Five health firms endure BioAccel’s ‘scorpion pit’ competition

Five health firms endure BioAccel’s ‘scorpion pit’ competition

Friday, July 17, 2015

The “scorpion pit” — led by local tech investor Francine Hardaway — was brutal this morning for the five health care companies vying for financial investments at the second annual BioAccel’s Solutions Challenge.

You could see some of their faces fall when Hardaway and others stung them with harsh questions about the validity of their business ideas. And then came Asher Taghizadeh, a third grader at Manzano Day School in Albuquerque, N.M, who hopes to be moving to Arizona soon with his father, Dr. Farhan Taghizadeh, chief medical officer for Omni Bioceutical Innovations, one of the five companies vying for a capital infusion. The audience couldn’t stop clapping for the 8-year-old entrepreneur, who pitched his Flavor Paste concept to the scorpion pit. See the accompanying video for a glimpse at his presentation.

Immediately, LifeLock CEO Todd Davis, another scorpion, handed Asher a $100 bill.

Tonight, the scorpions will announce the big winners of the competition. BioAccel created the competition in 2013 to help solve unmet health care needs by funding start-up companies that are developing and innovating ways to address gaps in medical care. The presentations ranged from digital wearable devices to using stem cells to heal wounds faster.

BioAccel created the competition in 2013 to help solve unmet health care needs by funding start-up companies that are developing and innovating ways to address gaps in medical care. The presentations ranged from digital wearable devices to using stem cells to heal wounds faster.

The scorpion pit idea — similar to the popular reality TV show, “Shark Tank” — was the brainchild of BioAccel co-founders MaryAnn Guerra and Ron King.

Entrepreneurs did they best to convince scorpion pit investors to invest up to $50,000, plus an additional $50,000 in proof-of-concept funds from BioAccel. The goal is to accelerate the winning projects from early stage identification to the commercialized market.

Presenters were founders and CEOs from Saccadous, RightBio Metrics, Omni Bioceutical Innovations, Saguaro Medical Technologies, and TinyKicks, as well as two student teams NeoLight and EpiFinder.

In addition to Hardaway and Davis, the other judges were Alex Brigham, CEO of Ethisphere; Eric Crown, chairman emeritus and co-founder of Insight Enterprises; Dr. Vishu Jjhaveri, senior vice president of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona; and Jeff Pruitt, CEO of Tallwave.