By Al Shams
Conexx, the former American-Israel Chamber of Commerce in the Southeast, recently brought Israeli-based Trendlines to Atlanta to describe its business operations and introduce local angel investors and entrepreneurs to six of its portfolio companies seeking capital.
Trendlines is an innovation commercialization entity that creates, uncovers, incubates and invests in unique medical and agricultural technologies. It is a hands-on investor deeply involved in all aspects of a company’s growth.
Most investments are made through two incubators franchised by the Israeli government. The primary goal is to create and develop entities that seek to improve the human condition.
Trendlines has a team of more than 30 professionals with a wide range of skills, including research and development, marketing, media, law and finance. The organization was formed in the early 1990s and is led by its founders, Steve Rhodes and Todd Dollinger. Each has more than 35 years’ experience in growing innovative companies.
The success of Trendlines parallels Israel’s success story in “Start-Up Nation.” Beyond good technology, Rhodes and Dollinger believe that “the people” and “building relationships” are key elements to their success.
In November, they received the Global Business Development Leadership Award from the American Society of the University of Haifa.
Trendlines is quick to point out that it is not a traditional venture capital investor. It has little or no promoted or carried interest and invests on the same terms as outside passive investors.
Trendlines believes that its strengths are as follows:
- A business model in which its principals are deeply invested.
- A solid senior management team and dedicated staff assembled by Rhodes and Dollinger.
- An established portfolio of companies focused on medical and agricultural technology. Trendlines reviews more than 400 prospects each year and funds eight to 10.
- A record of success for which entrepreneurs often seek out the company.
Since 2007, Trendlines has raised more than $160 million. It has 46 companies in its portfolio and had five exits the past three years. Two companies had IPOs. Trendlines has won five Best Company and two Best Incubator awards.
During the Conexx event, attendees heard from the senior management of six companies seeking capital:
- Arcuro Medical has developed a safe, reliable and cost-effective way to repair a torn meniscus. At the heart of the approach is a Super Ball repair system that consists of a knotless, all-suture anchor. More than 300,000 meniscus procedures are performed annually with a worldwide market of $240 million
- Endobetix is developing a minimally invasive, nonsurgical implant to treat Type 2 diabetes and obesity. The implanted device mimics the hormonal benefits offered by bariatric surgery. The device diverts bile and pancreatic secretions from the upper part of the small intestine to the lower part of that organ. This diversion changes the hormonal balance so that the body absorbs less fat and diabetes goes into remission.
- IonMed has developed a plasma tissue-welding system that offers advantages over traditional suture and staple methods of closing wounds and surgical cuts. The $5 billion worldwide market is expected to grow to $14 billion by 2018.
- NeuroQuest is developing a blood test that will enable an early and accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and Lou Gehrig’s disease, based on the discovery of blood-based immune biomarkers in Alzheimer’s and ALS patients.
- Omeq Medical is developing a single-use, smart needle for safe and accurate epidural injections. Current technology relies on a physician’s sense of feel, resulting in 30 percent of needles being improperly placed. The worldwide market for epidural needles is $1 billion, not counting the additional cost for complications from improperly placed needles.
- VisiDome is developing an accommodative interocular lens for people who undergo cataract surgery. The lens exploits the eye’s biology to overcome the flaws of current products that do not fully restore near vision. The worldwide market for interocular lenses market is $4 billion, with Alcon, Bausch & Lomb, and Zeiss among the industry leaders.
Incredible things are happening in Israel, and Trendlines is a part of them.
Al Shams is a Sandy Springs resident, a former CPA and an investment professional with more than 35 years’ industry experience.