CHARLOTTE – Technology firm CommSafe AI won top honors and $40,000 in prize money to grow their business at the Charlotte Veteran Startup Showcase, an annual event with the goal of helping to make the barriers to venture capital fall for service-driven entrepreneurs.
In its fifth year, the annual event is organized by TFX Capital, a Charlotte-based venture capital firm. A spokesperson for TFX Capital told WRAL TechWire that the firm’s showcase event “represents the company’s commitment to elevating the resilience, perseverance and grit of B2B technology startup founders who have served in the U.S. military.”
Each year, the event provides participating founders with the opportunity to grow their businesses by competing for cash prizes, as well as their networks by meeting with investors, enterprise executives and ecosystem stakeholders throughout the event.
This year’s event, held Nov. 10, welcomed five startups founded by service-driven, high-performing veteran entrepreneurs, including CommSafe AI and runner up Pathfinder Health.
“The TFX Showcase was an incredible experience. Not only did the $40,000 grand prize leave me speechless, but I’ve already had one prospective customer reach out to me less than 12-hours later, ” said Ty Smith, founder and CEO of CommSafe AI.
CommSafe AI is a technology company on a mission to create safer workplaces by helping to prevent conflict and violence, and promoting mutual respect and a greater commitment to diversity and inclusion. According to the event organizers, the technology built by CommSafe AI is cloud-based software that analyzes employee communications in real-time and uses AI to flag toxic communication so that companies can immediately work to deescalate threats of harassment, discrimination, self-harm, among others.
CommSafe AI took the top spot, as judges selected the company due to their ability to address a critical need in the workplace with the potential for substantial impact across multiple industries, with positive benefits for employees and employers alike.
The judging panel included Karl Hightower, chief data officer of Novant Health, Brian Pope, managing partner of Silverport, and Sam Teden, investor at Anthos Capital.
The panel selected Pathfinder Health as the runner-up, and awarded the company $10,000 in prize money.
“The exposure at the TFX Showcase led to several new connections with potential investors and enterprise customers that we look forward to engaging with,” said Samar Parikh, Pathfinder Health Co-founder and CEO. “The runner up cash prize will help us extend our runway as we continue to grow, innovate our product and provide even more valuable insights to both parents and physicians.”
Pathfinder’s digital platform provides parents with the resources to help them identify developmental concerns early and seek treatment promptly for the best outcome, according to event organizers. According to the company, it does this by giving families evidence-based and clinically validated coaching, monitoring, and screening tools tailored to their own child’s needs. By digitally linking a child’s parents, caregivers, and healthcare providers, data can be efficiently shared for decisive action and immediate follow-on care when appropriate, the company noted in the materials for the event.
“The participating companies and their founders in this year’s Showcase were among some of the most impressive we’ve seen,” said TFX partner, Kevin Eckert. “Their early success and persistent dedication to their work, and their teams, serve as prime examples of why we are relentlessly focused at TFX on supporting and investing in early-stage technology companies founded by service-driven military and national security veterans.”
Other participating companies included:
- Free to Feed, science-based content and products for allergen-free breastfeeding
- Haystack Solutions, cybersecurity hiring solutions
- Lawn Buddy, software to help lawn and landscape professionals easily manage and grow their businesses
“JPMorgan Chase is proud to once again partner with TFX on its 5th Annual Veterans Showcase to recognize these service-driven founders as they push ahead with resilience, perseverance, and grit to build their companies,” said Mark Elliott, Global Head of Military and Veteran Affairs and JPMorgan Chase & Co, who sponsored the event. “Veteran entrepreneurs are trained and ready to solve tough challenges or improve upon existing solutions in the form of the products and companies they create. We commend TFX’s commitment to providing relentless support to veterans and we encourage the entire venture capital ecosystem to do the same.”
In addition to JPMorgan Chase & Co, the other sponsors for this year’s event included Veterans Bridge Home, Akerman, Brown Advisory, Caldwell Partners, Dualboot Partners, Frazier & Deeter, Insperity, Lancaster & Hall, Lavoie, Novant Health, and TIAA.