Business

Tech firms make their pitch at Charlotte ‘Demo Day’

Dan Roselli presents to a packed audience at Queen City FinTech’s “Demo Day,” Wednesday.
Dan Roselli presents to a packed audience at Queen City FinTech’s “Demo Day,” Wednesday. restone@charlotteobserver.com

BrandCrowder is just one of the growing number of tech startups that see big growth opportunities in Charlotte.

Though the the equity crowdfunding company is currently located in Birmingham, Mich., executives say they are leaning toward relocating to Charlotte over Manhattan.

“This just might be America’s boom town,” said Ijeoma Onuosa, president and co-founder of the company. He said first and foremost, Charlotte offers a rich, highly educated labor pool but added “you can’t beat the weather, because people will actually want to travel here.”

BrandCrowder was one of 10 digital startups pitching business plans to a group of investors Wednesday at the Fillmore Theater. As part of an intensive startup incubator and accelerator program, these 10 companies are the latest graduating class from Queen City FinTech and RevTech Labs, located at the Packard Place entrepreneurial hub.

Among them were two companies from the Charlotte area: RediPay, which offers a cloud-based application for direct reimbursement in the health care industry, and Thrive GPO, which provides purchasing services to the nonprofit sector.

The 12-week boot camp-style program is designed to help young companies refine their business models and prepare for investment. They gain exposure to Fortune 500 companies and influential mentors. The program’s culmination, called “Demo Day,” doesn’t pick winners and losers. It just seeks investors.

“We really want all of our companies to win,” said Ben Helms, spokesman for QC FinTech.

This year, Demo Day was a part of a larger event: the first annual Next Bank CLT, a financial services technology innovation conference.

In addition to investing in one specific company, about 100 accredited venture capitalists at the event can invest in an index fund, which distributes capital to all 10 companies in the program.

“That’s important because one, we’ve vetted them. Two, you get some diversification of risk in the fact that you’re investing in 10 companies,” said Dan Roselli, co-founder of Packard Place. “And not only do we think it’s a good investment; it’s great to support the community.”

The types of companies in the program this year were almost exclusively in financial services, with a number focused on payment applications.

QC FinTech focused on financial service technology companies to “harness Charlotte’s status as a financial service hub of the world,” according to Helms.

This year’s class was the most competitive yet, he said. The program received over 150 applications, yielding just a 7 percent acceptance rate. Companies came from nine states stretching from California to Massachusetts.

“We’ve been able to plug into the ecosystem and meet folks around the country,” said Mark Gulley, president and CEO of local startup RediPay. “We’ve been able to leverage the entire Charlotte community … (with) a huge financial ecosystem here and a ton of potential customers.”

Rachel Stone: 704-358-5334, @RStone1317

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