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Ideas for the Future: Startups Take the #TECHSUPERSHOW Stage at the Annual IDEA Showcase


William Shakespeare’s Juliet famously told Romeo that “parting is such sweet sorrow” and all that jazz, but we’d say the opposite is the case every year at Future of Work Expo (alongside MSP Expo, IoT Evolution Expo, Generative AI Expo and ITEXPO and more – the whole #TECHSUPERSHOW shebang).

So, why would we say the opposite? Namely, because every year of expo festivities wraps up with the consistently awesome IDEA Showcase, where startups are given a chance to pitch their solutions to a panel of experienced industry leaders and a crowd of attendees in the Floridian Ballroom of the expo’s convention center.

The long-story-short here? It’s a good time, readers. (Plus, I’ve yet to begin an article with a Shakespeare reference, so there we go.)

To kick it off, our Group Editorial Director Erik Linask (who also organized the IDEA Showcase and so much of the entire expo’s agenda) introduced the judges alongside Nikki Cabus, South Florida Tech Hub’s CEO. Cabus described the organization as “connectors of the tech ecosystem,” which is why the winner of the IDEA Showcase would claim a membership to the South Florida Tech Hub and its myriad networking benefits, talent and resource access and much more.

The judges:

Then, Linask presented the startups. Each of them had up to five minutes to pitch, followed by up to five minutes of questions from the judges.

Below are the summaries:

  • Rauf Tailony, PhD, CEO of FUSIONATION: FUSIONATION (in my mind, a blend of “fusion” and “innovation” or “imagination”) 3D-prints what it’s calling “the next generation of real estate.” Its team builds futuristic residential and commercial housing via 3D-printing technology and robotics. “We take the robot on site and built the home out of concrete,” Tailony said. “Building homes this way can reduce costs by 40%.” Tailony was then asked by the judges about permits and zoning laws, whether or not FUSIONATION owns its printing tech, and what the competitive landscape looks like for this type of housing.
  • Reesë Tuttle, President and CTO of Compliology: Compliology is a data compliance company that recognizes how every company (statistically speaking) will, at some point, suffer a data breach and will require support. Tuttle (who started college at the age of 13 and is now a certified encryption specialist) is all too familiar with statistics like these, and she’s on a mission. Compliology is forming an advisor panel of reformed hackers (through connections Tuttle herself has made) to leverage tools that resolve breaches caused by either human or computing errors, or willful actions by bad actors. Compliology, as Tuttle described, “has training models to protect people and companies with vulnerabilities that shouldn’t exist in the first place.” She was then asked by the judges about customer segments, funding, Compliology’s competitive advantage in cybersecurity, its software engineering needs, and how it plans on “working from both attack and the defense standpoint” to ensure compliance measures are met.
  • Steve Harkey, CMO of Wisp Energy: Wisp Energy, per Harkey, “is creating breakthrough technology that reduces the levelized cost of energy, because significant changes must come to the energy world.” With Wisp Energy’s smarter wind turbines (that are smaller than traditional turbines, run on sustainable power and come at lower costs), on-demand and cost-effective green energy capabilities can be delivered. Harkey noted that because Wisp Energy’s patent-pending Dual Axis Wind Turbines feature sails that travel in a unique, downward linear path, “they create almost no resistance while generating more energy, and with less wind.” Harkey concluded by saying “We are not manufacturers. We are third-party tech innovators with more than 20 years of success already under our belts.” The judges inquired about the turbines’ conceptual designs and movement specifics, the average length of a Wisp Energy contract, and both short-term and long-term deployment needs.
  • Rob Sims, DEFENDER – Powered by Alchemi: Sims helms a strategic data resiliency platform for file-based content. This complete solution maps user file access based on file action (e.g. open, save, etc.) and leverages multitiered anomaly detection, AI data tag generation to enable precise access controls, and other robust data security capabilities. The judges asked about the data models at work, different types of errors encountered, service interruptions, and the startup’s customer acquisition process.
  • Rick Blalock, OneStudy: OneStudy is a SaaS application that uses AI-managed conversations to drive growth “deeper than quantitative surveys, better than in-person interviews, and with faster time-to-action we can track,” Blalock said. OneStudy was described as a resource “for companies who thousands of customers who struggle with activation, churn, growth, retention and engagement.” OneStudy conducts conversational interviews with “truer context” to find candidate talents at scale. It also reportedly makes expensive research efforts cheaper and turns mundanities found in customer interactions into “actual, transformative insights.” The judges asked Blalock about the landscape for a solution like this, pricing and revenue forecasting, and how a balance is achieved between the human element present for the interview-conducting AI and the technology itself.
  • David Thrower, CEO, Cerebros AutoML Platform: For the IDEA Showcase’s final pitch, Thrower presented Cerebros, an open-source company that “enable anyone to build customized, predictive AI-powered proofs-of-concept and full apps quickly and easily on a no-code AI platform.” Thrower described how large corporate competitors are already using predictive AI to automate decisions, save time, and make money. SMBs may struggle in this area, so why not level the playing field? The judges asked about the machine learning involved, the training data, AI accuracy and various UI elements.

So, after these pitches…

The winner?

*drumroll, please*

It’s Wisp Energy, y’all!

In fact, Wisp Energy won both the audience vote and the judge’s vote, which had yet to happen in IDEA Showcase history.

All the startups are shown in this story’s photo, and we were very pleased to have parting not be “sweet sorrow,” but rather a fantastic and enjoyable Shark Tank-esque wrap-up to the goings-on of this year’s expo.

Edited by Alex Passett
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Future of Work Contributor


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