Education was the central theme of the second day of the CED Tech Venture Conference, which wrapped up Wednesday with 16 companies pitching investors for more than $6 million – and that total only reflects the amount entrepreneurs were willing to disclose. On the first day, investors heard pitches for a total of $24 million.

Featured speaker James H. Shelton III, the acting deputy secretary of education for the US Department of Education, told the audience of several hundred people that technology will be a key differentiator in solving today’s educational problems, including access issues. In the near future, said Shelton, we can expect a high degree of educational personalization led by technology.

The key to innovation in the educational system, he added, will be the ability to generate and interpret data based on learning. The ability to monitor, study, and analyze how individuals learn will enable a high degree of personalized learning and enable quick iterations of education technology products designed to give learners the ability to study from anywhere with an Internet connection.

Later, Governor Pat McCrory echoed his support of a technology-driven educational system, noting that a technological focus could also help the NC State Legislature balance the education budget.

“Where can we share capital resources,” asked McCrory, “where can we share technology, or teachers, or professors?”  In order to create a better education system in the state, argued McCrory, “we’ll have to do it through technology.”

“Education is going to change drastically in the next five years,” said McCrory, and a few entrepreneurs are acting on this prediction.

Startup company presentations were heavily focused on educational technology companies. The investor pitches kicked off with a song, written by Allison Wood, co-founder and director of business development at LCMS+, encouraging investors to come discuss their growth plans.

Here’s a run down of Wednesday’s company pitches:

  • LCMS+

The LCMS+ platform enables medical schools manage curriculum development and seeks to help educate healthcare professionals. 

The company, co-founded by presenter Allison Wood, began at Duke University’s School of Medicine in 2005, and boasts a fully-integrated solution for medical centers to map curriculum, manage content, and conduct course evaluations.

LCMS is “flying under the radar,” said Wood, and is experiencing organic growth. Nevertheless, the company is pursuing funding – $250,000 – in order to ramp up sales rapidly.

  • Coursefork

Coursefork, led by co-founder and CEO Elliot Hauser, launched at the March 2013 Triangle Startup Weekend. 

The company received its first seed round of $400,000 from a group of angel investors last month, said Hauser, and is not actively pursuing follow-on investment.

The platform enables users to make, share and collaborate on a variety of courses. The focus is on programming and other educational courses, suggested Hauser, though the platform can be deployed to a much broader audience.


Complex Task Assessment Solutions and Information Technology, or CTASIT, is a learning management system that engages students by placing them into problem-solving opportunities and providing feedback. 

The project started last year, deploying pilot programs at eight universities in the United States and Canada, and has generated $75,000 in revenue thus far.

In a market that is estimated at $500 million, it’s a small start, but with more than 3,400 universities as potential clients, there’s a huge opportunity for growth, said company founders.

  • FokusLabs

Rich Brancaccio, founder of FokusLabs, is dedicated to assisting students with autism. Brancaccio, a former school psychologist, founded the company with the sole goal of creating specialized tools and resources in order to help children overcome developmental disabilities. 

The company has a patent-pending device that is designed for children with ADHD or autism, and is prototyping the product in preparation to pilot it with a small group of Triangle parents and students.

The goal, said Brancaccio, “is to produce a high quality product at a price that everyone can afford,” suggesting that the market for his product line approaches 20 million students in the United States.

  • LobbyGuard

LobbyGuard kiosks take the place of a paper log-book, said presenter Kevin Allen, and provides instant background checks on visitors. 

“We make buildings safer,” said Allen, “and save clients money while doing so.”

The company is profitable, and has been since 2006, and operates more than 3,000 installations of the LobbyGuard product, said Allen. The product line has been deployed to more than 48 states and 15 non-US countries, primarily for use in educational institutions.

The kiosks help provide safety and security in primary education facilities, as well as corporate office complexes.

The company is currently seeking their first investment – an undisclosed amount – in order to rapidly scale the business and expand sales.

  • SEAL Innovation

The team at SEAL wants to prevent child deaths from drowning accidents. To do this, the team has developed technology that tracks swimmers while submerged in water.

The product, billed as the next level of aquatic safety, is a necklace that can detect potential drowning incidents, said Dr. Graham Snyder, CEO.

The company is currently raising $2 million in a Series A round, and has already raised 775,000 from angels and small venture groups.

  • HomeWellness

“Most homeowners don’t understand how their homes work, so when things go wrong, they’re at the mercy of contractors, salesmen and the Internet,” said Eric Calhoun, co-founder of HomeWellness.

To make matters worse for homeowners, said Calhoun, it’s highly likely that their home is underperforming when it comes to energy efficiency.

HomeWellness, delivered to consumers as an employee benefit through their corporate employer, enables homeowners to complete a brief questionnaire (similar to Turbo Tax, suggested Calhoun) and help them make better decisions in order to achieve greater efficiency.

The company has piloted the platform with 9,000 employees of a Fortune 500 company, said Calhoun, with a 26% engagement rate. Of the employees who participated, more than 900 home projects started after using the HomeWellness product, said Calhoun.

The company, which is housed in The Startup Factory, is currently raising $500,000.

Homes are underperforming – we take homeowners through a brief questionnaire (like TurboTax) – and help them perform better.

  • Lyf Shoes

“Shoemaking is a nasty business,” said Aly Khalifa, founder and CEO of LYF Shoes, “it’s time to change the ways we make shoes.”

LYF can manufacture modular shoes in 90 seconds, said Khalifa, “and yes, this will disrupt the market.”

