Pitch your company in 25 minutes or less

vbridges@newsobserver.comNovember 15, 2012 

— Jivan Achreja sat at a long marble table inside a boardroom in the American Tobacco complex Thursday waiting to make his next pitch to advance his company.

Achreja, chief information officer for INRFood (pronounced “inner food”), said he wasn’t nervous.

“I was lucky to have parents who believe in public speaking,” said Achreja, 23, a 2010 UNC-Chapel Hill graduate.

He is pitching INRFood, an app that at its most basic level allows users to scan a food product’s bar code for a list of ingredients that are color coded – green means safe, yellow means moderation, and red means avoid – to alert the consumer of customizable dietary restrictions that result from allergies, pregnancy and disease.

Achreja’s pitch was one of about a dozen made in Raleigh and Durham boardrooms during Triangle Entrepreneurship Week, which ends Friday. The five-day event, which seeks to connect local entrepreneurs to resources, capital and collaborators that will help them move their companies forward, started three years ago in Washington.

About four of the 12 companies that pitched in the Triangle last year received funding, co-founder Jon Leonardo said.

On Thursday, Achreja was one of nearly 20 people sitting at the table in venture capital firm Intersouth Partners’ boardroom. At the end of the table sat the investor – Grant Allen, vice president of ABB Technology Ventures, the venture capital arm of ABB, the Zurich-based engineering conglomerate with operations on Centennial Campus in Raleigh.

The week’s pitches were done in a 5-15-5 format: each startup got a five-minute pitch, a 15-minute back-and-forth with Allen, and a five-minute discussion among the larger group.

First up was Robert Rice, founder and CEO of LocalSense, which seeks to help businesses better utilize social media by allowing customers to earn points and access deals for their online interactions with local businesses and brands. Achreja went second. Michelle Harper, senior product manager with Home Care Software Solutions, was third.

“We sell medical software and billing services to home health hospice and private duty agencies,” Harper said.

When Allen turned to Achreja, he went into the pitch, talking fast but steady.

“We wanted to be the first app out there to sort of tackle what is going on with food from an ingredient perspective,” he said.

To achieve this, the company, with four full-time employees and a handful of part-timers, has established a database with about 250,000 products and 17,000 ingredients, and hired nutritionists and dietitians to research them. In its current form, the app is free for 30 days, and then requires a one-time payment of $2.99.

The feedback, from Allen and others, was positive. Allen said he likes that the product offers a two-step process to build the company. On the front end, INRFood can sell access to the app and additional services. On the back end, it can sell the collected data and related information.

Allen said he planned to share information about Home Care Software Solutions, which asked for a $4.8 million investment to expand its existing service, with investors at a larger fund, and talk to his angel investor group, NextGen Partners, about investing in INRFood.

Bridges: 919-829-8917

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