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Venture Catalyst client Sokikom shines at Invest Southwest

December 15, 2010

A learning technology company that applies the lessons of massively multiplayer online games like World of Warcraft to math education was voted most likely to be funded at last week’s Invest Southwest capital conference, hosted by Arizona State University.

ASU graduate (’03) Snehal Patel started Sokikom – pronounced “so-kee-com” – in 2008 after three-year stints at Motorola and then Mathnasium, where he built the international chain’s top performing center for math instruction. Sokikom uses collaborative game-play to not only help students develop their own math skills, but also help each other learn math.

Patel was the first official client engagement of Venture Catalyst, ASU’s new entrepreneurial assistance initiative to help faculty, students and ASU-linked companies launch new startups or accelerate existing ventures. Venture Catalyst helped refine the company’s winning investor presentation, conducted market research and business model analyses, and provided connections to advisory board members and potential investors.

Patel previously worked with Dan O’Neill, director of entrepreneurship and research initiatives at ASU SkySong, on successful AZFAST and Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant applications that have helped Sokikom develop and commercialize its learning technology.

“Snehal is one of the most dynamic young entrepreneurs I’ve had a chance to work with at ASU,” said O’Neill. “He combines an impressive technical background with an amazing vision for how gaming technology can be applied to STEM education.”

Invest Southwest connects the region's most promising ventures with knowledgeable investors. More than 240 people attended this year’s event. Invited companies participate in a competitive application process and an extensive mentoring period in anticipation of their conference presentation. Since inception of the conference in 1992, presenting companies have received more than $250 million in investments.

“The benefit of being here was to gain exposure to highly successful entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and angel investors, specifically to raise capital,” Patel told the Arizona Republic.

Promoting ASU Technologies

Also at Invest Southwest, Ken Polasko and Jack Geltosky from Arizona Technology Enterprises (AzTE) gave investors a behind-the-scenes look at some of ASU’s most promising new technologies available for commercialization. The presentation covered both the physical and life sciences, and ranged from cutting-edge flexible displays to potential treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and obesity.

Charlie Lewis, vice president of venture development at AzTE, provided an overview of Venture Catalyst and discussed the ways investors could connect with ASU resources.

“In the current tough economic climate, we want investors and potential corporate partners to know that AzTE and Venture Catalyst are set up to make deals that work for both sides,” said Lewis. “We’re also looking to connect new faculty ventures with outside entrepreneurs who can offer the depth of commercialization experience needed to lead future ASU spinouts.”

A complete list of presenting Invest Southwest companies can be found on the conference website.  More information on Sokikom is available at