many of its portfolio companies and applicants have gone on to secure larger funding rounds totaling more than $190 million. With about 100 early-stage companies participating and vying for a share of an investment fund of at least $200,000 each year, SDAC has become one of the largest angel investor programs in the country.
SDAC Founder Mysty Rusk says, “SDAC is focused on activating accredited investors, funding innovative early-stage companies, and supporting solutions that solve real-world problems”
Rusk said she believes that SDAC V is “hitting all the marks.” She also said that “it promises to be a year of significant seed funding for some incredible startups.”
Patrik Schmidle of local startup CARI Health received $350,000 in funding as part of the 2022 conference to continue biochemical scientific studies and electrical engineering development in the creation and production of a remote medication monitoring device geared toward treating opioid addiction.
SDAC V title sponsor C3bank, a business bank headquartered in North County and founded by entrepreneurs and USD alumni, says SDAC is serving a critical service to the innovation economy by finding, vetting, and funding early-stage companies that can potentially disrupt industries and positively impact lives.
C3bank CEO Adam J. (A.J.) Moyer said the financial institution is honored to be supporters of SDAC and its efforts to activate angel investors and mentor founders as well as enable business growth through collaboration and education.
“SDAC V angel investors selected finalists that show potential of a strong return and offer a unique solution that can improve the quality of life for millions,” Moyer said. “With seed funding and the mentoring provided by SDAC, these founders will undoubtedly impact their industries and communities.”
With an active angel investor group of about 90 accredited investors who invest anywhere from $7,000 to $100,000 and more each conference series, SDAC has become one of the largest event-based angel funds nationwide.
SDAC partners with more than 20 organizations in the startup ecosystem.
The connections along with SDAC’s stellar reputation, enable it to attract promising startups and manage a substantial investment fund. SDAC sponsors include USD, C3bank, Mintz, SDSU, First Republic Bank, Coeptus Law, Aquillius, Clearpoint Agency and Univesrsity of California San Diego.
Every year, SDAC applicants must be early-stage companies that have the potential for a 10X return on investment within five years and a management team capable of executing the plan. The application deadline for entrepreneurs was in January. SDAC investors began reviewing deals in February.
Two of this year’s finalists are San Diego County-based startups Athletiverse and LIMBER Prosthetics & Orthotics.
Founded by Dominyck Bullard, Athletiverse (athletiverse.io) helps student-athletes maximize the monetary worth of their name, image, and likeness (NIL) and allows college athletes earn income by posting business advertisements and promotional offerings to their social media feed.
On the other side of the NIL business, Athletiverse’s self-service platform connects companies and brands to college athlete influencers, with a quick turnaround for posts on social media feeds of the student-athletes chosen.
Athletiverse CEO Bullard is himself a collegiate student-athlete. Currently a junior at USD, he transferred from the College of Southern Nevada to attend school and play baseball for the Toreros. His inspiration for Athletiverse came from observing the way small businesses typically support college athletes.
He said the company’s goal is to take small businesses from using Facebook and Google ad campaigns which have low visibility and conversion rates of 1% to 2% and move them into Athletiverse, where engagement rates are anywhere between 10% to 15%.
LIMBER Prosthetics & Orthotics (limberprosthetics.com) was a project started in a structural engineering class at the UCSD taught by professor Falko Kuester, Ph.D students Luca De Vivo and Joshua Pelz, and certified prosthetist and orthotist Herb Barrack.
LIMBER is now a multidisciplinary global project and startup that involves professors, students, engineers, practitioners, philanthropists, entrepreneurs and patients. Its mission is to provide prosthetic and orthotic devices to what its website says are “the nine out of 10 people who are left behind.”