Category Archives: tylers hope

Dystonia Cure Within Reach for Tyler’s Hope

I’ve blogged here before about Tyler’s Hope and wanted to share a big day for Tyler and his family. This morning CNN.com posted the video below and TylersHope.org is getting bombarded with people wanting to help find a Dystonia cure. How can you help?

1) Watch this video;
2) Learn more at TylersHope.org;
4) Help Tyler find a cure by giving and inviting friends to help!
Tyler Staab is a classmate of my daughter’s and I’d personally appreciate anything you can do to help…

Human Powered Cause Discovery

human powered cause discoveryAs I waited for its release, I’ve always felt SocialSpark held great potential for spreading the word about good causes. I just didn’t realize how easy it would be.

I created a free Spark (organic post idea) about Human Powered Cause Discovery and asked bloggers to do 3 things:
1) Create a Spark about their favorite Cause;
2) Blog about their favorite Cause, pointing readers to the Spark they created; and
3) Point readers to the Spark I created so readers can continue the cycle of spreading the word about worthwhile Causes.

It hasn’t even been a week and I’ve already learned about 4 new Causes. Include the Cause I also Spark’d, Tyler’s Hope, and that’s five Causes immediately benefiting from SocialSpark’s growing community — at no cost to anyone. Those four new Causes include:
1) The Vasculitis Foundation
2) CRY: Child Relief and You
3) Kiva.org: micro-lending in developing countries
4) MS: Multiple Sclerosis

However, it doesn’t end there. Let’s keep the cycle going. Please take the time, today, to pick a favorite Cause, blog about it, Spark it at SocialSpark, and point readers to my Human Powered Cause Discovery Spark.

Gators Put on A Show(case)

Yesterday was Pro Day in the Swamp as draft prospects from the National Champion Gators put on a show for over 100 NFL coaches and scouts. It sounds like Reggie Nelson (running a 4.3 40), Chris Leak (completing 64 of 65 passes) and others left a pretty strong impression on those in attendance. That show, however, is not what this post is about.

Last Friday I attended the University of Florida Technology Showcase 2007, A Celebration of Innovation. The birthplace of Gatorade, Sentricon, Trusopt and Regeneration Technologies has become a nursery of world-changing technologies busting at the seams, with entrepreneurs and investors completing the spinout equation. The Showcase brought together over 200 entrepreneurs, investors, researchers and corporate partners to network, matchmake and gather feedback on this year’s top prospects.

UF’s Vice President of Research Win Phillips and UF’s Office of Technology Licensing dynamic duo of David Day and Jane Muir deserve every kudo they received on Friday, having created a refreshingly open and proactive approach to licensing and company-building. My experience with other university licensing offices pales in comparison. If you’re an early-stage entrepreneur or investor and you haven’t met David or Jane, you should. They’re an investor in our fund and I’ll gladly make the introduction if you ping me with an email.

After various welcomes and introductions, the show started with a diverse set of 3-minute technology briefs — some of UF’s youngest technologies, looking for a partner or entrepreneur. Following that, the core agenda involved two concurrent tracks of presenting companies: Technology and Biomedical.

Because I couldn’t be in two places at once, I focused my time on the Technology track that included:

  1. Prioria (Bryan daFrota): Unmanned aerial vehicles and visual navigation
  2. Pervasa (Sumi Helal): Sensor network adapters and middleware
  3. ChaoLogix (Eric Buffkin): Chaos-based run-time reconfigurable chips
  4. DsPherical (Don Beech): Signal recognition/extraction
  5. GrooveShark (Sam Tarantino): Legal P2P music sharing
  6. ViewRay (Will Wells): Full-motion radiation therapy
  7. Underground Fiber (Huikai Xie): Underground power fault detection
  8. Walleye (Chris Adams): Portable X-ray camera/viewer (yes, like Star Trek)

In parallel, the Biomedical track included:

