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Level Up Pitch Competition: Three Vegas Startups Shaping the Futureby@sarahevans
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Level Up Pitch Competition: Three Vegas Startups Shaping the Future

by sarahevansMarch 18th, 2024
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The Las Vegas tech community gathered for the Level Up pitch competition, hosted by [StartupVegas](https://startup.vegas/). A testament to the region's growing influence in the tech world, the event featured three startups: Photon, Capattery, and AeroAI. Each company showcased their potential to heavily influence their respective industries.
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This past weekend, the Las Vegas tech community gathered for the Level Up pitch competition, hosted by StartupVegas. A testament to the region's growing influence in the tech world, the event featured three startups—Photon, Capattery, and AeroAI—each company’s CEO sharing how their company is part of the future of technology and where they are in their fundraising process. More than demonstrating their capacity to significantly impact their industries, these presentations shed light on the crucial role such competitions play in fostering the growth and collaboration within local tech ecosystems.

Illuminating Innovation with Photon

Photon emerged as a standout with its innovative approach to wireless connectivity through LiFi technology. The company's CEO highlighted how LiFi's LED-based data transmission not only promises faster and more secure connections but also positions Photon at the forefront of a telecommunications revolution. With its focus on energy efficiency and the promise of high-speed, secure data transmission, Photon is not just reimagining connectivity; it's actively shaping the future of how we connect, underlining the potential for significant industry impact and its readiness to scale with investor support.

Courtesy: Photon


Under the guidance of a stellar leadership team including COO/CMO Mike Fasulo, former President & COO of Sony; CEO Francois Modarresse, former VP of Dolby with experience in eight M&As; and CPO/CTO Didier Zwierski, former CTO of Philips TV and Technicolor, Photon is driven by a wealth of industry expertise. With over 15 extended team members, four advisors, and more than ten partner companies, Photon is well-equipped to navigate the telecommunications landscape.


Currently, Photon is in the midst of a $2 million funding round, offering a SAFE (Simple Agreement for Future Equity) convertible to Series A. This financial instrument carries a 6% interest rate, a 15% discount, and is capped at $9 million, reflecting the company's strong potential for growth and investor confidence in their groundbreaking LiFi technology.

Powering the Future with Capattery

Under CEO Gopi Latpate's guidance, Capattery is challenging traditional energy storage paradigms with its graphene-based technology. Capattery's pitch highlighted not only their revolutionary graphene manufacturing process but also their strategic plans for expansion and funding. With a patent-pending method for producing graphene from graphite at the lowest cost, Capattery stands at the forefront of energy storage innovation. Their technology enables rapid charging, with cells reaching a 100% state of charge (SOC) in less than 20 minutes and 80% SOC in less than 15 minutes. This efficiency is demonstrated in commercial vehicle tests, showing a 1.3 times increase in mileage for the same capacity.


Courtesy: Capattery

The company's proprietary slurry material enhances the stability of chemical reactions with graphene, further evidenced by their state-of-the-art pilot production and R&D facility. With plans to produce 2000 tons of graphene by FY2026 out of Las Vegas, Capattery is on a clear path to significant industry impact.


To support these ambitious goals, Capattery is raising $3 million in funding to complete commercial pilots in India, initiate new pilots internationally, bolster the senior management team, enhance R&D, and lay the groundwork for a 180 MT graphene production plant and a 100 MWH cell production facility. This funding will be raised through a convertible note with a valuation cap of $30 million or a 25% discount in the subsequent round, whichever is lower.

AeroAI: From UNLV Innovation to National Market

Originating from a win at the UNLV President's Innovation Challenge in 2022, AeroAI has rapidly evolved with a mission to transform the built economy through high-precision aerial data and digital twin technology. Their approach addresses the critical inefficiencies of traditional data collection methods in construction, which are often slow and prone to errors, leading to escalated costs and project delays. AeroAI’s solution offers a new avenue to mitigate these challenges by enhancing decision-making and operational efficiency.


Courtesy: AeroAI


CEO Victory Igbinobaro of AeroAI talked about making spatial data more accessible and enhancing various applications while also opening new avenues for geospatial data utilization. The company’s go-to-market strategy includes targeted digital marketing, webinars, industry conferences, and trade shows, coupled with direct sales and partnerships with key players across targeted sectors. Their revenue model encompasses a mix of freemium and subscription services for their geospatial digital twin software, transactional and subscription-based offerings for customized drone solutions, and additional revenue streams through commission and pay-per-use models for advanced analytics tools.


With an impressive suite of beta users exceeding 1000 and over 700 letters of intent and marketing qualified leads, AeroAI demonstrates a strong market interest in their solutions. The company has successfully raised $120k in non-dilutive funding and operates on a post-revenue basis, showcasing a robust entry into the market and a promising future ahead. Their calculated customer acquisition cost (CAC) of $275 further exemplifies their efficient market penetration strategy.


The Level Up pitch competition by StartupVegas has show tremendous growth within the Las Vegas tech ecosystem. By highlighting the ambitious paths of startups every month, the competition underscores the vital role such platforms play in supporting tech innovation and fostering community engagement. As these startups progress in their fundraising efforts and continue to develop their technologies, they not only contribute to their industries but also reinforce Las Vegas's position in the tech industry.