A New York State-backed startup competition put an abundance of innovation on display last week as five companies — from a pool of hundreds of applicants — were awarded $1 million each to grow their companies.
Winners were selected from eight finalists on October 20 and had previously been narrowed from a list of 15 semifinalists as part of the 43North competition.
Each of the finalists gave a three-minute pitch to a panel of five venture capitalist judges, then answered questions for four minutes. A capacity crowd of 3,000 in the theater added fuel to the competitive stakes.
The five winners, and their tech innovations, are detailed below.
Otrafy: SaaS AI For Supply Chain Efficiency
Otrafy is an artificial intelligence– (AI-) powered SaaS (software-as-a-service) supplier management platform; it aims to eliminate vast amounts of paper and thereby simplify — and automate — compliance while identifying risks. The company cited customer use cases in the paper-intensive food industry that it is helping to streamline.
It performs functions such as supplier communication management, data management, and reporting and analytics — all with the goal of helping companies build resilient digital supply chains.
Risk mitigation features in the Otrafy platform detect non-conformities and analyze risk indicators from documentation, while it also analyzes supplier performance to minimize supply chain disruptions.
Otrafy is based in Chicago.
AMPAworks: AI For Healthcare Inventory Visibility
AMPAworks is a company founded by doctors, nurses, and engineers who developed an Internet of Things (IoT) camera that uses computer vision AI to provide visibility into inventory for pharmacies, medical device manufacturers, surgery centers, clinics, and hospitals. AMPAworks delivers end-to-end mobile and device solutions to increase efficiency and provide insight into how teams can improve and reduce costs in their organizations.
The company’s system provides shelf-level granularity to help with demand planning and re-stocking. The company said the clinical inventory tracking market is currently $21 billion and growing at an 18% compound annual growth rate.
AMPAworks is based in West Hollywood, California.
MOD Tech Labs: Automating 3D Content Work
MOD Tech Labs helps companies create 3D content at scale by digitizing the real world using photos. The company’s platform automates AI-powered workflows that make it simple to scale content creation. It uses a three-step process: users upload raw images, videos, or models; automated, AI-powered visual processing kicks in; then the user downloads finalized assets.
The no-code processing platform cleans, refines, and enhances 3D imagery of objects, places, and people. This lets companies capture once and optimize imagery for any digital media use.
The Austin, Texas-based company’s founder discussed a project MOD Tech Labs recently worked on with NBC Universal, and the 3D work was completed in a fraction of the usual time.
Agapé: Relationship Wellness
Agapé uses personalized questions to spark meaningful conversations. On the consumer side, the company’s app aims to help couples have more fulfilling relationships by sending them daily questions to spark conversations. In the workplace, Agapé aims to curate employee connection that increases satisfaction and retains talent.
The company’s CEO noted that its growth to date has been largely driven by organic and social media efforts — the Agapé app went viral on TikTok.
The Rochester, N.Y.-based company’s founder, Khadesha Okwudili, is in the photo above.
Phood: Stretching University Dining Dollars
Phood integrates with universities’ dining card services to connect students’ flex dollar accounts and the gig economy.
Phood issues a virtual debit card to students that can be used to purchase goods and services from third-party vendors — notably DoorDash — a function made possible through a partnership with Discover. It also lets them use dining dollars at grocery stores and restaurants.
The current 51,000 student users — including students at The Ohio State University — are spending millions on the platform monthly.
Phood is based in New York City.
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