By Megan Anderle, Editor and Contributing Writer
Dell hosted its third annual Founders 50 Summit in San Francisco April 22-24, bringing together a diverse group of startup CEOs, VC firms, top startup organizations and Dell executives for the opportunity to network.
Entrepreneurs heard from a number of presenters, including Elizabeth Gore, Dell’s entrepreneur in residence, who previously worked with the United Nations and the UN Foundation to support innovation and entrepreneurial thinking. Marisela Salayandia, of North American government affairs at Dell, discussed the hurdles young companies face from a policy standpoint. Dell CMO Karen Quintos talked about how to innovate and prepare the business for the future.
Startups from all kinds of industries attended, including Mindaptiv, which turns devices into Semantic Intelligence machines; Appistry, which helps healthcare institutions capitalize on their genomics data; ACTNano which uses nanotechnology to protects electronics from water damage, and Switch Automation, which provides automation solutions for homes, apartments and commercial buildings.
Founders seemed pleased to have the chance to interact with business owners from far-flung sectors that they wouldn’t connect with ordinarily.
“You meet lots of CEOs in very different spaces and have the chance to exchange notes and take away leanings about how they’re tackling similar challenges, as well as their opportunities to come back and be more effective,” said Carol Politi, president and CEO of TRX Systems, which deliverslocation and mapping indoors, underground and in dense urban areas.
Power More caught up with three startup founders, including Politi, on April 23 to learn about their entrepreneurial journey and find out how they were enjoying the event.
Politi’s company developed NEON, which delivers accurate 3-D indoor location through the use of advanced sensor fusion, ranging and dynamic mapping algorithms. The product is primarily used by members of the military, law enforcement officers and firefighters who need situational awareness and mapping in places where a GPS won’t work.
“We initially created the product to safeguard firefighters indoors who are in extreme environments they can’t control, so we could locate where they are in real time,” Politi said.
The indoor location software can be embedded in mobile devices as well as third-party custom sensor devices. The National Science Foundation, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the U.S. Army and the Department of Homeland Security have supported the startup.
This year, the company is launching its software as a service, as a number of smart devices already have the sensors needed for location mapping but lack the software needed for location tracking.
Politi explained the benefits of participating in Founders 50.
“Dell is lending its expertise and knowledge base,” she said. “Only a handful of startups will end up working with Dell, but many of us tap the advisory team.”
Meanwhile, Resonate, an online advertising and analytics firm, decided to attend the Founders 50 event after its positive experience with Dell.
“We were in a crunch and needed 20 servers and in eight weeks,” said Andy Hunn, founder and chief operating officer at Resonate. “We went to Dell and said we needed [your] help — we can’t have data pouring out the sides of the bucket. Within eight days, we got the servers deployed and were very impressed.”
Hunn added, “Dell is making an effort to understand the problems of folks like us.”
Founded in 2008, Resonate uses data science to deliver relevant messages to target audiences for political campaigners and advocacy organizations.
Hunn said he’s excited for what the future holds for Resonate.
“There’s lots of change going on,” he said. “Software-as-a-service models are taking over. Resonate will see growth like the rest of this area.”
World Inter-Med’s platform enables doctors to submit insurance claims and maintain a complete record of patients’ medical records, which patients can access as well. The cloud-based platform boosts the performance and accessibility of patient electronic health records without jeopardizing security or the need for costly specialized hardware.
The goal is to reduce insurance fraud. Dell made a custom tablet for World Inter-Med that has a smart card reader and fingerprint scanner. When doctors are ready to see patients, they can unlock it using a patient’s smart card and thumbprint.
“This verification prevents doctors from going back in to the record after the appointment and saying he did all these procedures when he didn’t,” said Barry Bestpitch, CEO and chairman of World Inter-Med.
World Inter-Med partnered with Nuance, which makes voice-recognition software for health care companies. As doctors are talking to patients, the software automatically transcribes the conversation. Patients can go back and find out what doctors said, and doctors don’t have to spend hours transcribing appointments and remembering what they tell every patient they see.
“We’re saving doctors a lot of time,” Bestpitch said. “Doctors work 120-hour weeks. They see patient for 20 to 30 hours a week. The rest is paperwork, transcribing and medical records.”
So what made Bestpitch decide to participate in Founders 50?
“With a big company like Dell, they have access to legal teams, marketing teams and lots of other resources that we don’t have,” he said.
Otherwise, Bestpitch would have to “put on 16 different hats,” he said.
Founders 50 has been a positive experience for Bestpitch.
“I’ve made a lot of great contacts here and love the mindset of bringing 50 very different companies together to talk about the challenges they’re up against and collaborate,” he added.