Excell Partners awards $10,000 to start-up team at High Tech Rochester’s annual Pre-Seed Workshop

For the past 10 years, High Tech Rochester’s annual Pre-Seed Workshop has provided inventors, entrepreneurs, and technology professionals with resources for quickly assessing their specific market opportunities and identifying the next steps to be taken in creating a start-up business around their technology innovation.

On Friday, Nov. 1 at the conclusion of this year’s Pre-Seed Workshop, Excell Partners presented its Excell Challenge Award of $10,000 to the team best suited to Excell’s criteria and at a point where the new venture would benefit from an outside investment.

This year’s recipient is Ovitz, a University of Rochester-based team working with technology developed at the Flaum Eye Institute. One of 13 participating teams, Ovitz is working on commercializing a portable eye diagnosis instrument that is smaller, cheaper and more accurate than existing devices and is especially suited for use among children.

“The annual Pre-Seed Workshop presents us with an excellent opportunity to preview the Rochester area’s innovations and start-up ideas,” said Theresa Mazzullo, Chief Executive Officer of Excell Partners, Inc. “Given our mission of providing pre-seed and seed stage financing to high-tech start-up companies in the Upstate New York region, we felt we could give a boost to the start-up idea showing the most potential for commercialization as developed and presented at this workshop.

“We congratulate Ovitz and all of the start-up innovators and entrepreneurs participating in the 2013 Pre-Seed Workshop and expect to hear big things from them in the future.”

Designed as a hands-on program, not a lecture series, “the Pre-Seed Workshop involves highly focused activities and exercises directed toward determining if a technology-based business concept has high potential for commercial success,” says the workshop’s organizer, Mike Riedlinger, High Tech Rochester’s Technology Commercialization Manager.

More than 100 people participated in the 2013 Pre-Seed Workshop: 13 teams (culled down from 18 applications), including teams from the University of Buffalo, Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Rochester and the Rochester community at large. The Workshop involved 32 coaches, contributors, and subject matter experts, and the six investors and industry experts who served as feedback panelists.

The panelists were Theresa Mazzullo of Excell Partners, Jessica Crawford of MedTech, John Frater of the Rochester Angel Network, Jeff Valentine of Exium Partners, and Dick van Belzen of North Point Advisors.

The annual workshop – held this year at Eastman Business Park - is usually limited to 10 teams. Based on a large number of applicants and additional support from the community, HTR stretched the limits to allow 13 teams to participate. Each team revolves around a single innovation or new technology and its proponent or “idea champion.” Workshop organizers fill out the team with regional technology experts, business and intellectual property attorneys, financial specialists, market researchers, and seasoned entrepreneurs.

Outcomes of the workshop include a concise business case and presentation along with specific actions for the next steps to be taken toward commercialization. Presentations created by these teams have formed the basis for some groups to secure seed-stage funding shortly after the workshop.

Pre-Seed Workshops originated in Rochester in 2004 and have spread throughout New York State. Statewide over the past five years, more than 170 companies have been formed and collectively have secured more than $100 million in financing.

2013 Pre-Seed Workshop