  1. AxoGen (Karen Zaderej): nerve regeneration
  2. Sabine Neurotechnology (Ryan Kern): DBS surgical guidance system
  3. Ruperion (Chris Stevens): Pancreatic cancer treatment
  4. NeuroPoetix (Caroline Popper): Regenerative medicine therapeutics
  5. Breast Cancer Targeting (William Cance): FAK-based therapeutics
  6. Innovative Diagnostics (Weihong Tan): Chemical biomarker discovery
  7. Ixion (Robert Harris): Cellular therapy for disabetes
  8. Neurological (Anatoly Martynyuk): CNS treatments

I’d seen some of these before, while others were new. On the whole, they did a great job of sharing their excitement and explaining the business opportunities well beyond the science. After canvassing some of my fellow attendees, I’d have to give “Best of Show” golden KangaRuas to Will Wells of Viewray for a very strong presence and presentation, and to Ryan Kern of Sabine for sharing what’s possible when Deep Brain Stimulation moves from disjoint guidance tools to a dedicated, integrated probe guidance system. New readers should see my post last year covering DBS-patient Tyler Staab‘s fight against Dystonia and his Tyler’s Hope for a Dystonia Cure Foundation.

The day ended with an interesting lunchtime talk by Edward Iacobucci, co-founder of Citrix and current President and CEO of DayJet. He seems to savor the entrepreneurial fight at DayJet as much today as he did when founding mega-success Citrix.

Overall, the show was very well run and I feel lucky to live in a town creating this much good stuff. Congratulations to all the entrepreneurs that presented and here’s hoping your first round fortunes shine as bright as Reggie Nelson’s 😉

My Hope for Tyler’s Hope

In the venture business we’re often focused on very large numbers — we invest millions of dollars, at million dollar valuations, tapping billion dolars markets, in hopes for millions or billions of return. This post is about a smaller number, closer to home: one. One smart, funny, athletic 7-yr old boy named Tyler Staab.

I got to know Tyler and his family when he was a classmate of my daughter Delaney a few years ago. Even at that young age, classmates fought for his attention because he was so likeable. His golf skills were already showing at a young age. He was a rabid Gator fan. We played basketball together and he had a mean outside shot.

Everything changed February 2005. While practicing basketball with his father, Tyler started having a hard time bringing his arm in without it shaking uncontrollably. Visits to UF Shands and other nationally renowned hospitals led to misdiagnosis, confusion and frustration — especially for Tyler. Finally, a visit to Dr. Michael Okun yielded a diagnosis of Primary Generalized Early-Onset Dystonia, and a test for the Dystonia Dyt1 gene confirmed it.

Dystonia is a neurological movement disorder affecting the central nervous system characterized by involuntary and often painful spasms of the muscles. The disorder currently has no cure and progressively robs one of the ability to control voluntary movements and even the ability to walk. The earlier that a child shows symptoms of Dystonia, the more significant those symptoms become — and it can happen fast. Within 9 months of that shaking arm, Tyler required a wheelchair and will likely be permanently disabled within 5 years of onset.

Tyler’s brain is as sharp as ever. He’s in the 2nd grade gifted magnet program, but even his learning is at risk because most days his hands are so spasmed he cannot write papers or take tests. Tyler and his family are hopeful that will change for the better in June of this year.

Tyler will undergo surgery on June 14, 2006 for Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) to stop/slow the symptoms — but it won’t cure him. As an investor, I’ve reviewed a few early-stage DBS companies that insert electrical probes into the brain — scary stuff. Tyler will be the youngest person in the world to receive this surgery for his diagnosis. Delaney has already bought Tyler’s “Get Well” cards. We hope the surgery is a success and it helps, but the longterm options are unclear as Tyler’s body and head grows.

You don’t know Tyler yet, but get to know him at www.TylersHope.org — a foundation created to help raise awareness of the disease, speed diagnosis and find a cure. In addition to information on Dystonia, some Tyler’s Hope products and Tyler’s million dollar research fundraising goal, Tyler’s dad has started a “Progressional Diary” that shares what Tyler is experiencing. Take a look and help if you can.

In a business where curing big diseases for big markets can deliver big returns, we often miss the one person we help through investment. Here’s a chance to help and know who you are helping. I hope you will. Tyler, for one, would appreciate it…