Founded in 2005, Phoenix Nuclear Labs (PNL) specializes in neutron generator technologies. The company develops nuclear and particle accelerator technologies that are applied in medicine, defense, and the energy sector. PNL has now received 3 contracts in sustainable markets. The company is headed by Dr. Ross Radel who holds a MS and a PhD in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Prior to joining the team, Dr. Ross worked as the senior member of the technical staff at Sandia National Laboratories.
RentCollegePads.com was started to fix the challenges that college housing faces today. Before RCP, students would have to search multiple sites to find housing located around their school; sometimes with no luck. Now students can search thousands of apartments for rent, subleases or roommates. For landlords RCP provides qualified leads to help reach 100% capacity. In July of 2015, the WSAF invested $250,000 into RentCollegePads.com to help the company expand to more college campus’s around the nation.
In a first syndicated $1 million deal, our fund has made a $500,000 equity growth financing investment along side NEW Capital Fund II (Appleton, WI) in a company that develops and produces various cranberry based products. Simply Incredible Foods (SIF), which posted revenues in 2014 of $1.3 million, is cash flow positive and has a growing base of retail and food service customers. At the start of 2015, SIF moved to a new plant in Menasha which will accommodate sales of $10 million. SIF has achieved many other accomplishments since our investment, most notably forming a relationship with Dole for retail expansion.
SIF is headed by Jonathan Smith, a PhD in food science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who worked in the cranberry industry for 20+ years. He holds several patents on new cranberry offerings. One of their frozen products can be found in some Sendik’s stores in the frozen packaged product aisle sold under the brand “Cransations.” WSAF took equal shares of the company with NEW Capital Fund II after sharing due diligence findings.
Cover5, Inc. has developed a series of games aimed at competing with friends by selecting winners of sporting contests based on reported gaming spreads on final scores and outcomes. This was initially targeted as an alternative to Fantasy Football, but the platform is able to be extended to all sporting activity. It’s a much simpler version of Fantasy Football for a broad cross-section of sport lovers who don’t have time to learn about the many players in all NFL games. Teams and leagues can compete online, and sports bars and radio stations are adopting Cover5 as a way to build traffic. CEO Scott Schmidt reports that Cover5 signed up 10,000 players during its initial launch for the 2013 NFL season. Cover5’s focus has been on increasing its number of users. Since the initial launch, the number of users has jumped to 21,000 players, some of which came in response to the marketing efforts of a new investor and strategic partner, Good Karma Brands. Cover5 has now achieved a national reach with players in 48 states. In addition, the company has developed a network of ESPN radio affiliates to help promote the game. All three of these pieces (Good Karma Brands, national reach, and network of ESPN radio affiliates) are helping Cover5 work towards its goal of 100,000 players.
Mikkelsen Cutting Tools (MCT) is the only USA based manufacturer that designs and builds state of the art digital cutting machine tools for the digital printing industry which is experiencing huge growth worldwide. WSAF made an equity growth capital investment plus attracted MEDC to provide $300,000 in a four year loan to MCT. Up until 2014, MCT had its machine tools manufactured for them under contract arrangements with a UK and US manufacturer. However, after tremendous sales growth in 2014 placed pressure on supply chains, MCT and its joint venture partner in England reached a deal to send most component manufacturing and assembly to the Milwaukee area. The company has several different models of digital cutting machines which it has developed and now markets. MCT has spent the past two years developing a patented vision / software system called “Tiger” (currently in beta testing) which MCT believes will enable them to leapfrog their large international competition. Through the sale of machines and cutting replacement parts, the company managed about $5 million in sales and a positive cash flow in 2014. In 2015, MCT is obtaining bank financing for added working capital, bringing in added equity investment by outside sources, increasing gross margins up to 50% with more components being sourced in the USA along with expanding employment to meet market demands
Nexvex / Roof Marketplace.com is an online marketplace for construction services in a market-changing solution for marketing and customer outreach campaigns. Currently, RMP is being piloted at three property/casualty insurance companies, Erie Insurance in Wisconsin, AMIG in Texas, and Tower Hill Insurance in Florida. RMP has developed a strategic relationship with GAF, the largest producer of roofing materials in North America, and Eagle View (the largest aerial photography supplier in North America) to deliver GAF roofing repair and replacement market competitive quotations from multiple, local GAF Master Elite roofers within 24 hours to insured customers needing roof replacement. The RMP platform brings together homeowners needing a new roof, insurance carriers, and roof contractors. Continued efforts with market insurance leaders will position RMP for continued wins in the insurance, retail, and real estate markets.
Fishidy provides anglers all over the United States with information for successful fishing outings. Fishidy has experienced tremendous growth in users over the past several quarters, up 200% since 2013 (100,000 users to over 300,000 users today). The company has also seen growth in the number of premium users, up about 167% from 2013 (3,000 users to about 8,000 users today). In addition to the user growth, the company has also built up sponsorships from over 70 local bait shops. Fishidy has also generated interest from a number of strategic partners, including Bass Pro Shops and Garmin. Finally, Fishidy placed fifth among 60 ventures in a national social media contest held on the West Coast. The applicant pool for the contest was 2800 companies. This recognition is generating partnership interest from potential investors and strategic buyers on a national basis.
Silatronix is commercializing a new class of patented lithium ion electrolyte materials based on organosilicon (OS3) compounds for use in lithium ion battery storage devices. The OS3 compounds being used are de-gassing, non-flammable, and much safer, as compared to currently marketed lithium ion batteries, which have been struggling with each of these performance categories. In addition, the OS3 solvent increases the voltage capacity of batteries by 30%. With most technical hurdles cleared, world leading battery makers in Japan and Asia have been showing significant interest in Silatronix. One industry expert even called the work being done at Silatronix “a game changer”.
In February of 2015, WSAF closed another syndicated investment in Swallow Solutions LLC which was syndicated with several other Wisconsin based venture funds and angel groups. Swallow Solutions was formed by Dr. Joanne Robbins, PhD, a professor at UW-Madison School of Medicine. Dr. Robbins developed with the support of WARF (Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation) the patented technology to help treat a person’s loss of ability to swallow, called dysphasia. The device involves an exercise mouthpiece and a feedback software package to guide the dysphasia victim and the doctor in a gradual computer monitored therapy process to strengthen the muscles in the head, neck, and esophagus areas to assist the patient to re-learn how to swallow food and liquids. Studies done in the field have shown the Swallow Strong Therapy Program to be a clearly documented clinical success. A recent accomplishment for Swallow Solutions, since the WSAF investment, is that they established a new product distribution relationship with Direct Supply, a major distributor and supplier in the long-term care industry.