Three ACA Member Portfolio Companies Named as Finalists for Ingenuity Award


By Sarah Dickey, ACA Membership Director

Three amazing companies funded by ACA members are finalists for the Luis Villalobos Award, honoring companies for ingenuity, creativity and innovation. The companies are:

  • Aquacycl LLC – San Diego (nominated by Next Wave Ventures and also funded by the San Diego Angel Conference)
  • GrandPad – Orange, CA (nominated by Tech Coast Angels and funded as well by Pasadena Angels and Harvard Business School Angels)
  • Joylux – Seattle (nominated by Alliance of Angels and also funded by numerous ACA member groups:  Golden Seeds, Houston Angel Network, Puget Sound Venture Club, Belle Capital, Keiretsu Forum Northwest, Keiretsu Capital Fund, South Coast Angel Network, Portfolia and Sofia Angel Fund)

The award is in honor of Luis Villalobos, who founded the Tech Coast Angels in 1997.  Luis was a leader in the angel investing arena by making 57 personal angel investments, educating angels and always looking to invest in and mentor the most innovative companies.  Luis was a true “leading light” in the angel community. The finalists will be presented at the 2019 ACA Summit in Chicago and the winner will be announced at an awards ceremony on the morning of April 25.  Here’s more about the companies – congrats to each of them!

Aquacycl is changing the game for high-strength wastewater management and distributed wastewater treatment. The Aquacycl BioElectrochemical Treatment Technology (BETT™) is a modular, plug-n-play, system that can remove up to 95% of organic contaminates from food and beverage wastewater prior to discharge. The BETT™ systems operate onsite at customer facilities and can eliminate up to 80% of primary sludge, energy recovery as direct electricity to self-power (no methane), and production of irrigation quality water from some wastewater streams. Successful pilots have been operating for 3+ years in swine farm and residential applications.

In her nomination of Aquacycl, Next Wave Ventures’ Silvia Mah wrote: “Aquacycl CEO Orianna Bretschger has spent 15 years researching the bacteria that are at the core of her technology, creating an innovative modular microbial fuel cell - having 5 patents. She is a brilliant scientist and she has been able to innovate a modular system that can be placed at any location that needs to manage their waste water. The ingenuity of creating a lego block system of smaller micro fuel cells into a larger storage container that can significantly reduce the organics of a waste water stream AND be operated by anyone, is transformational. Every cylinder of bacteria within the small fuel cell box is remotely monitored and cane be identified and replaced within 1-2 hours.”

GrandPad’s mission is to improve the lives of millions of seniors by reconnecting them with family, friends, and caregivers. The GrandPad—the first tablet specifically designed for seniors—comes ready to use out of the box and features a secure private family network and premium US based customer service. Upon delivery, a 90-year-old can access and enjoy the GrandPad in less than 90 seconds. The tablet arrives fully charged and does not require passwords nor configuration. Utilizing a large wireless charging cradle and 4G LTE data connection, the lightweight tablet can be pre-loaded by family members with photos and music.  The front-facing speakers allow seniors to hear others during calls or listen to music without the need for headphones.

John Harbison of Tech Coast Angels nominated the company.  He wrote, “Technology has transformed the lives of billions of people who have made smartphones and tablets an essential part of their lives, giving them access to knowledge, entertainment and connectivity to friends at their fingertips. But seniors have been left out since these devices are just too complicated for them to use. The resulting loneliness is a major quality of life issue for our seniors, and GrandPad solves that with an interface and experience that is meticulously designed with their needs in mind – no set up, no buttons, no charging cords and tiny plugs - and simplicity embedded throughout with meticulous care. GrandPad is also the gateway for health care professionals and care givers to monitor and interact with the seniors. As Luis taught me, the key to a great investment is solving significant pain points in ways that others have not.”

Joylux is a women's health technology company creating innovative solutions addressing common pelvic floor issues. It is estimated that 50% of adult women experience pelvic floor issues due to hormonal changes and weak muscle/tissue tone caused by childbirth, aging and menopause. They make the first affordable, home use, energy-based devices for indications including pain, discomfort and embarrassment (muscle weakening, stress incontinence and loss of vaginal tone, sensation and lubrication). The company’s products can improve tone, tighten and restore vaginal tissue and muscles for improved bladder control, reduce vaginal dryness and help create better intimate health.

In his nomination of Joylux, Peter Weiss of the Alliance of Angels wrote, “Addressing problems frequently resulting from pregnancy and menopause, American women spend upwards of $1,500 a year on incontinence pads; as much as $80 per month for prescription estrogen creams and other vaginal dryness products; or about $4000 on multi-visit in-office medical treatments.  Many women experience poor bladder control, vaginal dryness and pain and declining intimate health after childbirth, conditions which are often exacerbated with the onset of menopause.  CEO and founder Colette Courtion drew on the knowledge and experience she gained building a chain of aesthetic spas to create an affordable way to address these problems with a first of its kind home use device.  The Joylux technology combines specific light frequencies with heat and sonic vibration.  Thousands of women are using Joylux’s devices and report excellent results.”  

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