News Article

Inventors make pitch for cash at RPI's Bplan Series
Source: bizjournals ( click here to go to the source)

Featured firm in this article: Z Lens LLC of Saint Petersburg, FL

Would you pay $1,000 for an air-purifying plant system that removes major toxins from your home?

Martin Mittelmark, CEO of Phytofilter Technologies, thinks you will. He made his pitch Wednesday to investors at the Venture Bplan Series, a monthly forum sponsored by the Center for Economic Growth and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and held on Rensselaer's Troy, New York, campus.

Mittelmark, who heads the eight-person company in Saratoga Springs, is convinced people with breathing disorders, such as asthma, will be willing to pay for his product if it makes breathing easier. The purifier removes germs, pollen, mold and cancer-causing chemicals from the air, he said.

He told the panel of three investors—Dick Frederick and Joe Vasalli of the Eastern New York Angels Network, and Steve Lobel of Anchor Insurance—that he is seeking a $125,000 investment.

The five-year-old Phytofilter has received grants from both the Environmental Protection Agency and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. The company conducted a three-year, $450,000 study at Syracuse University that showed the filter, based on technology developed by NASA, purified the air and also reduced heating costs.

Also presenting at the Bplan Series was Paul Beer of Z Lens LLC, a one-year-old Slingerlands company that has developed an intraocular lens to replace a human lens following cataract surgery.

There are 2.8 million cataract surgeries a year in the United States. Beer said his lens has the ability to focus at different distances, something he said other intraocular lenses cannot do. The company has received funding from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. Its lens has been tested on animals.

Beer said he is looking to raise $30 million to bring the product to market within six years.

The Venture Bplan Series has met since May 2000, with a number of local companies making presentations over the years, including WiFiFee, a wireless company now known as DeepBlue Communications; email marketing company Informz, based in Saratoga Springs; and VersaTrans in Latham, a school transportation software company that was acquired by Tyler Technologies.

The Venture Bplan Series will not meet in December but will resume on Jan. 30.