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Six companies announced to pitch at Beta City

Luke Cooper, founder and CEO of fixt, speaks while giving the company’s product pitch at BetaCity 2016. (Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record)

Luke Cooper, founder and CEO of fixt, speaks while giving the company’s product pitch at BetaCity 2016. (Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record)

Biotech and subscription boxes will take center stage next week at the fourth annual Beta City Venture Capital Pitch Competition with a $25,000 grand prize on the line.

Six Baltimore-area startups were announced Friday as competitors in one of Baltimore’s most-watched pitch competitions. The Beta City event tends to be more than a competition, but also a celebration of the city’s startup ecosystem.

Beta City is put on by incubator and coworking space Betamore at its City Garage location. The sold-out competition kicks off Thursday Oct. 4, at 3 p.m., followed by what Betamore calls the Beta City Main Event, a showcase event featuring demos from startups along with live music and a celebratory atmosphere.

Participants in the pitch competition are often companies with a track record of success that have plans for expansion and growth. Last year Hungry Harvest was on the verge of expansion to North Carolina when it won the competition.

This year three biotech companies, two subscription box companies and one tea startup will look to win the showcase event.

The biotech companies include Avidea Technologies, a company using proprietary nano-scaffold technology to engineer safer and more effective vaccines; Galen Robotics, which is commercializing a microsurgery robot to assist surgeons in minimally-invasive operations; and Sisu Global Health, which is developing patented, clinically proven, high-margin medical devices for emerging markets.

The pitch competition represents an opportunity for Sisu Global Health to run into people it may not encounter on a regular basis, said Katherine Kirsch, co-founder and chief marketing officer of the startup said.

“There’s a lot of resources in Baltimore that are not always apparent,” she said. “I think Baltimore has a lot of interesting resources that are not always connected. I think Beta City is a good opportunity for folks to have an understanding of what’s going on around them.”

Sisu Global Health moved to Baltimore from Michigan and pitched at Beta City a couple of years ago. This year’s competition will give the company a chance to catch the city’s startup ecosystem up on what it has been doing, especially since much of the company’s work is done abroad.

“This is less for VC funding and more for community,” Kirsch said. “We really saw this as an opportunity to update the community, how we’ve opened an office up in Remington, how we’ve kind of expanded within Baltimore.”

The company announced two weeks ago it had closed a $1.2 million funding round. It also plans to launch a Series A round next year.

The subscription box companies pitching the competition are Femly and Hunt A Killer. Femly offers a monthly box with items to help women during their period and other self-care products. Hunt A Killer offers a monthly murder mystery experience and says it reached more than 30,000 subscribers last spring.

Tea startup Zest Tea will also pitch. The company produces high-energy teas as a caffeine replacement for coffee.


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