Announced on a rooftop overlooking midtown Atlanta to a sold out crowd, supply chain optimization startup Oculogx took the third crown at the Atlanta Startup Battle. Atlanta-based Oculogx optimizes supply chain and logistics operations with an augmented reality headset and accompanying software.
Serial entrepreneur and investor Allen Nance of TechSquare Labs kicked off the third round of the quarterly startup competition with his traditional call-out for the presenting startup founders’ favorite rap songs, and a nod to supporters like the Metro Atlanta Chamber, Morehouse College Entrepreneurship Center, Technology Association of Georgia, and Venture Atlanta.
“The biggest thing is the Atlanta community really supporting the event,” says Nance. “There are 800 people in the building. It’s really amazing. I also see an increasing quality in the teams. The very best entrepreneurs are trying to win this event.”
The Battle is intended to provide early-stage startups the unique opportunity to pitch to local and outside investors for a $100K investment. This time around, in addition to access to resources, mentorship and office space of the Tech Square Labs network, they will have the opportunity to get on stage at Washington, D.C.-based global business incubator 1776’s Challenge Cup.
“The Oculogx team met at a research lab and they decided that the problem was so interesting that they went out to visit a customer to see if the problem was real. It’s that kind of passion and curiosity that I think showed through to the judges tonight,” said other TechSquare Labs co-founder Paul Judge as he announced the winner.
“I’m honestly in shock, we did not expect this,” says Oculogx co-founder Sarthak Srinivas.
The B2B startup is led by two current Georgia Tech students, 19-year-old junior Charu Thomas and 21-year-old senior Srinivas, and aims to improve logistic operations within e-commerce warehouses with the use of an augmented reality headset. Their mixed reality software uses HoloLens and Microsoft Azure to efficiently locate items within these massive warehouses.
The market for the industry is huge — in 2014, $1.45 trillion were spent on logistics and transportation.
“Communication is one of the most important things that an entrepreneur can have and one of the things we learn through the Atlanta Startup Battle process,” says Srinivas. “The ability to express yourself in a wide variety of situations, think on your feet, and observe what’s happening.”
Co-founder Thomas agrees. They had a lot of honest pitch feedback from the Atlanta Startup Battle mentors during the process to help them prepare for the big event. “We kept iterating as mentors were honest with us. We improved with the different pitches throughout the day and then practiced, practiced, practiced.”
They plan to focus their winnings on product development. “It’s one of the most important things we can do right now. We have a few leads with different warehouses and we will double down to make sure we are making progress there,” says Srinivas.
Oculogx was selected by a panel of local and outside investors, including Sean Banks, TTV Capital; Dave Gould, TechOperators; David Hall, Revolution; Katie Schwartz, Crosslink Capital; and Alan Taetle, Noro-Moseley.
The other four presenting startups, selected from hundreds of applicants, include:
- Grubbly Farms, a food tech startup that sells the fly’s dehydrated larvae as a more sustainable protein and fat-heavy animal feed.
- EmployToy, a recruiting platform that uses machine learning to match prospective employees with the right employer by diving deep into the employee’s interests, past working experiences, and social interactions.
- Omni Speech, a software technology firm that develops highly effective solutions for enhancing voice quality in mobile devices and cloud-based communications platforms.
- HelixAI, a virtual lab assistant integration for the Amazon Echo to help scientists with work flow during experiments to avoid contamination.
Jeff Nelson, CEO of the Spring 2017 Battle winner Cinchapi, shared that his partnership with Nance, Judge, and Pathbreaker Ventures’ Ryan Gembala has been transformative for his startup in the last few months.
“Working with Allen, Paul, and Ryan Gembala have given us so much insight into how we can take what we built in the technical product and take it to market,” says Nelson. “They’ve opened doors, they’ve introduced us to customers, and other investors and mentors. It has been so invaluable. I’ve been an entrepreneur for many years and I can honestly say that I’ve never met mentors and investors like Allen, Paul, and Ryan who are hands-on, hopeful, and really care about you as an entrepreneur.”
His team has certainly kept busy since their April 2017 win. They worked with a few companies to implement their technology to solve some of their issues and now they are ready to launch their cloud-based software product publicly in a few weeks, with plans for a seed round raise by the end of this year.
Atlanta Startup Battle inaugural winner, healthcare fraud platform Fraudscope, also joined the stage to share an update. CEO Musheer Ahmed, PhD shared that they recently raised a $1.5M seed round, now boast 12 employees, and recently graduated out of the TechSquare Labs space. They are currently in the pilot stage — continuously deploying products to customers to acquire feedback and let them try out the technology.
“We don’t have any excuses now, we have to do it,” says Srinivas.
Stay tuned for the next quarterly iteration of Atlanta Startup Battle. Feature image by Hypepotamus. All other images via TechSquare Labs.