Written By Aisling Swift. Six French entrepreneurs representing five companies are visiting the Naples Accelerator and Collier County this week to learn how to do business in Florida, seek investors and partners – and possibly expand here.
Entrepreneurs from the Retis-French Innovation Network, France’s government incubator system, are participating in FACE 12, an in-depth, three-day business and economic development workshop and pitch session coordinated by the Naples Accelerator and the county Office of Business & Economic Development. Helping sponsor the event are the Partnership for Collier’s Future Economy and the Southwest Florida Economic Development Alliance.
The event is designed to teach the startups how to pitch their companies and products to investors and potential partners here, help them forge partnerships and find seed capital. Retis travels here every spring and winter.
“In order to diversify Collier County, we have to explore many options,” said Jace Kentner, director of the Office of Business & Economic Developments. “Because of the large French population, this connection with the French is viable and creates a long-range pipeline for partnerships, investments and business traction.”
It’s the fourth year Retis startups have visited Collier County since partnership talks began in February 2013. The entrepreneurs are accompan
ied by a RETIS representative.
The startups pitched their products in front of a five-judge panel of entrepreneurs: David Scheiffelin, SBA PIO, angel investor, entrepreneur, CFO and managing director of Women’s Leadership Live; Sandra Kauanui, director, Institute for Entrepreneurship at FGCU, Program Chair for Entrepreneurship; Stefan Muehlbauer, a serial entrepreneur, CEO and internet marketing and communications strategist at Arma Communications; Heidi Culbertson, a mobile technology and app expert and co-founder and CEO of Marvee; Steve Walling, founder and chairman of Fusion Pointe, a venture mentoring program
The participating startups are:
- Thalatoo: A dive computer that makes diving masks intelligent. Maoi is the latest in dive computer technology. Intended for recreational diving, the information is displayed directly in the diver’s field of vision.
- Innersense: A mobile application that uses augmented reality and 3-D real-time visualization to transform interior design. Augmented reality allows users to integrate virtual objects into reality. The application allows users to see the object in its position, manipulate it, customize it and turn it around. It doesn’t require a headset and won’t cut off the user from the environment.
- Asystom: Innovative technology for real-time operational monitoring and follow-up of equipment at production sites, laboratories or hospitals. Asystom specializes in the design and manufacturing of intelligent maintenance solutions for industrial and scientific equipment. The startup’s mission is to provide a complete sensor suite, coupled with a data visualization platform, for maintenance monitoring, service optimization, and failure prediction and throughput enhancement for industrial IOT. Having tight control over each step in the process allows Asystom to deliver sustainable solutions, as well as adapt to next-gen technologies as efficiently as possible.
- Nopal Nutra: A rich nopal cactus (prickly pear) extract used for juices, cosmetics and supplements. Nopal Nutra respects people and the environment. From planting in Tunisia to packaging in France, Nopal Nutra is strongly committed to controlling the entire production chain of its products through a sustainable development approach. The product is organic and Fair Trade certified.
- Skinergies: Skinergies provides consumers with a safer daily sun experience. Its scientifically formulated skin care products stimulate the skin’s natural sun defense mechanisms, helping the skin to fend off UV impact and repair photo-damage, without depriving it from the sun’s essential health benefits. Owner Sylvie Giret and her team have worked for beauty and lifestyle brands including: Avon, Bliss, Burt’s Bees, CO Bigelow, Colgate-Palmolive, ErnoLaszlo, Estee Lauder, L’Occitane, Mia, Neutrogena, Searle, Talika, Thierry Mugler. Its first three products are:
● A booster serum for face or body that can be mixed with any daily moisturizer or makeup.
● A scalp and hair mousse to protect the head from harmful UV damage.
● A sunburn heal and repair lotion to turn around and restore skin after sunburn.
Naples Accelerator CEO Marshall Goodman noted that several are a perfect fit for Naples and the Naples Accelerator. “We have an innovative program and have a lot to offer,” Goodman said.
The intent of the Naples Accelerator’s French partnership is to offer the accelerator as a soft-landing zone that provides technical assistance for select French companies willing to develop businesses in Naples and Florida, and to provide Collier County and Florida innovation companies with easy access to French and European business partnerships and international trade.