Richard Branson picks Extreme Tech Challenge startup winner

Eric Dy, co-founder and CEO of Bloom Technologies, accepting his award from Richard Branson after winning the Extreme Tech Challenge contest.

Eric Dy is reeling from one of his most memorable experiences as an entrepreneur.

Late Wednesday, Dy stood before Richard Branson for seven minutes and pitched his startup Bloom Technologies in the final round of the Extreme Tech Challenge contest.

The San Francisco-based firm has developed a wearable sensor tied to an app that allows expectant moms track their pregnancy, such as frequency, duration, and intensity of contractions.

Bloom Technologies was one of three finalists that traveled to Necker Island, Branson’s private Caribbean island, and pitch their business directly to the titan.

Dy’s presentation landed Bloom Technologies the big win.

“It was a very long evening but a terrific one for us,” said Dy, the company’s co-founder and CEO.

Dy, 36, was the last to present, but the Caribbean island setting helped to calm his nerves.

“We were out in the open, at a beautiful beach house that rolled into grass tennis courts,” he said. “And the beach was right behind us.”

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Bloom Technologies will make its device available to consumers this summer. With that launch date just a few months away, Dy honed his pitch to tightly focus on the startup’s commercialization strategy and plans to gain traction after hitting the market.

It helped that Branson is a proud father and grandfather. Branson’s daughter delivered twins in late 2014.

Pregnant woman wearing the Bloom Technologies pre-natal sensor.

Dy said his pitch prompted Branson to bring up his daughter, who he said had a pregnancy complication, and ask how Bloom’s sensor would have helped her.

“Most of the judges have experienced raising kids and even grandkids. So our company’s mission resonated with them,” said Dy. “They understood what it means to have a pregnancy go well and the heartbreak when it doesn’t.”

The other judges were Google Maps co-inventor Lars Rasmussen and Samsung Electronics President Young Sohn

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The win for Dy doesn’t result in a monetary prize.

All three companies (Giroptic and Sphero were the other finalists) that made it to the end got the same prize package: mentoring from top entrepreneurs, tech and infrastructure support from IBM (IBM, Tech30)and Amazon, (AMZN, Tech30) and the potential to raise new funding from investors at Necker Island.

However, the winner does get the bragging rights and a chance to be invited back to Necker Island to schmooze with Branson next year.

Dy didn’t wait for next year. He wasted no time in approaching investors right after his win.

“Some of the judges and folks in the audience did express interest in investing in Bloom,” he said.

What about Branson?

“I had a nice chat with him. He’s amazing and I won’t deny that he also showed interest,” said Dy.

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