(by Milt Capps, Venture Tennessee) DataFlyte, the Knoxville provider of technology and services for reading utilities’ meters from airborne platforms, “just locked-down our first round” of capital, said Jack Dischner, its CEO, president and majority owner.
Dischner told VNC the company raised $450K of an original $600K goal, with $400K of that from Blank Slate Ventures (BSV), based in Chattanooga. The cap table now has about 10 individuals and entities, including Dischner and co-founder Dan Morse, an attorney and technologist.
That cap-table tally may be about to change, again. Dischner and his board of directors meeting today to consider terms offered on Friday by another Chattanooga investor, which would likely take the total raise to $650K, including previous investment by BSV, friends and founders. This story will be updated, as warranted.
Asked how DataFlyte equity ended-up in Chattanooga, Dischner said, “We had numerous meetings here and they did not come to fruition.” Few potential investors truly appreciate what a distraction protracted capital raises, with important pitches sometimes coming several times in a week, are for entrepreneurial management teams, said Dischner.
He pitched in 13 meetings before being introduced to BSV by Knoxville-based Geoff Robson, a business-development and investment advisor (3 Degrees Business Development).
Not far along into the meeting at BSV, Dischner said he recognized that BSV co-founder and lead investor Lex Tarumianz understood DataFlyte. The meeting ended.
About “10 minutes” into his drive back to Knoxville, Dischner’s cellphone range. It was BSV saying, “We’re in.” The deal closed in July, Dischner recalled. BSV shows a baker’s-dozen investments on its portfolio page, including an exit.
It was not the first time in Tennessee’s new era of Seed investment that an East Tennessee startup has been spared thirsting to death in the pre-revenue Valley of Death. Chattanooga-based Swiftwing Ventures recently invested $686K in Survature, a Knoxville SaaS survey-tool provider.
Dischner said the potential new Chattanooga investor is not BSV, and declined to disclose the group. TVC research suggests strong logic for the party being either Swiftwing or Chattanooga Renaissance Fund.
DataFlyte offerings allow utilities to virtually eliminate employees’ on-foot reading of electronic automated meters, by using multiple antennae to read meters from airplaines, helicopters, drones or hot-air balloons, said Dischner.
Without DataFlyte, he continued, a utility with 20K-30K meters in its service area would have to dedicate about 40 man-days to each cycle of meter reading, and obviating the need for personal checks saves utilities and their rate-payers very large amounts. Data is produced within about six hours for customer review and is presented in comprehensive, coherent form, said Dischner.