Am I Really a Shark?

by | Sep 25, 2015 | Entrepreneurship |

Last month, AboutOne was in the early adoption phase of our new Family Calendar powered by AboutOne app. When looking for early adopters, we often find that attendees at startup events are a great source of feedback, so I was especially pleased to agree to be a judge in the ABQid/NMTC Scrappy Startups Pitch Challenge in May. It was also a fun surprise to see that we were on the local news on the night of the event.

This competition uses a Shark Tank/American Idol-style format and the judges see around 8-10 companies pitch before voting. Prizes ranged from an ABQid Accelerator spot with $20k in financing to a fully funded trip to the Las Vegas SXSW V2V conference in July. (The judges also had to offer an in-kind prize, and in a future blog post, I will describe the mentoring session I provided.)

The ABQid Accelerator is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and is a charter member of the Global Accelerator Network. This non-profit organization runs the Accelerator with investments coming from a for-profit seed fund that we are raising locally. The pitch event was part of their final recruiting activities for the second Accelerator class.

The judges gave feedback on the following companies:

As Girls Grow

This company’s goal is to help parents foster an interest in science and engineering in the daughters. Their clever approach includes using comic strip characters to present a series of engineering challenges for girls to solve.

As Girls Grow won a mentoring session in Philadelphia with Tracey Welson-Rossman (Founder of TechGirlz) and Jane Hoffer (COO of littleBits).


This startup is building an app that allows consumers to point their mobile devices at brands and logos in order to view their favorite brands’ information and instantly participate in loyalty programs. It allows brands to push dynamic apps selections to consumers based on location or other criteria.  They already have a multi-year national customer, which is very exciting.

Disease Morph

This was actually my mum’s favorite company. They have an app that is used as a teaching tool by health professionals and lay people across the globe to encourage vaccinations. The company also believes their app can be useful for disease diagnosis as well.


This company analyzes the genetic material of horses to provide horse owners with information about their health, performance traits, and breeding.  Equiseq already has a pilot “race horse”.

Hotel Upgrade

Another favorite of mine, Hotel Upgrade allows you to automatically receive upgrades as well as additional bonus points that can be used for Wi-Fi, food, drinks, club access, etc.  They provide hotels with a reduced guest acquisition cost, and for consumers like me that stay in hotels, an improved and upgraded experience, which is always nice.


InnoBright provides a software framework called Altus that reduces rendering costs for animation studios, commercial visual effects, gaming and CAD/CAM, architect and engineering processes.  Their pilot program proves a 54% reduction in rendering costs. Coming from a PLM background, this space was interesting to me because the market opportunity is so large (currently at $2B per year in the US alone).  InnoBright was also interesting because I am a fan of Steve Blank and they have already completed his lean launchpad program with a focus on customer validation.


They “combine the visual appeal of Pinterest with the practical budgeting of”. This Pinterest-type tool not only pins items but also creates a budget based on the actual price of the items. I have already used this multiple times to budget for a bedroom refurbishment and a living room redecoration.  ItSums won one of the prizes to go to SXSW and an additional prize of a personalized program. ItSums was a graduate of the ABQid Accelerator Program.

mPower Technology Inc.

I have less experience in this space but was blown away by the progress of this company. They offer low-cost solutions for wirelessly recharging battery-operated devices.  The product was fabricated in the Sandia National Laboratories and has more than 40 file patents. After more than 7 years of hard work, they have developed a flexible solar power film that is more flexible, has more power, and is two to three times more efficient than current products. They have received too many awards to list here!


Newscastic is redefining local news. This company provides a marketplace that buys, sells, requests news stories.  Journalists can get paid for their stories and businesses can request stories, grow their social media presence, or run specific campaigns on news content.


This company made me wish I had a solar technical background! This new type of plug allows users (families, companies, anyone) to access solar energy through the electric grid. BRILLIANT! Users pay only for that they use – without the hassle of a commitment. I don’t think I need to say anything else about this except that as a consumer, I want it!

Tall Foods

I found this to be one of the most unusual start-ups at the event because they raise, process, and distribute ostrich meat. I have never tasted ostrich meat but now I am intrigued! It’s a red meat and is considered to be equal to or better than the best beef and steak products.

In summary, I loved being a shark. I worked hard to prepare and tried to make my feedback something that could drive a transaction to help each company.  We’ve already brought As Girls Grow to Philadelphia for their mentor session, but more about that in a different blog.