Powered by Light


The startups of Luminate are challenging the status quo in fields as diverse as medicine, transportation, communications, and energy. The one theme that unites them all is light. In celebration of the International Day of Light earlier this month, we asked members of our portfolio to chime in on the theme of the year, “I trust science because…”

International Day of Light I Trust Science Because

See more answers on Twitter.

SEMINAR HIGHLIGHT: Winning Business Plans

Tips for Approaching Investors, from Derby Management

Derby Management Jack Derby and George SimmonsLuminate cohort 4 teams recently participated in a two-part interactive boot camp with Jack Derby, Head Coach and President, and George Simmons, Senior Partner, at Boston-based management consulting firm, Derby Management

Jack and George have sat on both sides of the table in investor pitches. They’ve served as C-level execs at multiple early-stage companies and founded numerous startups with successful exits, and they’re experienced venture investors who have raised more than $840 million. Their boot camp focused on the elements of an effective business plan and what leadership should be doing within the first years to achieve scalable growth.

“Most startups don’t succeed,” said Jack, pointing out a recent article from Harvard Business Review. “And the reason is that they can’t go to market. They may have great technology, but they fail on how they’re going to sell. I don’t care what you’re doing — maybe you have the cure to cancer, but unless you can market it to the people who are actually going to buy it, then there is no value.”

When your startup is ready to fundraise, you must be prepared with a number of elements that all stem from your business plan. Start there and then work up to create your presentation pitch, executive summary, and elevator speech, all of which are pieces that investors will want to see.

Jack and George review hundreds, sometimes thousands of business plans a year. They described the levels of screening that venture investors follow, typically giving more review time to plans that come from someone they know. 

“If I don’t have any connection to you, I’m going to give your plan 30 seconds and look at a few things. I’m going to make up my mind very quickly, so you have to nail your value proposition right away. If you can’t pull me in with the first few slides, I’m moving on,” said George.

Jack and George also provided insights on how investors have changed through the pandemic and the impact that’s had on the importance of crafting personas.

“What happened in 2020 changed marketing and sales forever. I’m not being fuzzy and esoteric here. Make sure you’re talking about personas — not targets or prospects, but people and the specific value you bring to them. Bring humanity into it,” said Jack.

Cohort 4 startups also kicked off their time in the accelerator with training on:

  • Pitchbook, the leading source for public and private capital market news, reports, and data tracking. Each team gets their own Pitchbook account as part of the Luminate program.
  • Interviewing for results with Sara Cegelski,  Senior Training and Development Consultant at HR Works.
  • The services available through the Rochester Public Library’s Business Insight Center (BIC) — including 10 proprietary databases for conducting market research — and the Carlson Center for Intellectual Property, an official Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC) with trained experts who help file patents, trademarks, and copyrights.
  • Mindfulness with Sabrina Vogler, Certified Professional Coach, Executive Coach, and Grief Specialist in private practice at Heart in the Moment Mindfulness Coaching, LLC (part 1 — stay tuned for takeaways next month).


I have been blown away by the services and partnerships we have been connected to as part of the Luminate cohort. There have been several services offered I didn’t even realize we needed until it was presented as an opportunity.”

Keith Moran Andluca

Keith Moran, Lead Photovoltaic Engineer, Andluca Technologies


Noel Goddard, PhD, CEO, Qunnect

Sustainability isn’t a concept limited to the environment. Luminate gives companies the tools to help their businesses become sustainable through the many pitfalls of early-stage growth.”

This is unlike any other accelerator program that I know of and the benefits have been immediate. Great training sessions with amazing talent. I’m truly impressed, and that’s hard to do with an old guy like me. Thanks.”

Paul Drysch PreAct

Paul Drysch, Founder and CEO, PreAct Technologies


Taking the (pathology) world by storm. Augmentiqs announced new distribution agreements with Givetechs (Japan), GBM Solutions (India), and OneCell (Russia).

Building on a partnership. Efferent Labs is taking the next step with W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc. (Gore), expanding its development collaboration to accelerate commercialization of the CytoComm™ platform.

Double good news for neuroscience. Neurescence is celebrating its new distribution sales partnership with Plexon Neuroscience, plus $350,000 in funding from the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) in preparation for an upcoming product launch and expansion of its sales and marketing team.

You’ll soon find Light Lace all over the U.S. Organic Robotics Corporation took home first place at the Sun Devil Athletics’ Venture Challenge.

Twitch Pitch Rubitection winnerWinner, winner (chicken dinner). Rubitection took first place at the UC Berkeley/Phoenix Consulting Group’s Ready, Set, Health! demo day competition AND the Lightships Capital’s Twitch Pitch Season 5 competition.

On the fast track. SunDensity is expanding in the Rochester area, with plans to open a pilot plant for its coating line in early 2022. The region is lucky to have you, SunDensity!


The Optical Systems Technology Program at MCC

Optics is the industry of the future and one of the few to experience growth during the pandemic, yet there’s a critical gap in trained optical technicians. Dr. Alexis Vogt is focused on growing the optical systems technology program at Monroe Community College — the only college in the world awarding associate degrees in precision optics — to address that gap and connect more students with stable, rewarding careers. Watch the video interview with Luminate’s Dr. Damon Diehl, or listen on Spotify or iTunes.

Advice to Scientist Entrepreneurs: 3 Alternatives to Venture Capital

Entrepreneurs have options when it comes to funding the commercialization of their ideas. Luminate board member Dr. Darius Sankey weighs in from his experience in venture capital and technology industries. Get his tips on the Luminate blog.

SPIE Startup Challenge Finals Coming Soon!

SPIE Startup Challenge FinalsBest of luck to all the finalists competing next week at SPIE’s 11th annual Startup Challenge, taking place on the virtual stage. Luminate board member Linda Smith will be giving the keynote address, and we’ll be rooting for our portfolio companies in both the Deep Tech and Healthcare categories. Good luck, Owl Autonomous Imaging, Simulated Inanimate Models, and Think Biosolution

Cheer on your favorite startups. Register for the Startup Challenge Finals.

There’s more! Damon Diehl, PhD, Luminate’s Technology Program Manager, will be giving a presentation on succeeding in an accelerator during the post-event wrap-up workshop. Register to attend.

See You Next Month!