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Tencar

January 31, 2017 - 11:34am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Tencar, GCEDC, business, batavia.

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The GLOW region isn't exactly a hotbed of venture capital activity, so any founder might find it hard to get that first round of funding that is so critical to the success of a startup.

For a woman founder, statistically speaking at least, the odds of getting that early-stage seed backing is even higher. About 3 percent of all venture-backed companies are headed by female founders.

That makes Batavia's Georgann Carrubba pretty unique. She now has access to $200,000 in seed funding through Launch NY and Excell Partners.

Carrubba was awarded the first $100,000 last year in a startup competition hosted by Launch NY in Rochester. Yesterday, at a press conference at the Innovation Zone in the Med-Tech Center, Carrubba was able to announce that Launch NY and Excell have each agreed to put in another $50,000 apiece.

“We strongly believe our product will be life changing for colostomy and ileostomy patients,” Carrubba said. “These types of investments demonstrate we have a viable medical device that is close to being ready for pilot production. We are extremely grateful to Excell Partners and Launch New York for this investment in our company.”

Launch NY is a state-backed incubator for tech startups in WNY and Excell is venture capital fund created by the state.

The goal of both organizations is to identify promising startups that will be based in New York and have the potential to grow into big businesses that employ lots of people.

"We all know, economic development is a team sport and Georgann has a team behind her," said Theresa B. Mazzullo, CEO of Excell Partners. "We want to be the wind at her back and we want to see her succeed so that this same team is standing up together in the future ringing the bell at NASDAQ."

That kind of growth is certainly Carrubba's goal, who intends to keep her business based in Batavia and manufacture the device she's designed for colostomy and ileostomy patients that she believes will help them enjoy the kind of active lifestyle that can be difficult with current colostomy bags.

She calls her product Choice Cap. Yesterday (pictures below), she showed off the latest design iteration, which is slimmer and more functional that earlier versions.

With the $200,000 in funding, she can begin production and marketing, but to really grow the company, she will need to find second- and third-round investors.  

The latest round of funding comes from a state grant dedicated to funding women-owned startups and Mazzullo said Tencar is the perfect business to receive the fund's support.

"Tencar and Georgann exemplify -- are the poster child for -- why this fund was created," Mazzullo said. "It’s an opportunity to invest in very promising technologies in the region that are women-owned in an area that is going to have job creation. It hits all the high-water marks for what you want in economic development in our region -- promising technology, women-owned, job creation."

Carrubba, a nurse by profession, first came up with the idea for Choice Cap in 2011 and got serious about developing a business in 2014. It's been a long process, she said, but worth the effort. She believes she will make lives better for patients and employ more people locally.  

She's been through tons of meetings, presentations and planning to get to this early-stage funding level, but that's not unusual said Marnie LaVigne, president and CEO of Launch NY. In fact, it's normal.

"A reporter asked me, ‘well, it’s been a long time,’ and, (she replied) 'well, no not really,' " she said. "This is what it is like and a lot of people don’t realize it. Entrepreneurship has become such a cool thing for people to do, but the hard work, and the 24/7, and the angst and the ‘Can I make it through the next step?’ that is something people don’t appreciate fully.”

Carrubba said she knows she's not done with the hard work, but yesterday's announcement was a milestone in the process so far.

"I'm ecstatic," she said. "There are so many strong, qualified, educated people behind me. I could not be happier. It could not have played out any better."

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Theresa B. Mazzullo, CEO of Excell Partners

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Marnie LaVigne, president and CEO of Launch NY

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June 2, 2016 - 1:55pm
posted by Billie Owens in Tencar, business, news.

Press release:

TenCar, a woman-owned medical devices and equipment company founded by Genesee County resident Georgann Carrubba, RN, has launched a crowdfunding campaign as the company looks to start the evaluation and initial manufacturing phase of its Choice Cap product.

Funds generated will be used to build initial evaluation units for further customer feedback prior to pilot production in 2017.

TenCar’s Choice Cap is prosthetic appliance for active-lifestyle colostomy and ileostomy patients. It provides patients with a simple but secure attachment method, which includes a lightweight, airtight, molded waterproof cap to be worn with or without the traditional soft inner pouch. This added protective barrier offers greater resilience to motion and activity, giving the wearer protection against leakage and escaped odors that are common in everyday activities.

TenCar is the first start-up company to come out of the Genesee County Economic Development Center’s Innovation Zone which was launched in 2015. The company is interested inkeeping manufacturing in Batavia.

“We feel a strong obligation to the local community as a result of the great support we have received in getting our company off the ground,” Carrubba said. “We are confident that a crowdfunding initiative will receive similar support as we look to advance the company to next level of growth, which in turn will create new jobs.”

Crowdfunding is commonly used to generate funds and often involves a number of people making donations to a venture or business initiative. Crowdfunding presents the opportunity for individuals to support a company in its early stages of startup to bring their products and/or services into the marketplace. In this instance, those who support TenCar’s crowdfunding will be recognized and acknowledged by the company as well as receive gifts for their support, but will not receive shares in the company.

