“The night before the Cozad Competition Finals, my partner, Prashant Mehta, and I talked about our next steps,” said Rithmio’s co-founder Adam Tilton. “My lease was ending; I didn’t know if I should re-sign. You know- the typical startup story.”
That next day, the Cozad Competition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign set in motion a concrete future for Rithmio, the company that is building a gesture recognition platform that’s ahead of its time.
“We pitched to the judges and we won [$20,000].” Among the judges was recent University of Illinois CS alum and founder of Malwarebytes, Marcin Kleczynski, who was immediately interested in Rithmio. Tilton stated that once Kleczynski was on board, several (Cozad judges and investors) followed: Guy Turner of Hyde Park Venture Partners; Serra Ventures; IllinoisVentures; Mark Tebbe- also an Illinois alum; and many more.
Five months later, Rithmio is looking at a $650,000 investment from those listed above as well as Techra Investments, BonaVentura, Fox Ventures and a few angel investors.
“I have no clue what Rithmio would have looked like without the Cozad Competition,” said Tilton. He laughed saying that many people think having a good idea often guarantees investment, but that isn’t the case. Without the right recognition, a “good” idea will remain an unfunded idea.
Tilton went further into the time capsule and noted that the idea of Rithmio would never have come about if it hadn’t been for the NSF I-Corps Program in July of 2013. “That’s when we started looking at gesture recognition as a potential application for our technology.”
Rithmio’s proprietary software can learn new user-defined gestures in less than ten seconds and from there it detects, classifies and analyzes those movements in real time. It’s automatically customizable to each unique user and can have uses across multiple spaces such as gaming, fitness and physical therapy.
Tilton envisions Rithmio as the gesture recognition platform for motion sensing devices and plans to license the technology to electronics companies that make wearables and fitness trackers, rather than make products itself.
The company will use their recent funding to expand their functionality and are looking to hire full-time iOS, Android and Web Developers. They also hope to put their VP of Marketing to work in building out their brand and boosting their recognition.
All of this to say that a good idea takes work, dedication and a little bit of “right place, right time” to make it into a successful business.