October 11, 2022 BACK
Presenting This Month:
Laura Godfrey, Bookelicious
Weston Seid, Oppti
Joe Rinehart, Perceptive Medical, Inc.
Featured in this issue:
C360 Technologies via Evan Wimer
Kenji Funahashi, Pasadena Angels Member
This month, after a brief summary of the companies presenting on Wednesday, you'll find the story of C360 Technologies and a profile of a Pasadena Angels member, Ken Funahashi.
Startups Presenting Wednesday, October 12th
Location Palo Alto, CA
Presenter: Laura Godfrey, CEO/Founder
Bookelicious’ ecommerce platform feeds kid’s passion for reading by featuring a professionally curated selection of high-quality, diverse books and a gamified, AI-driven experience that personalizes the matching of high-interest books to readers.
Location San Francisco, CA
Presenter: Weston Seid, CEO/Founder
Backed by Google and partnering with Fortune 1000 like Johnson & Johnson to train the future of work through internships.
COMPANY: Perceptive Medical, Inc.
Location Newport Beach, CA
Presenter: Joe Rinehart, CEO/Founder
Automating blood pressure management in the operating room and intensive care unit to eliminate patient injury from preventable hypotension.
Congratulations to past Pasadena Angel Member Diane Ratican, who has been getting rave reviews for her recent book:
This is now available on Amazon. Alliance Francaise de Los Angeles has selected Diane to be the 2022 recipient of the prize for an Anglophone personality who is a Friend of French Culture and the French Language.
C360 Technologies and the Truth about Immersive Video
If you watch NFL Football, like 120 million other Americans each week, you have seen C360 in action. Those incredible replays at the goal line - or the sidelines at the first down marker - those are C360. They make the cameras and the software that enables those tiny cameras embedded in pylons and first down markers to zoom across the field.
The beauty of C360 is that they capture the best part of sports: the extreme edge of human physical capabilities meeting the blossoming capability to measure balls and cleats touching grass and crossing lines, both real and imagined. When you really want to know if the ball crossed the line before the elbow touched, it’s C360 you’ll want to consult.
MNF highlights C360's "line of gain" cameras.
Evan Wimer co-founded C360 back in 2009. He didn’t invent the pylon-cam, and C360 wasn’t the first to put cameras in helmets and cars. However, back then, the level of technology was a roadblock, not an enabler, so Evan focused less on the technology and more on the applications and the users. C360 spent years getting to know the networks and the leagues. They talked to the production teams and learned how they used the technology, and they developed a vision of how “immersive video” could work and enhance the viewing experience.
It was around 2017 that the technology finally started to catch up. Very small, very high definition cameras and the capture and transmission of massive amounts of data became feasible. All the pieces were in place, so Evan and C360 went out and raised money in a Series A round, with Pasadena Angels and Boeing Horizon X participating.
From there, things took off. C360 won contracts with leagues networks, and their technology started to show up on Monday Night Football and NASCAR races, among others. Then, COVID hit. There was one unforgettable day in March 2020 when it seemed like a switch flipped. Sports shut down, Tom Hanks revealed that he had COVID and everything changed. On that day, Evan got a call from ESPN. They told him that they were shutting down the broadcast, and Evan had to get his people and technology out of there within the hour.
At that moment, sports made up 100% of C360’s revenue. There was a high likelihood that they would have zero revenue for an indefinite period of time. That is, until Evan learned on that same exact day that C360 had been awarded a seven-figure SBIR grant from the Air Force. Suddenly, aerospace and defense was a significant source of revenue, and the company’s engineers pivoted immediately and for the next 18 months. When one door closes, another opens…
Aerospace and defense now makes up 25% of the company’s revenue, and since raising funding, C360 has been growing 2-3x per year. With only 18 full time employees (and 30-40 contractors), C360 has won multi-year contracts for the vast majority of the pylon applications.
The applications in sports are growing and evolving rapidly, and C360 is leading the charge. They hold 17 different patents around immersive video. They can now capture video at 25 times HD video at a 200 degree angle. Using software, they can push in, tilt, correct for warping and pull HD-quality video out of different parts of a video. They can display a player’s foot near the out-of-bounds line and also show the ball at the same moment as it crosses the goal line.
