AWARDS FOR STARTUP COMPANIES — Among participants in the Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate’s Commercialization Academy Spring 2018 Demo Day, from left: Gabriel Pendleton, AudioStaq co-founder; the audience vote winner, Emily Call, idoolocal co-founder; the judges’ panel winners, Go Figure CEO Justin Call and Go Figure Head of Customer Care Michael Leonard; Terren Klein, Pulse co-founder; and Chris Martin, Off the Cuff founder. (Photo submitted)

Husband and wife win top prizes at Rome Lab Demo Day

Published Jun 13, 2018 at 4:00pm

Justin Call and his start-up company Go Figure, of Utica, won a $15,000 prize in a judges’ vote based on the company’s business pitch on May 31 at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Commercialization Academy Spring 2018 Demo Day.

In addition, Emily Call and the start-up company idoolocal of Clinton, which she co-founded, won $5,000 through a vote from the audience of about 85 at the event, held at the Griffiss Institute. Justin Call, who is CEO of Go Figure, and Emily Call are husband and wife, said the institute.

The two companies were among five start-ups who presented their plans for using technologies from the AFRL Information Directorate of Rome as “a pivotal part of their business model,” the institute said.

Go Figure involves technology for a residential contracting business to dramatically reduce the time to provide a proposal to a customer. The idoolocal company works with local businesses to create out-of-the-ordinary experiences for people such as making special dishes at area restaurants, for example.

The other contestant teams included AudioStaq and Off the Cuff, both of Baltimore, Md.; and Pulse, of Hanover, N.H.

The institute said the judges’ panel
evaluated each startup based on such factors as the ability of the business to affect upstate New York’s startup ecosystem and high-tech economy; the culture of innovation created within the startup due to incorporating AFRL technology; sustainability beyond the initial startup period; and marketing strategy.

Justin Call said “this win for us means that we can invest more into our platform....We are developing the second-generation app, and so every dollar that we can throw to that, means that we’re going to grow.”

Emily Call, meanwhile, said her company’s win in the audience vote was “very unexpected....It gave me the forefront to work so hard, and continue this business, and to grow, and we are looking to utilize the proceeds to get an actual TV commercial in the local community out there, and to expand our customer base and our partnerships in the Oneida County area.”

The AFRL Commercialization Academy has included the Griffiss Institute partnering with Wasabi Ventures, a venture capital firm, to run it since 2015.

The academy “continues to raise the bar for the Department of Defense in creating startups using taxpayer-funded research and development as the foundation for these new businesses,” said Frank Hoke, technical director at the institute.

“More and more, our emphasis is in creating jobs in the local area to bump up the technical capabilities that forge collaborations with the (AFRL) Information Directorate, as well as enabling the promotion of commercial products developed and sold from Central NY,” the institute’s technical director added.