Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Entrepreneurs seek funding at showcase

Shortly after a 10-minute pitch describing a medical tourism company that she plans to launch, Dorothy A. Owens was taking questions from a potential investor who wanted to learn more about the concept.
Owens' presentation was among 18 sales pitches that took place at the Tennessee Innovation Conference and Venture Showcase, which wraps up today at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel.

Hosted by the Tennessee Technology Development Corp., the event is designed to connect venture capitalists and angel investors with entrepreneurs who need capital to make their ideas reality or to expand.

"I think the timing in the market is better, the market's starting to grow and come around, people are more familiar with medical tourism, and insurers are actively seeking a solution and looking abroad," said Owens, who will earn an MBA from Vanderbilt University later this week.

She hopes to find $400,000 in financing for her business idea, Constellation Medical Travel.

Other local companies presenting on Monday included Bandbox, which wants to raise $1 million to help musicians and other artists sell independently and directly to fans via their websites. MyWerx, which is expecting a $1.5 million round of financing in August, has a copyright management system.

After their presentations, each speaker got feedback from a panel that included venture capitalists and others with investment backgrounds. More than 300 people attended.

The event continues today with an innovation showcase featuring scientific research with business potential from around the state.

"This is another essential piece of the puzzle to help create 21st-century jobs in Tennessee," said James Stover, director of capital formation with the Tennessee Technology Development Corp., a state-funded economic development agency created as a nonprofit.

Getahn Ward can be reached at 615-726-5968 or gward@tennessean.com.

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