When Luminate launched last year, we knew the business accelerator would provide focused support—the kind that didn’t exist yet for startups with optics, photonics, and imaging enabled applications.
What we couldn’t predict was the effect this support would have on leadership teams, their emerging businesses, and a community set on keeping its reputation as the imaging capital of the world.
On June 28, we witnessed, firsthand, what an accelerator can really do.
That day, more than 500 people from industry, academia and government came together to be a part of Luminate’s inaugural Demo Day. Under the big tent at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, we saw how 10 startups and their technologies will change how we detect and monitor disease. Address crisis situations. Share information. Research behavior. Improve physical performance. And, reduce power consumption in mobile devices.
We cheered as more than $2 million in follow-on funding was awarded to companies to help ensure the most promising innovations make it into the marketplace.
And, we listened to the personal stories of company leaders, who shared how the accelerator changed the trajectory of their businesses.
“Positive Science has been operating for over a decade as a self-funded, revenue positive business,” explained Jason Babcock, Founder and CEO. “Luminate gave us the tools to re-examine our business, figure out the optimum size, and fine-tune its direction.
Although we had considered raising venture funds to support growth, we didn’t know how to approach investors. We were surprised to learn that not all venture funding is the same. Some funds are specifically targeted to growth opportunities in the marketplace. Some focus on local economic development, while others are for strategic alignment on social agendas.
Luminate gave us a deeper understanding of how investors think,” added Babcock. “This enabled us to align Positive Science’s goals with their strategies to find the right fit for funding.”
For Think BioSolution, Luminate provided a path for overcoming the challenge of developing executable sales plans.
“Luminate helped us learn about different strategies for doing scalable B2B technology sales,” said Shourjya Sanyal, CEO. “We have implemented these inbound sales strategies using Hubspot, as our Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software.
In doing so, we’ve been able to improve our position as a market leader among original design manufacturers that are building customizable wearable solutions.”
The accelerator also has had a direct impact on technology development.
“In setting up our lab testing, Gary from Luminate’s technical staff realized that we could tilt and center the projector that is used in our display system (with respect to the lens) to improve image quality,” shared Alex Wesley, CEO and Co-founder of Arovia.
“We validated Gary’s idea, and our supplier has agreed to implement the solution. This gave us a path for fixing major issues with our supplier.”
As the first cohort graduates and takes their next steps, Luminate will continue to be by their side, providing access to advice, contacts and new opportunities. It will also open its doors to a new group of companies, which are applying now to be a part of the program.
Although their needs are varied, these companies recognize the value of business acceleration. It’s something that Jason Babcock admits he’s learned after several years of running his startup.
“Luminate helped me do something more for my business that I couldn’t do by myself.”