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The next big start-up

By Peter Rosen | Posted - Feb 27th, 2013 @ 10:15am

PARK CITY — The future of David Greenholtz' company comes down to just 10 minutes — a 10-minute answer to one question: Why should someone give Greenholtz $1 million?

David and Aimee Greenholtz lived in Los Angeles, where he ran his own business selling mortgages and she worked with diabetes nonprofits. But they decided to make a big change.

The couple moved to Park City and started a company called KeyVive (pronounced key-veev), which sells an online wellness program for people who are diabetic or pre-diabetic.

Aimee has diabetes, and David's father died from complications from the disease when David was 19. The two cases illustrate how to and how not to manage the disease.

"His diabetes management was a candy bar in the glove box," David said of his father.

Aimee Greenholtz, on the other hand, hikes and bikes and serves up a lot of vegetarian meals.

"It changed my life and, I have to say, strangely enough, in a good way: it forced me to get really healthy," she said.

It changed my life and, I have to say, strangely enough, in a good way: it forced me to get really healthy

–Aimee Greenholtz

The wellness program, Healthful Diabetes, puts the lessons learned into practice with diet management and downloadable exercise programs.

KeyVive is a small startup. The Greenholtzes and two employees work out of a cramped office in downtown Park City, but they want to grow.

They have a national brand now that they've partnered with workout video celebrity Kathy Smith, and they see great opportunity in the Affordable Care Act, which mandates that insurance companies begin reimbursing diabetic patients for wellness programs in 2014.

The search for investors

In search of investors, the Greenholtzes went to the Wayne Brown Institute, a nonprofit venture accelerator, and applied for the Investor's Choice Conference.

CEO Brad Bertoch said most applicants are early-stage companies with less than $1 million in sales.

"They look like very small companies that you would wonder if they're a real company, because they're oftentimes three or four people not taking salaries that are devoting their resources to making this business move forward," he said.

KeyVive passed a screening process and was assigned a team of mentors — experts in finance, management team development, sales and marketing, and other areas — who, over several weeks, helped refine the company's business plan and the all-important 10-minute pitch David Greeholtz presents before audiences of potential investors.

"In 10 short minutes, we are presenting a complete picture of the company," Greenholtz said.

"You're credible, that what you have is exciting and is worthy of someone saying I want to visit with you and learn more," Bertoch added.

In 2000, Utah had three funds managing $200 million to $300 million, he said. Seven years later, the state was home to as many as 17 funds with $3.5 billion.

At one mentoring meeting, Greenholtz runs through his pitch and the team critiques everything from his brand to his breathing to the font size in his presentation slides.

"When you start out, you realize there's a reason why not everybody does it," Greenholtz said. "So have thick skin, be prepared to hear ‘no' quite a bit, but stay focused on your business and you learn a lot."

Mentor Dane Goodfellow, a former IBM executive, said the team helped Greenholtz focus on the potential for an ongoing revenue stream and Kathy Smith, a national brand, something most start-ups don't have.

"The recommendations we give them really restructure the way they look at their company as far as resources and planning," Goodfellow said.

Making the pitch

One morning early in February, at the Investor's Choice Conference at the posh Zurmatt Resort in Midway, KeyVive and 19 other start-ups made their pitches before an audience that included venture capitalists, private angel investors and other investors.

Bertoch guestimated the audience represented $5 billion under management.

"There's a lot of money here today and I'm looking forward to getting some," Greenholtz said, laughing.

Bertoch said there wasn't always that kind of money in Utah. He said after the dot-com crash of 2000, the U.S. venture capital industry experienced a "horrendous" slide.

"While the rest of the country from a venture perspective was going down the drain, Utah caught fire," he said.

In 2000, Utah had three funds managing $200 million–$300 million, he said. Seven years later, the state was home to as many as 17 funds with $3.5 billion.

The crash of 2008 had a big impact, but Utah venture capital, Bertoch said, remains relatively robust.

The past few years have also seen the rise of angel groups, organizations of wealthy investors who fund earlier stage companies. {#funds fact}

Bertoch estimates they do $2 million–$3 million a year in that early-stage business.

He said the tech sector recently experienced a watershed event when Adobe purchased Omniture and kept the company in Utah.

"Utah finally started to flirt with a very elusive goal and that's the goal of critical mass," he said "In the tech sector, it put us on the map."

After weeks of preparation, David Greenholtz gave his 10-minute pitch. The presentation went relatively smoothly. Afterward, he said he was pleased with his performance, but said the pitch wasn't quite over.

"I know this presentation is gonna develop into another presentation with another hospital group, another partner and so this is really the beginning of where the company is here," he said.

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