Two New Hampshire tech startups were selected as winners of the eighth annual TechOut competition on Thursday, November 14. The winners of the NH Tech Alliance’s (Alliance) 2019 TechOut competition, Clairways and Aisling Organics, were awarded $150,000 each in investment capital funded by the Millworks Fund II.
“For eight years, the Alliance’s TechOut competition has been a platform for startups to gain exposure and meet fellow entrepreneurs throughout the state,” said Julie Demers, executive director, NH Tech Alliance. “The rebrand from the last year from the NH High Tech Council to the NH Tech Alliance further emphasizes that it takes a community coming together to continue building up the tech ecosystem in New Hampshire.”
The event featured four finalists pitching their products to a live audience of fellow like-minded innovators, entrepreneurs and investors. A distinguished panel of judges comprised of business experts, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists chose and announced the winners at the end of the event.
“All these partners come together to help foster new startups and new ideas across the board,” said Gary Sloper, co-chair of the TechOut Committee. “Applicants came from different areas and sectors, which is impressive for such a tight ecosystem in New Hampshire. It just goes to show that winners, like Aisling who has been here multiple times, continue that edgy, scrappy feel of what New Hampshire is.”
Aisling Organics, a 2018 TechOut competition finalist, is an organic cosmetics company that is a high-performance, safe alternative to conventional cosmetics. The company’s product is formulated with crushed plants and herbs, which makes it last longer on skin and enables the company to offer brighter pigments. Aisling capitalizes on one of the fastest-growing beauty segments and uses technology to give its brand an edge by selling direct to consumers.
“I’m so grateful for this achievement,” said Krysta Lewis, CEO of Aisling Organics. “We were here at TechOut last year and didn’t make it as a winner, but this year we did. It’s just proof in the pudding that when you put your mind to something and don’t give up, eventually you will achieve it.”
Clairways is developing a wearable lung function monitor for respiratory clinical trials. In New Hampshire, one in eight residents live with a chronic respiratory disease such as asthma, COPD or Cystic Fibrosis. Because of this growing problem, pharmaceutical companies invest $1.7 billion annually into clinical trials for new respiratory therapeutics. However, today’s methods of capturing respiratory metrics are either subjective and unreliable or too difficult and burdensome for patients. Clairways is a smart lung monitor built around a small, chest-worn sensor that captures all respiratory metrics for clinical trials.
“We are absolutely thrilled to have been awarded by the NH Tech Alliance,” said Jeff Bemowski, CEO of Clairways. “This will be very meaningful and will get us to the next stage to succeed as a company.”
“We are excited to continue to help the entrepreneurial ecosystem grow in New Hampshire and can’t wait to keep on funding and advising great businesses,” said Elizabeth Hitchcock, partner at Millworks Fund Series II, a partnership among New Hampshire investors and the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority.
TechOut is open to startups that have been in business for fewer than five years, raised less than $250,000 in funding and have less than $250,000 in revenue. Sponsors for the 2019 competition included: UBS, Q7, Cook, Little, Rosenblatt and Manson, Sheehan Phinney, Brady Sullivan Properties, Meltwater, Slavic 401k, Clark Insurance, miEdge, the Entrepreneurs’ Fund of New Hampshire, Burnstein Shur and New Hampshire Business Review.