Chocolate, screwdrivers and other startup gems from NWEN’s First Look Forum

Little Borrowed Dress founder Corie Hardee talks at the NWEN First Look Forum, as Appitude founder Vj Anma looks on.

The entrepreneurial spirit certainly wasn’t lacking yesterday at the Arctic Club Hotel in downtown Seattle. A dozen entrepreneurs presented to Seattle angel investors and VCs at the Northwest Entrepreneur Network’s First Look Forum. I’ve never seen such a diverse set of startup ideas — from a social networking site just for couples (SnuggleCloud) to a retail store for chocolate (Chocolopolis) to fusion energy systems (Woodruff Scientific) to a new type of screwdriver (Flipout Screwdrivers).

But, at the end of the day, it was a medical device startup called Guide Analytics which took home the top prize. (Which happened to be one year of free office space).

Led by former Rosetta employee Deborah Kessler, Guide is developing a non-invasive and waterproof ankle bracelet which serves as a monitoring device for heart failure patients.  The bracelet is designed to monitor edema and activity levels, providing the information to secure servers via cell phone.

One challenge is that the company’s target market isn’t necessarily tech savvy, but Kessler said the company is working with care givers to make sure the system is working.

Kessler of Guide Analytics

“There are clinical trials that say edema is a good indicator of an impending hospitalization,” said Kessler. “So we intend to send those alerts to the patient if they are able to respond to them, but particularly to their care giver.”

The winning pitch was chosen by Seattle area venture capitalists Voyager’s Bill McAlleer, OVP’s Mark Ashida and Ignition’s Michelle Goldberg who grilled the entrepreneurs “American Idol” style after the presentations. (OK, there wasn’t that much drama).

Nonetheless, it was interesting to see the line-up of companies, many of which were entirely new to me. Here’s a look at the 12 presenters with a short description from the startup.

AgileEVM: Software-as-a-Service Agile software development tool for medium and large organizations. Founded in 2010 by Brent Barton.

Appitude: A social book reading platform for the iPad, creating a method whereby digital book readers can interact with one another in real time through notes and pictures. Led by founder Vj Anma, Appitude essentially becomes a a virtual book club.

BodSix: Led by former Jobster and Amazon.com employee Jeff Dixon, BodSix is developing location-based social games. Its first title is Gremlin Catch, a game in which players try to recover items stolen by pesky gremlins.

Chocolopolis: An upscale retailer for — you guessed it — chocolate. It has a store on Queen Anne and a seasonal store in Bellevue. The startup is led by Lauren Adler, who previously worked at Amazon.com, Star Market and Merrill Lynch.

Flipout Screwdrivers: A Bellingham startup led by UW grad Joel Towsan, the Flipout is a new electronic screwdriver that morphs into different shapes in order to get into tight spots.

Guide Analytics: Ankle bracelets for monitor health of heart patients.

Little Borrowed Dress: An online rental service for bridesmaid dresses, similar to what Netflix has done for movies or Avelle has done for handbags.

Location Genome: Led by former Zillow.com and MSN developer Maria Zhang, Location Genome provides location data and contextual understanding of locations on mobile devices.

Meevine: A mobile application that allows users to create and plan events and then share that information with friends. Meevine CEO previously built the Android version of the OneBusAway mobile applications.

ReadyPulse: An online benchmarking system for measuring brand performance on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

SnuggleCloud: A social networking site for couples, especially those involved in long-distance relationships. The company currently has a trial going at Fort Lewis in Washington state. The company helps couples communicate, keep track of events and play games. The startup is led by Emily Marshall, who previously worked at Point Inside.

Woodruff Scientific: Developing fusion energy systems that work like a combustible engine.

  • Chris Rosenquest

    That’s certainly an amazing and diverse group of start-ups.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1180052366 Rebecca Lovell

    Thanks for the write-up, John! @Chris: Diversity was definitely the theme– though I’ll note it was a tough day for white dudes. :) 5 of the 12 presenting companies were women-led businesses, and 4 of the 5 finalists (selected by audience vote) were women (VJ Anma was one lucky man!). And whether you chalk it up to “Seattle nice,” or the (sadly rare) infusion of women into this 75% tech forum, this was the most collegial cohort of presenters we’ve worked with to date! They acted as colleagues vs. competitors, and helped each other along every step of the way. This is why we get out of bed in the morning, and are proud to be a part of this community!

  • Srinivas Penumaka

    I second Rebecca. I had great fun presenting ReadyPulse. We are excited to be in the right mix of contestants and audience and especially want to thank Rebecca and Caitlin for their immaculate organizational skills. It is a great experience overall.

  • http://www.puzzazz.com Roy Leban

    Sounds like it was a really great event, with some innovative new startups. Congrats to everyone! Of note: 3 of the 12 (SnuggleCloud, MeeVine, and ReadyPulse) are Founder Institute companies, a nice showing.

    Now I think I really need to do some market research at Chocolopolis.