“While we are a small community we love when one of our own has a great success story to tell and in this instance it’s about someone who has developed an innovative medical product that could lead to the creation of new jobs,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the GCEDC.

Carrubba is a Batavia native and graduate of the Genesee Community College School of Nursing. She has been working with various groups and organizations, including the GCEDC, High Tech Rochester, Launch NY, and the University at Buffalo’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences (CBLS), as well as many other partners at the Innovation Zone at MedTech Center for the past year.

Below are links to the Indiegogo crowdfunding website and a video from TenCardescribing its revolutionary new medical device the Choice Cap System:

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9k6MRnvWpww

Learn more about TenCar’s crowdfunding campaign: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/choice-cap-system-a-better-ostomy-device

April 22, 2016 - 3:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, batavia, news, Tencar, Choice Cap, healthcare.

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Besides a potentially great idea, Georgann Carrubba has one of the key things investors look for in a startup CEO -- passion for an idea that she thinks will make a big change in people's lives.

Though the product she hopes to bring to market is decidedly less sexy than some tech gadget, she thinks her sincerity is what swung a panel of judges in her direction two days ago when they awarded her the $25,000 top prize in the 2016 Rochester Venture Challenge.

The lifelong Batavia resident said she could hardly believe she won, standing on stage in front of 300 people with young men who came to pitch ideas for drones, mobile phones and gaming. 

She had been through this kind of competition before, at Buffalo's 43 North, where tech inventions carried the day.

"I was in complete shock," Carrubba said. "I'm looking at each side of me and it's all technology again. And they're good people and they believe in their products as much as I do, so I was completely caught off my game. When they asked me to speak, I cried. I had to compose myself to say a couple of sentences because I truly did not think we would win. It was a tough competition."

Not only is Carrubba's product less sexy than a tech gadget, it addresses an issue that doesn't even get a lot of attention among the pantheon of people's medical issues that are the subject of telethons, ribbon wearing and 5K races.

We're talking about colostomy and ileostomy patients, people who have bags attached to a hole in their abdomen to collect their bodies' waste.

There are some 800,000 ostomy patients in the United States (perhaps as many as 5 million worldwide), and another 50,000 to 65,000 are given the procedure each year. The surgeries are the results of cancer, disease or accidents and the range of ages includes the very young and the very old.

Up until now, these patients have been saddled with a bulky bag that is prone to leaks and odor and reduced mobility and activity, including sexual activity.

Carrubba became a visiting nurse in 2004 and dealt with many patients who struggled with their ostomy equipment and dealt with the embarrassment of their situation often by avoiding socializing and outside activities. 

She thought in this day and age, why hasn't something better come along?

There had been no significant advance in ostomy care in 60 years.

One evening in 2011, she was sipping coffee at her sister's house and glanced down at a bowl and an idea popped into her head.

"I went home, went to bed, said my prayers and the next day made it in my garage," Carrubba said.

What Carrubba invented -- and secured a patent on -- is a cup-like device that attaches to the diaphragm in the patient's abdominal opening and collects waste. It is secure, airtight and waterproof.

She has a patent pending on a sensor that will be included in the cup so patients will be alerted on an iPhone or iPad when the bag inside the cup needs to be changed.

To go along with the device, called a Choice Cap, patients will be able to purchase biodegradable bags, and perhaps eventually, bags that can be flushed down any toilet, and decorative covers that can match anything from a wedding dress to swimsuit to boxers or a slinky nightgown.

After six design changes in the prototype, Carrubba is ready for the Choice Cap to go through trials with actual patients. Even though the product doesn't require FDA approval, she wants that kind of rigor in the trials so she and her team can collect the feedback and make any design changes  needed before going into production.

She hopes to have the Choice Cap on the market by early 2017.

A journey that began with a spark of inspiration hasn't necessarily been easy or straightforward. Carrubba has never run a business and didn't really know the first thing about starting a business.

She got together with her cousin, Eugene Tenney, an attorney in Buffalo, to help form a company, originally to be called Carten, but it turned out that name wasn't available, so it became Tencar, a company she plans to keep based in Batavia.

She then went to the Innovation Center at the Med-Tech Center, where the Genesee County Economic Development Center staff helped her form an advisory board, provided information and introductions for the startup communities and services in Buffalo and Rochester.

The competitions taught her a lot about the business world, she said, but admits that while she'll remain CEO, she really isn't qualified to be COO or CTO or CFO or any of the other C-suite positions. 

She was particularly grateful to High-Tech Rochester for the training and mentoring program that preceded the competition, and she said the encouragement she received from Theresa Mezzullo and Rami Katz of the investment firm Excell Partners was particularly helpful.

It was Katz who advised Carrubba to just be herself during the pitch, so she showed up in her nurses scrubs and spoke from her heart.

What drivers Carrubba, she said, isn't the allure of entrepreneurial success, or even the potential $2.4 billion domestic market for her product, but the hope of making people's lives better.

"I was never one of those, 'I'm going to invent something and be a millionaire,' " Carrubba said. "No, no, no. I was a nurse. I've always been a nurse. Truth be known, probably a lot of my employers don't like me because I've always been on the side of the patient, whatever is best for the patient. I've always been a patient advocate."

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