Marine Corps/war-on-terror vet Jonathan Frangakis knows what real pressure is.

Life or death based on his decisions as an officer on the battle fields in “Afghan” as he calls it – and Iraq.

So while prepping for and presenting at Google Demo Day was pressure-filled, the CEO of Durham-based startup Mira went West last week having prepped well for the “pitch battlefield.”

He didn’t win – or did he? There’s much money still coming his way.

“Disappointed? I think the pang of defeat weighs heavier with me than with most,” Frangakis, who used his competitive nature and Marine training to survive in the fight against terror, says when asked to reflect on the events of the day.

“So initially I was definitely disappointed.

“But then we got so much attention at the event afterwards and in emails from folks who didn’t stay for the lunch. Common thing I heard was that they voted for us so and that we had one of, if not the, strongest pitch so that helped ease the loss.”

Frangakis, who was tutored about growing Mira (“Look! Look!” in Spanish) at The Startup Factory accelerator in Durham, has been praised by both TSF and The American Underground’s Adam Klein for being to “really bring it” as a “why you should invest in me and my company” pitcher.

As Frangakis admits, “I love a microphone.”

While Google Demo Day honors went to others (you can read the recap in the link with this post), the Mira CEO didn’t pout. In fact, he grew even more excited.

“So looking back, it was HUGELY impactful for us,” he explains..”We have more strong interest on the capital side than we anticipated so I’m definitely excited about that.”

AOL Founder Steve Case promised each of the 11 presenters $100,000 if they were able to raise $1 million in outside capital. Frangakis actually has his sights zeroed in on $2.5 million – or more.

Going to battle

The Skinny asked Frangakis just how tough was Demo Day – from prep to finish.

“The days were long while there and we spent a lot of time prepping ahead of time,” he explains. “I’m happy to have it over with for sure. But I love a microphone. I genuinely feel like I’m in my element on stage and when I’m this prepared for something, it’s like an auto pilot.”

So a question about being nervous was superfluous – but was asked anyway.

“Not too much. I have a way to deal with nerves.” he explains.

And here the officer who had to make life-or-death decisions provides insight into the mind of a combat experienced veteran – some things can’t be taught at business school.

“I basically think back to my days in Afghan or Iraq and remind myself no matter how badly i screw something up, no one get hurt,” he points out.

“There’s really only upside in those types of situations. Plus, when I say I prepared, I really prepared. There was no way I was screwing that up.”

You present like you train, in other words, just as in the military recruits are told you fight how you train.

Fighting the competition

The startups went to Demo Day having been prepared by the Google-affiliated startup centers, drilled on the key points, the “pain points,” the market opportunities, their respective competitive advantages. And so Frangakis expected a tough fight.

He got it.

“Definitely,” he says when asked if the competition was keen. “Lots of strong companies.

“I can definitely make an argument that we should have won, but I don’t feel bad at all for coming in behind Player’s Health and a couple other ones if they had won.”

So what’s next? Continuing to build the business – and raising money, which can be a never-ending task for startup CEOs.

“There’s definitely enough interest to fill out this $2.5 million [round] right now,” Frangakis says.

“We actually got a couple of term sheets before we even landed at SFO [San Francisco International Airport] which was a great way to kick things off.”

What Is Mira? Read WTW’s profile at: