CHARLOTTE, NC, October 2, 2020 — TFX Capital held its 4th Annual Veteran Startup Showcase yesterday. The competition’s winner, Odonata Health, as well as the other finalists, commended the event for promoting technology innovation, elevating former military leader entrepreneurship and raising the profile of Charlotte, NC as a tech hub. The Showcase, sponsored in part by JPMorgan Chase, was held virtually on October 1, 2020, with an invite-only opportunity for five former military leaders to present their companies and compete for a $50,000 (cash and in-kind) first-place and $10,000 (cash) runner-up prize.
Hosted by TFX Capital, a Charlotte-based venture capital firm that invests exclusively in tech startups founded by high-performing former military leaders, the annual event is designed to not only provide founders with capital to help grow their businesses but also to connect them with a network of investors, corporate executives and third-party experts. Showcase finalists gain exposure to the venture capital, veteran entrepreneurship, local and regional startup ecosystems.
Founded by medical device executive and U.S. Army veteran Ann Holder, first prize winner Odonata Health is a maternal/fetal care platform designed to improve the experience and outcomes of pregnant women. Odonata’s wearable, textile-based product measures fetal and maternal electrocardiograms (ECGs), contractions and other key biometrics of women and their developing babies using IP protected sensors combined with AI and machine learning to give clinicians more information about the status of a fetus with the goal of improving outcomes for use in both the hospital and the home.
“We are grateful to TFX Capital, JPMorgan Chase and all of the Showcase sponsors for not only being part of the event but more importantly for elevating the reputation of former military leaders as highly successful technology innovators,” said Odonata Health Founder Ann Holder. “Our military experience trained us in analyzing opportunities from all angles while assessing risk and being prepared for all challenges. It’s a fantastic education for business leadership and entrepreneurship.”
The runner-up award went to RentCheck, a property management solution that enables property managers to save time and money by empowering residents to perform detailed property inspections without the presence of a property manager. Other participating startups included knowRX, Polysentry and TradeX.
Competition judges from TFX, Venture South and ForgePoint Capital selected the winners from the pre-vetted group of finalists that were all early-stage pre-series A, business-tobusiness technology startups with veteran founders.
Lead sponsor JPMorgan Chase, which is actively expanding its presence in the Charlotte market, supported the event with a generous contribution from its Office of Military and Veteran Affairs (MVA). The bank established its MVA program in 2011 in part to support veteran-owned businesses through inclusive growth and enabling access to financial services and capital.
“This event represents the perfect cross-section of our commitment to empowering our veterans for long-term, post-military success and growing and enabling entrepreneurship in Charlotte and throughout the Southeast,” according to Stephen Price, a JPMorgan Chase Private Bank advisor in Charlotte and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. “Through entrepreneurial development programs, like the Veteran Startup Showcase, we can not only help pave the path for access to capital for veteran-owned businesses, but we can help them establish the connections to take their ventures to the next level.”
“We believe that people who have served can bring a ‘mission’ orientation and resiliency mindset to starting and growing enterprises and B2B startups,” said TFX Managing Partner Brandon Shelton. “Most importantly, these founders understand how to make forward decisions despite a mountain of uncertainty,” he added, noting that former military startup leaders are uniquely prepared for operating businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic due to resiliency training during their time in the military.
“Being based in Charlotte, which has a growing entrepreneurial, technology and venture capital community, offers TFX a number of advantages, particularly on the deal flow front,” said TFX Partner Kevin Eckert. “We sit at the intersection of a variety of growing regional ecosystems, particularly in the South and Mid-Atlantic, so we get an early look at companies regionally that our peers in San Francisco, Boston and New York often miss. This event highlights that fact.”
TFX Capital thanks the sponsors for this year’s event for their support, including Akerman, Acuity, Brown Advisory, Caldwell Partners, DECK Leadership, Dualboot Partners, Frazier & Deeter, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Lavoie CPA, MiddleM Creative, Novant Health, Tech Talent South, The Rivet Group, TIAA and UpShot Inc.
In a special show of appreciation, TFX Capital has named Karl Hightower, Chief DataOfficer at Novant Health, as the winner of this year’s Force Multiplier Award. Mr. Hightower has advocated on behalf of TFX and the Veterans Startup Showcase in many ways. He not only participated on the finalist committee and hosted one-on-one prep sessions with the 2020 finalists, but he also served as a judge for the past two events. Novant has graciously been a sponsor of the Showcase for the past three years.
“Karl consistently extends support to TFX despite holding an incredibly demanding digital healthcare role with Novant. He always makes time for us, our founders, and the ecosystem at large,” said Mr. Shelton, adding that Mr. Hightower has also served as a panelist for other events TFX has hosted this year. “Thank you, Karl.”