The company also boasts the ability to “digitally monitor” your shoes, adjusting a personal shoe profile exactly to one’s feet.

Shoes are made from repurposed materials, said Khalifa, creating a sustainable production process.

The company is raising $200,000, and is currently seeking new investors.

  • Platinix

Brian Iezzi, a sophomore at NC State University, has developed an alternative material to platinum.

According to the company’s website, the technology was developed at NC State University by Dr. Linyou Cao and his team in the materials science and engineering department.

“We can produce a catalyst for about $7,” said Iezzi, “in about two hours.” This is both more efficient, in terms of time, as well as less expensive than any competitors, said Iezzi.

“We plan to sell or license our catalyst,” said Iezzi, “to meet the market needs.” Platinix will be a viable alternative to platinum, said Iezzi, “and this could change the market.”


  • Panacea Solutions

Developed in order to deliver nutritional supplements to clientele through data-driven methodologies, Panacea Solutions is developing scientific evidence methodology to make personalized recommendations to individuals based on family history and diet.

The company, founded by CEO Edison Hudson, is poised to extend the market to the pharmaceutical industry.

  • Sarda Technologies

Sarda Technologies has developed a technology that directly competes with large silicone chip manufacturers like Texas Instruments.

And it’s winning, claims Bob Conner, founder and CEO, because Sarda technology reduces energy consumption by 30% by replacing silicone with a more efficient semiconductor material.

The location of the company is a main driver for success, said Conner, because the Triangle is a regional leader in semiconductors and there are enough research facilities to study the effects of the technology.

The company is currently raising their second round of funding, for an undisclosed amount.

  • Fuel3D

Fuel3D is an easy to use handheld portable and affordable 3-D image capturing system that enables rapid prototyping for designers, engineers, and the everyday DIYer.

Fuel3D is changing how 3D printing can occur, said Stephen Crossland, CMO, because it whittles a process that used to take days and weeks to minutes and hours.

Their technology enables anyone to take a three dimensional image of any object, and to print that object in a variety of mediums – plastics or chocolate, for example.

  • Entigral Systems, Inc.

Entigral Systems closed a major client earlier today, said Booth Kalmbach, CEO. The client? Honda.

It’s a big step for the company, which licenses enterprise software that uses RFID tags in order to help US manufacturers streamline their production facilities.

The software is used to solve the “Trigger Pull Problem,” said Kalmbach, meaning that companies achieve an average increase of 1000 percent in their labor utilization efficiency.

The company recently closed a $1.2 million Series A from a group of angel syndicates, and plans to raise an additional round in 2014.

  • Able Device

Able Device makes it incredibly easy to get kiosk machines onto cellular networks, said Leigh Ann Ryals, co-founder and CEO.

This machine-to-machine communication reduces the cost, complexity and risk often associated with developing embedded wireless applications for devices like point-of-sale systems, kiosks, and security systems.

Given that there will be an estimated increase of more than 4 million new devices that will require machine-to-machine communication over a wireless network, said Ryals, there is ample opportunity for growth in their target market.

The company is raising a seed round of $500,000, and expects to close the round in the next few months.

  • Game Theory Group

Headquartered in Greenville, Game Theory Group operates software products that enable college athletic departments to understand leadership potential.

At universities like the University of Texas and North Carolina State University, coaches and athletic staff use the company’s assessment tools to monitor their athlete’s intellectual development.

The company is showing an increase in student athlete GPA and retention rates, said Vin McCaffrey, founder and CEO of Game Theory Group.

The company plans to connect the pool of student athletes – and their data profiles – to potential employers this fall.

With 1,800 athletic departments nationwide, and thousands of employers interested in hiring student athletes and leaders, the company believes that it is sitting on an enormous opportunity.

Game Theory Group is raising its first seed round, and is seeking $250,000, primarily from angel investors.

  • Organic Transit

Rob Cotter, founder and CEO of Organic Transit, sure knows how to make an entrance. Riding in on one of Organic Transit’s ELF vehicles, Cotter rode to the stage in style.

The goal of Organic Transit is a simple one, said Cotter in the last company pitch of the day, “we want to design and build the most efficient vehicles on the planet.”

With more than 70 percent of the American population living in cities, said Cotter, the opportunity for alternative transit is enormous.

The ELF is a 150-pound hybrid between a bicycle and electric car, and can bear loads of up to 350-pounds, said Cotter. The vehicle uses solar energy to power the car, with a range of 15 miles operating solely on its solar battery.

There is, of course, another power mechanism, said Cotter. Caloric power. The vehicles operate similar to recumbent bicycles, increasing the range to as far as an operator would want to use their legs.

Organic Transit, headquartered in Durham, opened a second assembly facility in San Jose, CA, last week, and plans to move to a larger facility in Durham. Given the success of the satellite location, said Cotter, it’s possible that we’ll see the firm open locations in three or four more cities in the United States or in Europe.

It has sold more than 250 vehicles in the last six months, and manufactured and delivered 100 of them.

Cotter’s firm, which has raised $1 million in a series of initial investments from angel investors, expects to generate $1 million in revenue this year. The company does plan to raise its Series A round within the next year, targeting $2 million to $5 million in capital in order to expand to European markets.

In a new feature, Organic Transit launched a “control and command” mobile application which gives owners the keys to their vehicle – literally. The vehicles include an RFID tag, and the application will track the vehicle against GPS data, display speed, an odometer and track the number of calories burned, as well as battery usage.

At the conclusion of the CED Tech Venture Conference, Cotter hopped back into his ELF and sped off.