Startup business pitches for a high-tech knee-support sleeve and a match-making job platform for colleges win at PowerMoves Miami.
*In the photograph above, Morgan Stanley Vice Chairman of Global Wealth Management, Carla Harris (2nd from right) hosts a discussion among startup founders during a "Disruptors Showcase" at PowerMoves Miami.
Every entrepreneur has had that “aha” moment, when some incident in life sparks the idea that could potentially turn into the next hot tech startup.
For Chadley Guerrier, it was the sickening sight of NBA Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose writhing in pain on the court, clutching his right knee. Rose had torn his medial meniscus ligament, after only having just recovered from blowing out his anterior cruciate ligament in the left.
It’s just so frustrating to see such a young athlete with so much potential being plagued by persistent injuries,” says Guerrier. “I thought that there must be something out there that can help prevent these recurring injuries. And that’s really where the idea behind RadiFit and our knee sleeve began.” Guerrier, along with Chris Wilson and Samuel Bryant, is a co-founder of the minority-run medtech company, which last month won the Morgan Stanley-sponsored Demo Day Pitch Competition staged by PowerMoves.NOLA.
RadiFit designed its sleeve to prevent injuries by monitoring the knee in real-time. When the user puts too much force on the joint, the device kicks in, automatically reinforcing the knee to keep it aligned, making it less likely to tear or damage the three main ligaments that keep the knee in place. A software component also will suggest that the user rest, given too much strain on the knee.
RadiFit’s co-founders looked at PowerMoves as much-needed support to get pitch-ready, meet venture capitalists, and develop connections with other entrepreneurs willing to help one another.
“We’ve developed strong relationships that continue far past the event itself,” says Bryant. “For young entrepreneurs of color, meeting people in person is essential. We need the exposure and contacts. That’s the value PowerMoves brings.”
RadiFit went through the PowerMoves six-week boot-camp program, where the co-founders received advice from successful entrepreneurs and investors. “It helped redirect our business strategy and gave our pitches more direction and clarity. We also gained advice on how to grow the company and the best ways to position ourselves to gain seed money,” says Bryant.
Every startup would like this kind of help, but PowerMoves President and CEO Earl Robinson argues that minorities need it more than anyone else. He says recent studies show that only about 2% of all venture capital goes to under-represented entrepreneurs.
Morgan Stanley provides winners of its sponsored competitions with prize money, and sees the nonprofit as a way to develop strong ties between contestants. “PowerMoves provides more than capital—it creates a dialogue, not just between startups and investors, but among entrepreneurs of color sharing similar challenges,” says Carla Harris, Morgan Stanley Managing Director, Senior Client Advisor, and Vice Chairman of Global Wealth Management.
Chris Motley, co-founder and CEO of Better Weekdays, agrees. “PowerMoves helps raise visibility for individuals like us who have dedicated themselves to an idea. The visibility PowerMoves provides is an even bigger value than the prize money.”
Better Weekdays, which Motley describes as “eHarmony for recruiting,” won Morgan Stanley’s Series A Pitch Competition and prize money. The mobile platform for college career centers matches students and graduates with job leads that require their specific skills. It also serves as a much-needed database for job availability in various disciplines.
PowerMoves Miami received a $1.2 million investment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and additional support from the Case Foundation, Morgan Stanley, and others. PowerMoves.NOLA, which launched in 2014, has helped 128 US startups secure more than $17 million in capital.