Sponsored by AngelPolleNation and Avisen Legal, P.A., the Piranha Pool (R) 2019 event is Minnesota's own annual live take on the TV series "Shark Tank." During the session, three local tech startup companies will make a 10-minute investment pitch to, and answer 5 minutes of Q&A from, a panel of experienced, local tech investors. The event winner as selected by the panel gets an automatic berth to present to 50+ local investors at the Thursday, June 20 Gopher Angels meeting. Confirmed returning Piranhas are well-known local investors Ed Cannon, Cathy Connett and David Russick.
To apply as a presenting company, please send your investment deck (in widescreen PowerPoint pptx format) for consideration to Jeffrey C. Robbins at Avisen Legal, P.A. -- firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ed Cannon is CEO of Zivix, a multi-patented fingertip-sensing technology for use in real musical instruments and peripheral devices. Ed spent the first years of his career with the Westinghouse Power Systems group before leaving and co-founding Cannon Technologies in 1987. As CEO of this start-up, he lead the team to sales in excess of $100 Million and 150 employees. Cannon Technologies was one of the first truly smart-grid companies, helping electric utilities better manage demand response, substation automation and smart meters. Cannon Technologies was acquired by Cooper Industries (NYSE: CBE) and is an integral part of their Energy Automation Solutions group today. Ed holds a BSEE from South Dakota State University and was honored by them as Distinguished Engineer 2007. He is also an Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Minnesotas Carlson School of Management.
Cathy Connett is CEO and managing partner of Sofia Fund, which invests in high-growth women-lead businesses. She is also president and founder of CorConnections, which specializes in guiding businesses through new business initiatives, equity infusions, ownership transitions, and the building of alliances and partnerships. Cathy has served as the director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of St. Thomas and, for the last 19 years, helped initiate multiple programs to support the entrepreneurial community, including the Minnesota Seed Capital Network, Women to Women (W2W) investment group and the Sofia Angel Fund. She has also served twice as a judge for the regional Ernst &Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards. Cathy has served on a number of private company boards, including Smarte Carte, Hot Shot Products, Woodland Container Corporation and Vixar and non-profit boards including MDI, Minnesota Project Innovation and the Harvard Business School Alumni Association, where she chaired the board, which serves the 65,000-member international alumni community. Cathy’s formal education includes an engineering degree from Vanderbilt University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. She has a diverse operational background in all functional areas, in union and non-union environments and in a wide range of B2B industries and marketplaces. Her experience includes roles at large companies such as Procter & Gamble, Boise Cascade and 3M as well as within start-up and small private companies.
David Russick is an established entrepreneur and angel investor. Russick is co-founder, Managing Director, and Board Member of Gopher Angels, an investment organization dedicated to supporting entrepreneurship and early stage businesses in the state of Minnesota and throughout the Midwest. Russick currently serves as Director of Scalability and Sourcing for Mighty Spark Food Co. Previously, Russick was founder and President of TUBS, Inc., a family owned waste and recycling business operating in the Twin Cities, Denver and Cleveland, Russick also co-founded Bagster, LLC., a nationwide waste services company. He served as President and Board Member prior to Bagster’s acquisition by a Fortune 500 company. In addition, Russick serves on the Board of Advisors for the Dakota Venture Group and on the Business Advisory Group for the University of Minnesota’s Office for Technology Commercialization. Russick has been featured in the “Star Tribune,” “Twin Cities Business,” and the “Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal.” “Twin Cities Business” named him a “2014 People to Know – Finance.” In 2010, Bagster was named by “Ad Age” as one of the 10 Hottest Brands in the U.S. TUBS, Inc. was selected by City Business in 1998 as a “50 Fastest Growing Private Company.” Russick is a patent holder and a graduate of the University of South Dakota. He earned a Master of International Management degree from the Thunderbird School of Global Management with studies at Oxford University, Oxford England.
Jeffrey C. Robbins is an attorney with the business law boutique Avisen Legal, P.A. in Minneapolis, Minnesota. For 36 years, he has represented entrepreneurs who start and grow technology-based enterprises and angel and venture investors who target those companies. He is a serial entrepreneur himself, having founded two companies in the entertainment ticketing industry. Jeff represents high-growth, high-potential private enterprises and publicly traded companies. In 2011, he founded AngelPolleNation, a networking organization for investors that holds quarterly events in the Twin Cities. He serves as an advisory board member to Gopher Angels, a Minneapolis-based investor network. Jeff is also a judge for the annual statewide Minnesota Cup business plan competition. He is a board member of Venture Academy, a Minneapolis charter school focused on developing entrepreneurial leadership skills for its students, and of the Minnesota Jewish Theater Company, and also serves on the Business Advisory Group for the University of Minnesota's Office of Technology Commercialization. Jeff was named in 2011 as one of “200 Minnesotans You Should Know” by Twin Cities Business magazine.
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