When I first heard “immersive,” I thought it meant putting cameras in interesting places, like cockpits, helmets and pylons. It’s way more than that. They now capture the coordinates in space for the ball (or puck) and all the players. They can point cameras at them all and follow them in space. And, Evan assures me, before the end of the NHL season, fans will be able to follow individual players during a game, and view the puck from multiple cameras as it touches sticks and crosses lines. “Immersive” means being able to view right into the action, as if you were on the field. Before C360, pylon cameras were stationary views. Now they can track the ball, zoom in and see significantly more.
Evan sees sports moving away from the traditional broadcast and towards an interactive viewing experience, with Direct to Consumer applications that will transform the experience. C360 is leading the way. They’ve already covered all the domestic leagues and are just starting to explore international markets. Right now, C360 is a familiar player within the broadcast industry, but in the near future, Evan expects them to be a household term. Sports will never be the same.
Just last year, Ken Funahashi found himself facing a situation most of us would dread. He was floating alone in the cold Pacific ocean in the dark. Lights in the distance indicated the direction of land, but Ken wasn’t looking that way. He was staring out to sea, looking for the next set to roll in. One of Ken’s weekend rituals is to get up long before dawn and drive from Pasadena to the coast with his surfboard to catch a few waves before the sun comes up and return before his son wakes up. It’s a passion of his, and one that intersects with angel investing in several ways.
Ken Funahashi in his dry suit.
Maybe you already guessed that Ken was born and raised in Wisconsin. His parents moved from Japan in the 1960s, and Ken was the first in his family born in the United States. He went to college in Philadelphia and then returned to Wisconsin for his JD/MBA. It wasn’t until he finished grad school that he settled in California, initially in San Diego in the mid-90s, to practice law. It was his fondness for debate and public speaking in high school that sparked his interest in the study of law and international relations. It also extended to people working together in organizations and companies, and it included how they chose to govern and fund their cooperative ventures. Today, he applies that training to advising Southern California startups, and venture capital firms around the world in connection with U.S. legal issues relating to their operations, capital raising and M&A strategies.
It turns out that surfing has elements in common with angel investing. Both require patience. You have to wait for a set to roll in, and then when it does, you have to be ready. You have to have discernment to pick the right wave, and the judgment to be positioned properly. And, you have to get the timing right. Patience, judgment, preparation, positioning and timing - they all also equally apply to investing.
In addition, surfing in different countries around the Pacific Rim has helped Ken get attuned to the culture of surfing and how it crosses borders. People from different countries around the Pacific may be from wildly different cultures, but if you only look at the ones in wetsuits who are paddling on surfboards, they are culturally very similar, at least while they’re in the water. Universally, they’ll recognize a newbie and try to guide them away from a dangerous break. They’ll also respect the lineup and defer to the more experienced, local surfers.
And that led to an interesting parallel with Pasadena Angels, which, like every other organization, has a culture of its own. Ken described it as collegial and enthusiastic, and just like with surfing, the more experienced members are very willing to guide the newer members, to be helpful in many ways and steer them away from danger when appropriate. When I suggested that the Pasadena Angels benefits from having lots of accomplished people with many different areas of specialization, he agreed but offered that there was more than that. The organization and senior members carry lots of embedded knowledge about the “how” of angel investing. Practices honed over thousands of meetings and countless investments can benefit all the members, including the newest ones. And, that’s another way that surfing is like investing: ultimately there’s only one rider on the board, just like each investor cuts their own check, but they’re all better off by being part of a team that helps each other.
September '22 (not July again): Wood Sears (Autio) and Mike Krebs
July: Open Sesame (Steve Lyons) and James Schaefer
June: HavenLock (Alex Bertelli) and Anil Jha
May: Discotech (Ian Chen) and Gary Awad
April: Sashee Chandran, Seatrec and Susan Marki
March: Yezin Taha, Spine Align and Jamie Bennett
February: Phoenix Gonzalez, Repurpose and Marcus Filipovich
January: Ksenia Yudina, BeTheBeast and Larry Uhl
November '21: Roy LaManna, TotSquad and John Keatley
October: Dr. Chorom Pak of LynxBio and former president Al Schneider
September: Luk Network, Brandon Cavalier and Nancy Dandridge
July: Electrum, Jose Gomez and Julie Pantiskas
June: Ready, Set, Food, Dr. Mirianas Chachisvilis and Joseph Pitruzzelli
May: MagicLinks, Christopher Hussain and Janice Orlando
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We hope you enjoyed this edition of the Pasadena Angels Monthly Newsletter. Any suggestions for future pieces, questions or comments? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dave de Csepel
Chairman, Pasadena Angels