Northwest Entrepreneur Network Showcases Startups in Health Care, Software, Clean Power, Apparel, & Plenty More

4/13/11Follow @curtwoodward

A really interesting variety of startups made their initial pitches to the broader investing crowd yesterday at the Northwest Entrepreneur Network’s First Look Forum. The 12 presenters represented a wide array of sectors, from food to retail to software services and—seriously—nuclear fusion power. “I don’t think we could have imagined a more diverse slate, in every sense of the word, than what we have today,” NWEN executive director Rebecca Lovell said.

The event itself was the culmination of a long coaching process that readies a select group of companies and entrepreneurs for their turn in front of the investor audience. And there’s a real emphasis on showcasing many different kinds of businesses—which is notable in an investing scene (and media landscape) that can seem dominated by techies.

Each of the 12 companies on display had five minutes to give a pitch (with slides), and then five finalists were grilled by a panel of venture capitalist judges: Mark Ashida from OVP Venture Partners, Michelle Goldberg from Ignition Partners, and Bill McAleer from Voyager Capital.

The winner was Guide Analytics, a mobile-connected bracelet and monitoring system that keeps track of edema, a swelling that can lead to hospitalizations, particularly in heart patients. Chief executive Deborah Kessler’s previous work includes time at Rosetta Informatics and NASA—”My advisers tell me I’m supposed to say, ‘I am a rocket scientist,’” she quipped. The device itself boasts low manufacturing costs, even though it has a battery, transmitters, and sensors. Investors did question whether relying on elderly heart patients to have a new smartphone for transmitting critical medical data was asking too much. Kessler said it was possible, however, to work with patients who have a lower-end cell phone. The company won a year of free office space from Martin Selig Real Estate.

I put together these snapshots from the four other finalists, and you can check out the longer list of participants over at NWEN.

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Curt Woodward is a senior editor for Xconomy based in Boston. Email: cwoodward@xconomy.com Follow @curtwoodward

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