Dartmouth Angels connects accredited investors and founders from within the Dartmouth community. On Tuesday, four teams presented their pitches to a panel of investors.
Efficiency was the name of the game at the Dartmouth Angels Startup Showcase, held remotely on Tuesday as part of the virtual Dartmouth Entrepreneurs Forum. Four Dartmouth startups pitched their businesses, which included a platform for more productive time management, better commercial heating systems, improved supply chains and even a new porta potty with the potential to repurpose waste.
The founders presented to accredited investors who are part of Dartmouth Angels, a network of investors committed to providing research and mentorship to Dartmouth startups.
A Successful Exit
The event came as the network was celebrating its first successful return on investment. Trusst, a text-based mental health care platform founded by Dartmouth professor Bill Hudenko, was acquired in June by KHealth, Inc.
Hudenko spoke with the audience about how investment from Dartmouth Angels helped him launch the company, which he founded in 2019.
“It was a great opportunity to get funding when we were in our early stage,” Hudenko said.
Hudenko credited Trusst’s success to both strategic moves and great timing. Trusst was an established leader in text-based mental health care at the beginning of the pandemic, when more and more companies were expressing an interest in remote healthcare.
During that time, Hudenko watched as the Magnuson Center and Dartmouth Angels strengthened the entrepreneurial environment on campus.
“The Dartmouth community has grown and transformed since I started as an entrepreneur,” said Hudenko. “Dartmouth Angels is now a viable source of funding for companies that have Dartmouth ties, and the network offers a lot of support in this new ecosystem.”
Innovations In Waste Management Capture Investors, Audience
Waste*d, a company aimed at revolutionizing sanitation and harnessing the potential of human waste, captured the attention of audience members and Dartmouth Angels. The company won two $2,500 prizes, one for audience favorite and one for the investors’ choice.
Co-founder Brophy Tyree D’18, shared Waste*d’s plan for changing the sanitation industry. That approach begins with a portable toilet that provides a cleaner, more streamlined and generally more pleasant experience than the Porta Johns that most people are familiar with.
The Waste*d system keeps solid and liquid waste separate. This is based on the idea that combining solid and liquid waste creates a sludge that is more energy-intensive to treat. By keeping the waste separate, Waste*d is able to harvest the urine and convert it to fertilizer, generating a revenue stream. Eventually, the company plans to harness solid waste for fuel, Tyree explained.
Presenters Push Better Systems
The other three startups that presented also aimed at improving existing systems.
Bundle, a one-stop shop for building material procurement, took second place for audience choice. The app, co-founded by Janna Colucci D’14 and Edison Ding, matches construction professionals and suppliers, in order to streamline the supply chain, with a particular focus on reducing lead times. Colucci explained that since the pandemic, more and more suppliers are pushing e-commerce, making now the perfect time for Bundle to help confront the fact that 98% of construction jobs finish over time and over budget.
Travis Kuster D’15 pitched his company, Frio. The business provides smart controllers for industrial heating applications: think of it as a Nest thermostat for industrial heaters, Kuster explained. Frio controllers aim to improve the reliability of commercial heating systems, while reducing energy costs for those systems.
The panelists and audience also heard from Omar ElNaggar D’07, who co-founded Mana along with Ioan Moldovan. Mana provides ethical time mining to boost productivity from employees, while helping them better understand how to manage their time in order to avoid burnout.
These teams represented just a sampling of the startups thriving in the Dartmouth community, led by the Magnuson Center. Dartmouth Angel Mark Bernfeld D’78 caught the energy of the showcase event: “It’s tremendous fun to be an angel investor,” he said. "You get to see the greatest companies around, and Dartmouth companies are always exciting.”
The next events for the Dartmouth Entrepreneurs Forum take place Friday, Sept. 24.