DFJ East Coast Venture Challenge - LIVE BLOGGING

May 15, 2008   

SCROLL DOWN FOR THE WINNER!!!  I'm at the DFJ East Coast Venture Challenge finals. Will be live blogging here.

The 4 finalists are:

  1. Electro-Epi
  2. Widetronix
  3. JetEye
  4. Yan Engines

Going into Electro-Epi's presentation now...


Adam Stanley, CEO, is presenting. His company is a team from Brown University. They make solar panels more efficient.

This is a $3.32 billion market.

EpiFoil is the material they developed. They've licensed it from Brown... not for equity - a strict royalty agreement. Claims they can scale rapidly... but wants to exit in 5 years. Seems a bit soon for a company trying to revolutionize the energy industry.

After getting published in a few trade magazines, they were approached by MIT students working on computer chips, because the existing material they were using cost $200 a sq. cm, while EpiFoil costs $0.06.

More info about Electro-Epi on their website.

Conclusion: Adam nailed this. Great work. Should dream bigger though.

Next up, Yan Engines.

Yan Engines (website)


Lu Yan is the CEO. His dad invented the D-Cycle Engine. It's patented. This engine design is gets 30% more fuel efficiency... the electro-hybrid engine only gets 18% more efficiency.


This is really cool technology. The basic premise is that converting existing engine manufacturing would mean changing only 5 parts, while fuel cell and other methods means the entire engine.

WOW. Stats: if every car in the US used this engine, we would save 2.8 million barrels of oil a day less, bringing us back to levels of consumption from 1973. This eliminate the need for all Middle East imports (Hugo loves this!). Eliminates need for oil from Alaska (Polar Bears love this!).

Once again, it's a pretty impressive company.

... networking break ...

Widetronix (website)

Changing Pacemaker batteries costs $6B in the US annually. Widetronix creates a battery which lasts 25 years... reducing costs by $3.9 billion.

Since it could take up to 4 years to get FDA approval, they are going to go after defense and security first, and have already shipped prototypes. But, they point out, the Pacemaker and medical market is the real growth market here... people are getting implants like Pacemakers earlier in their lives.

These guys have a very interesting technology, though the presentation is not as good as the others. The main guy presenting is not nearly as good as his partner. The shorter guy should be doing their presentations. Quote: "We've confused people before..."

I just realized what the product actually is: a nuclear battery. Cool.

Interesting question from the VC panel, then: anything more interesting than security and health to sell this thing? Toys? Anything? Answer: Anything where changing batteries could be dangerous, like batteries encased by water.

Now for JetEye from Yale...


These guys prevent planes from crashing. Awesome. Already can tell, not the best presentation skills, but they also have very interesting technology.

They have two patents for their technology, which basically watches over jet engine blades in a new way, leveraging sensors already in engines. Their first customer is the US govn't and the Joint Strike Fighter program. Sounds badass... they think it does too and think it will help them get into the commercial space. Currently no commercial engines have the sensor they need embedded, only the JSF, but apparently they all will soon.

Presentation note: they are jumping around from person to person in the team. Nice to include different people for their different expertise, but it's very confusing. The CEO or President (two diff people in their case) should be doing all of it. Now, as they're confused about a question, they have 4 people on stage looking confused, not just one. That doesn't look good. One guy isn't even speaking at all.

Just unveiled... they don't actually have the JSF deal. But Pratt (the military contractor) is "very interested" --  all they need is $250,000 to do the "most realistic testing possible," rather than just the lab testing they've done now.

I'm being a little harsh here... they are really smart folks, clearly, and have interesting technology. Not as powerful as BricaBox's military software ;-) but pretty darn awesome.

Just just said they needed only $400,000 to break-even. One of the VCs just asked: "What? Are you a Web 2.0 company?" Answer: well, the heart of this is software, since we're relying on the existing sensors, so the answer is sort of yes.

Team of 4 now makes sense: They are all friends. Aww. That's nice. Actually, that's smart. People who trust each other work well together.


Okay, now they are breaking to deliberate on who's going to win. Battery is dying, so I'll be back when they announce the winner. Follow me on Twitter (@innonate) and I'll let you know when I'm back.



3rd Place: Electro-Epi

2nd Place: JetEye

1st Place: Winetronix

Congrats guys!

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