published Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

3-D firms pitch business plans during GigTank's Demo Day in Chattanooga

Aaron Roy, of Brooklyn, NY, prepares to take a photo of a 3D model of the arterial structure of the brain. 3D Ops, a Chattanooga start-up company, used a 3D printer to create the image.
Aaron Roy, of Brooklyn, NY, prepares to take a photo of a 3D model of the arterial structure of the brain. 3D Ops, a Chattanooga start-up company, used a 3D printer to create the image.
Photo by Tim Barber.

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Cook: See Gig City

11 START-UPS PITCH PLANS

Eleven start-up companies pitched investors at DemoDay.

• 3D Ops, Chattanooga: creates 3D anatomical medical models that allow surgeons to plan procedures before operating on patients.

• Cognitics, Chattanooga/San Francisco: uses technology to improve mental health care by applying analytics to treat patients with conditions such as depression and PTSD.

• Feetz, Chattanooga: creates custom-fit footwear for consumers by using patented algorithms, photos and 3D printing.

• GridCure, Chattanooga/Toronto: helps electric utilities assess large amounts of data from smart grids to improve security and reliability of power delivery.

• Lathon, Atlanta/San Diego: manufactures affordable, dual-material desktop 3D printers.

• Nestegg Biotech, Huntsville, Ala.: creates non-toxic 3D scaffolding that can make it cheaper for companies to bring drugs to market.

• KORHealth, Chattanooga/Miami: offers a cloud-based network to educate consumers about healthy choices and care.

• Playorities, Miami: offers a Web-based interactive platform to combat child obesity.

• SeamBot, Huntsville, Ala.: uses automation technology to customize manufacturing of clothes and textiles.

• The Fab Cloud, Chattanooga/Asheville, N.C.: connects partners and customers in the 3D printing industry through an online network.

• TrakTek 3D, Knoxville: creates 3D machine replacement parts for industrial, construction and aviation equipment.

Source: Co.Lab

  • photo
    Clay Posey is executive vice president at 3D Operations Inc.
    Photo by Tim Barber /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Life is three-dimensional -- and if start-up firms that dominated GigTank's Demo Day have their way, the future of fashion, manufacturing and medicine will be, too.

That means perfectly custom fit shoes, and surgery based on a lifelike replica of your insides, both thanks to 3-D technology.

Eleven new companies showed their mettle and their major plans on Tuesday at Girls Preparatory School, during the culmination of Co.Lab's summer-long accelerator program. The goal: woo more than 100 investors and venture capital firms that have an estimated $200 million to put into businesses they deem worthy. To be sure, the fledgling companies wanted barely a sliver of that.

"We're all eating Ramen noodles," joked Clay Posey, executive vice president of 3D Ops, one of GigTank's seven start-ups focusing on 3-D printing.

As its name suggests, 3D Ops has developed technology to help surgeons operate. The company takes CT scans and MRIs, for example, and builds anatomical 3-D models -- of a heart valve or brain, for example -- so that surgeons can better plan medical procedures. The way things work now, surgeons mentally construct images into three dimensions and proceed from there, said Daniel Hampton, the company's president and CEO.

"That can lead to misunderstanding, complications," Hampton said.

It also takes longer, and "time can mean life," he said.

Hampton recently relocated from Memphis to Chattanooga in order to base the company here. Gig City's super-speed Internet is key to the company's success. That's because its business model needs fast uploads for the models it creates.

3D Ops was looking for $2 million, the most of any company presenting Tuesday.

The company is in a "very serious conversation" with one local hospital, which Posey declined to name. That hospital is keen on getting a pilot program in place. And University of Miami Hospital should be in town in August to talk with the team, he said.

At least 500 people were at Tuesday's event, which also featured healthcare technology start-ups and one smart grid company. The day-long annual event was Co.Lab's third.

The 11 teams that presented Tuesday had received $15,000 each in seed money, free housing at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and free work space, as well as mentoring. About 65 companies wanted to be part of the program, which started in May.

Last year, seven start-up ventures pitched their business plans. That event raised about $800,000 from investors, said Mike Bradshaw, president of Co.Lab and GigTank.

Contact staff writer Mitra Malek at mmalek@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6406.

about Mitra Malek...

Mitra Malek writes about business, particularly Chattanooga's tech, entrepreneurial and venture capital communities, as well as tourism. Before coming to the Times Free Press she reported for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Tampa Bay Business Journal, Journal Inquirer and Asbury Park Press. She spent eight years reporting for The Palm Beach Post, where she covered a state cancer cluster investigation. Her work at the Post covering government won her honors from the Society of Professional Journalists and ...

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