VentureClash provides early-stage companies worldwide with an opportunity to grow their business in Connecticut. The goal is to help speed Digital Health, FinTech, InsurTech and Internet of Things (IoT) innovations to market by awarding capital to promising early-stage companies.
At the $5 million pitch competition, early-stage companies are joined by experts, investors, entrepreneurs, customers, and educators where finalists will pitch to a panel of judges. With the recognition that it takes more than money to succeed, competitors also receive access to a critical network of customers, investors, mentors, and talent.
Isabel Hoffmann, Founder and CEO of the Canadian startup, told Innovation Destination Hartford about the company’s IoT solution and why Connecticut is an ideal business location.
INNOVATION DESTINATION HARTFORD: Tell us about your company.
ISABEL HOFFMANN: Tellspec is addressing a global need to reduce food fraud, improve food safety, minimize food waste, protect the food industry, and empower consumers.
We are an IoT company that enables data-driven decisions about food quality, safety, and authenticity across the complete food supply chain. We have developed an affordable device and a cloud platform that can test food in less than 10 seconds. Our disruptive technology maximizes food safety and minimizes food waste.
Food fraud costs the food industry more than $15-billion per year and there are 76 million cases of foodborne illness in the United States with 5,000 deaths per year.
Food fraud damages industry value and has a negative effect on consumer trust. Food waste is another issue we are trying to address. It squanders resources and causes needless production of greenhouse gases. Approximately 60% of food waste can be avoided with quality testing quality.
IDH: When did Tellspec launch?
IH: We incorporated in 2013 and launched our first sensor in late 2015.
IDH: How does the sensor work?
IH: Our cloud platform allows the integration of spectral sensors, which are sensors that use spectroscopy. In very simple terms, spectroscopy measures the light absorbed by a material to identify and quantify that substance. The amount of light that a material absorbs at different wavelengths makes a unique fingerprint. The combination of the fingerprints of the substances in that material can tell you what substances are present and in what amounts.
IDH: Why do you feel it important for your company to have a U.S. presence?
The United States is a big market. As a Canadian company it is always far better to have our headquarters in the United States versus Canada. We have had some great success in Europe where our sensors are used by food producers, distributors, retailers, and even a few clinics. We even had nine different European awards in less than 12 months. Now we need to grow our North American presence.
IDH: Why is Connecticut a good fit for your company?
IH: Connecticut is ideal because it has great universities and biotech and health companies. It is also close to New York City and Boston, which are great economic centers in the United States. We also want to explore manufacturing opportunities in Connecticut.
IDH: How did you become involved with VentureClash?
IH: We were invited to participate through an email from Connecticut Innovations’s CEO to asking us to enter this competition. And we are glad we did.
IDH: What do you hope to gain from the experience of participating in VentureClash?
IH: We hope to win one of the top awards. So far, it has been great and very fruitful working with the team at Connecticut Innovations. We have been introduced to several companies in the United States that can use our technology. We have also met companies that use similar technologies. VentureClash is by far the best experience we have had with respect to business opportunities.
IDH: Where do you hope to see the company in one year’s time?
IH: I hope we will have a lab and an office near Yale University and that we will be working with several U.S. companies to integrate our technology in their production or process. I also hope our U.S. team will be the largest team we have.
Learn about other VentureClash 2017 finalists
Managed by Connecticut Innovations, VentureClash is Connecticut’s global venture challenge focused on early-stage companies. The challenge, launched in 2016, identifies high-potential companies in digital health, IoT, InsureTech and FinTech that will compete for investments from a $5 million award pool. Visit www.ventureclash.com to learn about qualifications, requirements, guidelines, and how to apply.
About Connecticut Innovations
Connecticut Innovations provides venture capital and strategic support for innovative, early-stage technology companies; financial support for innovation and collaboration; and connections to its well-established network of partners and professionals. For more information, visit www.ctinnovations.com or read our interview with Connecticut Innovations CEO Matt McCooe.