Customers play a vital role in the success of startup companies. Without customers, there is no long-term opportunity for growth or revenue, key components that potential investors are looking for in new companies. Rev1 Ventures recognizes this important startup milestone and did things a bit different for their first Demo Day. Rather than just a lone entrepreneur on stage pitching their company, each presentation included a real customer explaining their situation, what problems they face and how the startup is helping to solve them.
“A customer’s problem or need is the starting point for any successful company and should be front and center from day one,” said Tom Walker, president and CEO of Rev1. “That is what Rev1 engrains in the founders we work with.”
3Bar Biologics CEO and founder Bruce Caldwell included successful family farmer Ken Friedman in his presentation. Caldwell’s company, an agriculture technology spin-off from The Ohio State University, helps farmers improve their plant yield and productivity by using special microbes instead of chemical fertilizers. Friedman’s family was looking to increase yield without more chemicals and turned to 3Bar Biologics for help.
“Ken’s a great example of the type of farm that can benefit from our product, on average about one thousand acres,” said Caldwell. “The yield increase we expect can result in a $25,000 profit for these farmers. There are 25,000 target farms in the Ohio region that depend on plant yield to make a living. We are here to help.”
3Bar Biologics’ lab and manufacturing space are located within Rev1’s facilities in Columbus, Ohio. The company received its early stages of funding from Rev1, a regional partner of Ohio Third Frontier, and has utilized the many free or reduced-cost services the organization provides — from legal help to federal grant support services.
“Our goal at Rev1 is to provide entrepreneurs with resources that will help them hurdle the difficult obstacles they face early on in the lives of their companies,” said Walker. “That early support lays the foundation for more successful companies.”
12 different startups took part in Rev1’s Demo Day. Each company that presented recently achieved a critical milestone, from developing their first product to finding their first customer to generating their first revenue.
“These are the companies that will generate revenue and job growth in central Ohio for years to come,” said Walker.
For an entrepreneur like Caldwell, Rev1’s Demo Day represented a larger step in the growth of his company.
“This event allowed me to experience not only what it means to build a company, but also provided me with insight into the importance of having customers involved in your growth from the early stages,” said Caldwell.