ASU startup Pollen-Tech wins Arizona Student Startup Demo Day

April 3, 2013

ASU student startup Pollen-Tech took home the top prize at the first-ever Arizona Student Startup Demo Day, March 29 at ASU SkySong.

Arizona Student Startup Demo Day, sponsored by Hool Law Group and MAC6 , is a new competition developed by ASU Venture Catalyst in collaboration with Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona. The winning student startup receives the Startup Territorial Cup, a perpetual trophy that will go to the winning team’s university each year. Pollen-Tech logo Download Full Image

Pollen-Tech, co-founded by ASU students Adam Brown and Trevor Ray, ASU alumnus Thomas Brown, and Tom Brown, beat out 11 other student startups from ASU, NAU and UA to win the competition. The Pollen-Tech team was awarded a total of $10,000 in funding and the inaugural Startup Territorial Cup. 

Pollen-Tech provides a high-tech way to pollinate crops, eliminating dependence on bee pollination. Unlike bee pollination, Pollen-Tech’s process does not rely on weather or healthy beehives to create substantial agricultural yields.  This revolutionary technology will help alleviate the issues stemming from the collapse of bee colonies in the U.S. and around the world, making its potential impact on the agribusiness sector immense. A participant in ASU’s Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative, Pollen-Tech recently completed testing at farms in California.

“We’re thrilled to bring home the Startup Territorial Cup for ASU,” Ray said. “This experience has been invaluable for us, and it’s very gratifying to see our hard work and dedication pay off. We’re looking forward to using our winnings to further develop our pollination technology, which we believe will revolutionize the agricultural industry.” 

The teams pitched their companies to a panel of judges that included local entrepreneurs and investors James R. Flach, Curtis Gunn, Michael Hool, Scott McIntosh and Bill Miller. Each startup was judged on problem and proposed solution, strength of team and advisors, market opportunity, go-to-market strategy, budget and progress toward launch.

“For more than 25 years, our firm has been active in efforts of entrepreneurship and capital formation,” said Hool, founder and managing partner of sponsor Hool Law Group. “We participated in organizing this event to demonstrate the further commitment of the startup community and the three state universities to collaborate on fostering entrepreneurship. We believe the new Startup Territorial Cup will serve as a beacon for student startup activity and will keep Arizona in the forefront of places to start emerging growth ventures. 

“We were pleased that our collaboration with such great partners as MAC6 and the three universities was so overwhelmingly successful,” Hool added. “We look forward to bigger and better things for Arizona’s student startups next year.”

The top startup from each university received an award of $7,000. In addition to Pollen-Tech, NAU’s MyBarber, a mobile app that helps customers find barbers, and UA’s Crowd Audio, an online music mixing platform, were named the top startups for their schools. As the grand-prize winner, Pollen-Tech received an additional $3,000 for a total of $10,000 in funding.

In addition, FlashFood and Late Living, both from ASU, and UA’s Vive Innovations were named runners-up and received $2,000 each.

Arizona Student Startup Demo Day is a collaborative effort by ASU Venture Catalyst, the Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, and the University of Arizona’s McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship to showcase Arizona’s top student startups, foster collaboration among the state’s universities and highlight the outstanding entrepreneurship efforts at all three schools.  Next year’s event will be hosted by the University of Arizona.

Conference promotes discussion about innovative deal structures in municipal finance

April 3, 2013

Nearly 100 current and future professionals in the field of municipal finance and development gathered on March 22 for the 2013 ASU Municipal Finance Challenge, hosted by Arizona State University’s School of Public Affairs. The conference focused on how to advance creative partnerships for successful municipal finance deals.

“I’m very passionate about this topic,” said Jonathan Koppell, dean of ASU’s College of Public Programs and director of the school, in his opening remarks. “I think that this subject of the financial capacity of the public sector is, perhaps, the key challenge in governance in the years ahead.” Download Full Image

Throughout the day, speakers from teams nationwide that have creatively financed and successfully implemented municipal projects broke down core principles in the field, shared best practices and project successes, and explained how to assess risks.

More than two dozen speakers from both the public and private sectors shared their expertise, including ASU President Michael Crow, who spoke about the university’s innovative financial partnerships with the cities of Phoenix and Tempe, and the public sector, to enhance education and business opportunities.

Participant Daniel L. Smith, assistant professor of public budgeting and financial management at New York University, said the conference “boasted what is easily the most impressive line-up of municipal finance experts and professionals I have seen at such a convening.”

Debra Dupée, managing director for Advanced TechSolutions, LLC, in Tempe, Ariz., also attended and spoke highly of the event.

“Everything exceeded expectations,” Dupée said. “The speakers and their topics were innovative and well-researched. The entire effort displayed a great deal of professional and academic excellence, typical of ASU quality.”

Graduate students from the university also attended the conference, including 10 students from Gerald Miller’s weekend intensive course in advanced financial management.

“It provoked a lot of great discussion,” said Miller, who is a professor in the school. “The conference brought to life a lot of the concepts the students had only read about. It meant a lot to them to attend.”

He noted the afternoon joint session, during which experts spoke about the keys to making their projects successful, was particularly meaningful.

During the session, speakers from Oklahoma City shared their success financing more than $2.4 billion of capital improvement projects using temporary sales taxes and citizen involvement. Representatives from the Durham Performing Arts Center in Durham, N.C., and the Overton Hotel and Conference Center in Lubbock, Texas, also shared their experiences creating successful deals.

“The discussion around the case studies about pay-as-you-go and various alternative financing techniques was the conference’s high point,” Miller said. “It gave an unexpected bonus to the background the rest of the conference speakers provided.”

The 2013 conference was the second of the school’s annual Financial Markets Boot Camp series, and was held in downtown Phoenix, Ariz. It was co-chaired by Susan Giles Bischak, president and CEO of Giles & Company Strategic Business Consultants, Inc., and a faculty associate in the school; and Michael Stanton, publisher of The Bond Buyer, the municipal bond market’s daily news source.

Presenters included key players in municipal finance for economic development, public-private partnerships and infrastructure development, including: Gabriel Petek, senior director at Standard & Poor’s State and Local Government Group; Kurt M. Freund, managing director of municipal finance for RBC Capital Markets, LLC;  Matthew Jones, senior vice president at Moody’s Investors Service; James D. Couch, city manager of Oklahoma City; Raymond Garfield Jr., president of Encore Garfield Public/Private LLC; and Jay Goldstone, chair of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, and an alumnus of ASU’s master’s program in public administration.

Sponsors included: The Bond Buyer; Government Finance Officers Association; the Municipal Finance Journal; RBC Capital Markets; and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP.