Press Sports Announces a Recent Close of Pre-Seed Investment Round with Central Piedmont Investment Group

Press Sports, a sports social media app, is excited to announce that the company has recently closed a pre-seed investment round with Central Piedmont Investment Group. Founded in early 2018, Press Sports has been focused on building an engaging platform where athletes from any level can comfortably self-promote their athletic achievements and share their highlights. The company was founded by Conrad Cornell, a 2018 Mercer graduate and Division 1 baseball player, and Drew Williams, an Atlanta native who has played organized sports since grade school. They have since built the platform and have attracted an exponentially growing user base that includes thousands of the nation’s top prospects who are actively building their own highlight repositories.

“Growing up in youth and high school sports, we noticed there was no platform to comfortably share top highlights with friends, family, and fans. There was a clear negative stigma that prevented athletes from self-promoting these athletic achievements on existing social media. We wanted to create a place for all highlights to live – even if they aren’t ‘Instagram-worthy’ – which is why we created Press. Our users post anything from highlight mix tapes to training and weightlifting videos, and much of the content on Press is posted nowhere else. Early on we were diligent about getting feedback from the top athletes in the country so we’re really excited about our product that is continuously evolving,” Cornell said.

The funding has allowed Press to hire some key players in the social media space – Tyler Droll and Tom Chernetsky, formerly the CEO and CTO of YikYak. The money will allow these new hires to improve on the original product and create a viral app that keeps the users engaged and excited about their athletic careers.

Press is currently supported by Georgia Institute of Technology’s Advanced Technology Development Center, or ATDC, which is a technology incubator that gives startups the resources to be able to grow and develop quickly in the market.

“We see our platform as a way for athletes to ‘create their own Press’ by self-promoting and hyping their own athletic achievements. The players profiles will be a repository of all of their favorite athletic memories throughout their careers, and these profiles can be shared directly with coaches and used as a recruiting tool to help them get to the next level. Athletes can work to climb our own ‘Press Athlete Rankings’ lists by posting quality content that gets other users’ attention. The rankings are created by an algorithm based on the user’s exposure on our app and shared on our website and other social media pages. Press hopes to help athletes build their brands and grow their fan-bases organically through our app. We want to give them a platform where they can gain exposure and share their hard work and talent,” Williams said.

Bob Easter, Managing Director of Central Piedmont Investment Group, describing Press Sports said, “We at CPIG are delighted to invest in and mentor these two creative, high-energy partners. This application they created and continue to enhance will enable athletes to showcase their accomplishments and create new opportunities for themselves. We look forward to seeing the huge growth of Press Sports!”

The Press Sports app can currently be found on the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store, and their website can be found at https://presssportsapp.com/.

Moonlight Therapeutics Secures Private Funding to Advance Development of Peanut Allergy Treatment

Moonlight Therapeutics, Inc., announced today an investment of over $300,000 from a small group of private investors. Moonlight Therapeutics is a biotechnology company developing treatments for food allergies and its lead program focuses on a treatment for peanut allergy.

Moonlight’s proprietary treatment platform, TASIS — Targeted Allergen-Specific Immunotherapy within the Skin — involves the application of a small, minimally invasive skin patch that uses microneedles to target the delivery of allergens to the skin’s immune cells to desensitize someone from a food allergy. The microneedle patch is removed within a few minutes of application and the administration is complete.

This funding represents the company’s first private investment and was led by the Central Piedmont Investment Group (CPIG). The capital is in addition to the $2.5 million business grant Moonlight Therapeutics received in 2019 from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The new funding will allow the company to strengthen its intellectual property and enable a pre-Investigational New Drug Application (IND) meeting with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the peanut allergy treatment.

“We are emboldened by this additional capital to advance our preclinical timeline and prepare for a clinical trial using TASIS for peanut allergy,” said Samir Patel, Moonlight Therapeutics president and CEO. “We also gained a group of dedicated investors who we consider partners in our quest to create a meaningful therapy for those suffering from food allergies.”

“Moonlight Therapeutics has developed a unique allergen immunotherapy platform that will first be applied to peanut allergies. In the United States alone, there are an estimated 30 million people who suffer from food allergies, with 6 million being children,” said Bob Easter, CPIG managing director “As a result, CPIG sees tremendous growth potential and has been impressed with the creativity and diligence of the founders.”

Food allergies are a global problem and there are very few treatment options for both children and adults, explained Dr. Stanley Fineman, an allergist who served on the board of the World Allergy Organization and is a past president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. “A treatment like TASIS, under development by Moonlight Therapeutics, has the potential to help address this unmet need for not just peanut allergies, but multiple other food allergies.” Dr. Fineman is also an advisor to Moonlight Therapeutics.

Based in Atlanta, Ga., Moonlight Therapeutics is an early-stage biotechnology company developing targeted, allergen-specific immunotherapy treatments for food allergies. Food allergies are estimated to affect more than 30 million people in the United States. Moonlight uses its proprietary platform, TASIS, to target the delivery of allergens to immune cells in the skin. This technology was invented at Texas Tech University. TASIS can be used to deliver individual or combinations of allergens to treat multiple allergies. Founded in 2017, the company is a portfolio company of the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and is supported by the Georgia Research Alliance. To learn more, visit moonlighttx.com.

Central Piedmont Investment Group Successfully Exits Investment in Piedmont Brewery & Kitchen

In May of 2016, Central Piedmont Investment Group (CPIG) began working with Piedmont Brewery & Kitchen. CPIG invested in the business, and Piedmont Brewery & Kitchen used the capital to start their Downtown Macon brewery and restaurant. As it stands, Piedmont Brewery & Kitchen is the first investment of CPIG that was able to buy the shares held by CPIG back, fully exiting the investment. This is a sign of prosperity in their business as well as the revitalization energy happening in Downtown Macon and surrounding areas.

“The partners at CPIG want to help founders launch and grow their businesses by investing funds, but also by sharing experience that they have gained from their own businesses and lives. We are proud to have had a hand in helping Brian Whitley and Richie Jones launch their wildly successful Piedmont Brewery & Kitchen. We look forward to continuing to see crowds pack their place daily!” said Bob Easter, Managing Director of Central Piedmont Investment Group.

CPIG seeks to stimulate business in the area and flood funds back into the local economy by jumpstarting investment and new business opportunities. The goal is not to own any of the companies, but merely aide in their inception. Piedmont Brewery & Kitchen and CPIG have formed a successful relationship by bringing business, jobs, and entertainment to Downtown Macon.

“When Richie and I were raising the necessary capital to open Piedmont Brewery & Kitchen, we were thrilled to meet the folks at Central Piedmont Investment Group. They are a talented and diverse group of professionals who not only helped us with capital investment, but also used their talents and resources to help get us off of the ground. Three years later, we have been able to repay their investment plus a return, giving them the additional resources to go out and help others with big dreams like we had in 2017,” said Brian Whitley, Co-Founder of Piedmont Brewery & Kitchen.

Founded in 2017, Piedmont Brewery & Kitchen prides itself on being a family-friendly environment where the young and young-at-heart can relax and have a great time with their friends and family. Piedmont offers both familiar beer styles as well as cutting edge experimental beer styles with unique ingredients and the newest/freshest hop varieties. The kitchen is a nearly 100% scratch kitchen that uses high-quality ingredients.

Local Startup Coffee Company Grinds To Open First Storefront

Z Beans Coffee, a local startup coffee company formed by recent Mercer University graduates, finalized plans to open its first coffee shop with help from Macon, Ga.-based Central Piedmont Investment Group, Mercer University, and other faithful investors.

“We’re grateful for this opportunity to grow our business and to continue spreading our story throughout the local community” says Z Beans Founder, Shane Buerster. He also thanks the angel investor group, Central Piedmont Investment Group (CPIG), for believing in the Z Beans vision of creating sustainability in the lives of Ecuadorian coffee farmers, while also providing quality coffee for the Macon community.

Bob Easter, the managing director of CPIG, said the investment holds true to the company’s reputation of supporting the growth of entrepreneurship in Central Georgia. “We are excited for the opportunity to support these recent graduates from Mercer, so they can continue growing upon the foundation which they have worked hard to build,” Easter said. “These are the types of investments that will benefit the Macon and Middle Georgia community in the long-run.”

Z Beans was founded by Shane Buerster in 2017 after a Mercer On Mission trip to Zaruma, Ecuador, in July of that year. A trip originally planned solely to earn credits towards graduation soon changed the path for the young entrepreneur. While researching whether coffee would be a sustainable economic solution to an area where the leading economic driver, gold mining, was slowly depleting, Shane formed a strong relationship with a 65-year old Zarumian native, Arturo Peñaretta, who had over 50 years of experience in the coffee industry. Arturo would not only become a friend but a mentor as well.

Once Shane returned to the States, the two stayed in contact, and Shane continued practicing his Spanish with Arturo as his teacher. As the friendship brewed, Arturo pitched the idea of selling Ecuadorian coffee in the United States. Shane, seeing the opportunity facing him, agreed to the idea and the first shipment of 65-pounds would arrive soon thereafter.

Working out of the Mercer Innovation Center (MIC), the campus’ incubator for aspiring entrepreneurs and startup companies, Shane began roasting 11-ounces at a time for family and friends to try. Receiving tremendous reviews, the coffee was well-received by those who tried it, prompting Shane to import 300 pounds. Come August 2017, that order had grown to 4,000 pounds and in July 2018 it became 14,000 pounds.

“The MIC is thrilled about the growth of Z Beans from their company residency in 2017 to becoming one of the three fellows for this current year” said Stephanie Howard, director of the Mercer Innovation Center. “We look forward to supporting the growth of Z Beans, especially with their new retail expansion.”

The coffee shop is located in Mercer Village, 1635 Montpelier Ave, and is set to open Monday August 27 at 10:00 a.m. and will be offering $1 iced and drip coffee all day.

Central Piedmont Investment Group Investing in Downtown Macon’s Situation Room

Central Piedmont Investment Group (CPIG) is pleased to announce that it has made a major investment in Situation Room, a local escape room business in Downtown Macon. Situation Room was founded by Brandan Wormsbacher, Thomas Choi, and Sarah Choo-Yick in August 2016 to give Middle Georgia residents something fun and different to do in Macon.

“Central Piedmont Investment Group is delighted to be investing in another Macon startup. We’re always on the lookout for companies throughout the Southeast, but our heart is in Macon. Situation Room is unique in the area and we see tremendous growth potential, including franchising opportunities throughout North America. We were also impressed with the creativity and diligence of the founders,” said CPIG managing director Bob Easter. “We’re excited about helping them grow and exploring the various ways to accomplish this. We’ve been working with them for about a year and we’re looking forward to the future.”

Situation Room co-founder, Brandan Wormsbacher, was equally pleased about the partnership. “We’re looking to grow our business in the franchising aspect and we think they’re the partners to get us there. In addition to being our only outside investor, one of the biggest decisions in partnering with Central Piedmont Investment Group is the incredible counseling and mentorship they provide. Their experience and knowledge has been invaluable.”

For those unfamiliar with escape rooms, they are rooms where players must work together, using clues and solving riddles and puzzles to overcome obstacles to beat their given situation within a limited amount of time. They have taken the nation by storm over the last five years, but until Situation Room was created, Middle Georgians had to drive to Atlanta to enjoy the experience.

“Escape rooms basically ask the question ‘What would you do?’ – What would you do if you were locked in a room with a zombie? What would you do if you were trapped in the desert? With Situation Room, we expand the situation. We make it more immersive by telling a story while players go through,” said Wormsbacher. “We’re also unique in that our puzzles are geared towards a team. Challenges require the work of more than just one player to solve. This is fun and entertaining experience, and also a great opportunity for businesses and corporations to analyze their employees as a team. Unlike other escape rooms, we also offer a debriefing session to provide analysis and advice on how they can improve as a cohesive unit.”

Situation Room is located at 427 Poplar Street in Downtown Macon and tickets can be purchased online: situationmacon.com.

Wireless Irrigation Startup Reservoir Closes Seed Round

Reservoir , a technology startup pioneering wireless irrigation, closed a seed round with Macon, Ga.-based Central Piedmont Investment Group.

The angel fund’s managing director, Bob Easter, said the investment fits its strategy of funding promising startups in Georgia and the Southeast to foster the region’s economy.

“Reservoir is poised to be the first to market with a solution that irrigators have wanted for decades,” Easter said.

The funding will allow Reservoir to complete field tests with 10 of its client businesses in metro Atlanta, including Irrigation Consultant Services, MNI Direct, and Moon’s Tree Farm.

These early adopters will provide feedback on the newly developed Reservoir Spoke, a product that simplifies irrigation systems by replacing conventional hardware — wires, controllers, output modules, surge arresters, and decoders. This feedback will also help Reservoir improve the Spoke app, which lets users manage irrigation by site and zone from anywhere in the world.

Jesse Lafian , who founded Reservoir in 2016 as a junior horticulture student at the University of Georgia, explained how the Spoke adds value to a main target market.

“Irrigation contractors often bury thousands of feet of wire on a site and later have to make continual repairs,” Lafian said. “The Spoke allows them to add new valves without connecting wire from existing ones, saving money on installation and maintenance.”

Reservoir’s new technology will also benefit plant nurseries and tree farms.

“Many growers can’t use wired irrigation systems due to lightning. Their only option is to control valves manually, which is often very labor intensive,” Lafian said. “Since the Spoke is wireless, it allows them to automate irrigation with minimal risk of lightning damage.”

Central Piedmont Investment Group’s seed funding comes after Reservoir’s raise of $66,000 from pitch competitions including UGA Next Top Entrepreneur and FABricate, and grant programs including UGA Innovation Gateway/NSF I-Corps and Georgia Research Alliance.

Reservoir credits its success to support from the University of Georgia and the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Advanced Technology Development Center, which is the state’s technology incubator and has the company in its ATDC Accelerate portfolio. Reservoir is also a member of Four Athens, an incubator for the Athens startup community and an ATDC partner.

“The mentorship and fundraising opportunities provided by these organizations were essential in helping Reservoir close this seed round,” Lafian said. “They have been integral to our growth and success.”

Piedmont Brewery & Kitchen Named “Best New Brewer In Georgia” for RateBeer’s 2017 Best Awards

Macon-based Piedmont Brewery & Kitchen was named Georgia’s “Best New Brewer” for 2017 in RateBeer.com’s Annual RateBeer Best Awards. The RateBeer Best Awards reflect the results of millions of user generated beer ratings on one of the world’s largest beer rating sites, Ratebeer.com. The “Best New Brewer” award represents the top-ranked breweries that started collecting ratings on or after June 1, 2016. That group totals over 6,400 new breweries, of which Piedmont ranked #1 in the state of Georgia.

“We are extremely passionate about the beer that we craft at Piedmont. It’s an incredible honor to be named as one of the world’s best new breweries. We are following in the footsteps of past winners like Scofflaw Brewing, Reformation Brewing, Orpheus Brewing and Jekyll Brewing.” says Brian Whitley, Co-Owner and Head Brewer at Piedmont Brewery & Kitchen. “This truly proves that hard work and passion pay off.”

Other Georgia-based brewery winners include Creature Comforts’ “See the Stars” for Best Georgia Beer and Terrapin Beer Company for Best Georgia Brewery.

Medicare Pathfinder receives $175K in investment capital

Central Piedmont Investment Group, a, Macon, Georgia-based angel fund, is making a $150,000 seed round investment in Medicare Pathfinder, a healthcare technology startup.

In a separate announcement, Atlanta-based Medicare Pathfinder said it received an additional $25,000 seed investment from another investor.

Medicare Pathfinder uses data science and design to help seniors navigate the maze of Medicare plans, options, and supplements to find coverage that meets their needs and budgets.

It is a member company in the Advanced Technology Development Center’s ATDC Accelerate portfolio. ATDC, the state of Georgia’s technology incubator, is a economic development program of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute.

“Medicare Pathfinder has created an easy way for seniors — and the families supporting them — to navigate complex sets of options to select the most appropriate plan for each senior,” said Bob Easter, Central Piedmont Investment Group’s managing director.

Founded in 2016, the principals of Central Piedmont Investment Group created the fund to support and foster the development of promising ventures that contribute to Middle Georgia’s flourishing economic ecosystem. In addition, this group looks to invest throughout the state of Georgia and the southeastern United States. Central Piedmont Investment Group has $500,000 in assets under management, and is starting a second fund early 2018.

“Not only do these users benefit greatly from using Medicare Pathfinder, but so do insurance providers and federal and state government agencies,” Easter said. “Our investment group wanted to support this initiative.”

With these two investments, Medicare Pathfinder has raised $425,000 in outside capital.

“Entrepreneurs should always seek smart money and we like that each member of Central Piedmont Investment Group is a successful entrepreneur who provides a wealth of real-world business experience,” said Scott Cadora, Medicare Pathfinder’s CEO and founder.

“Their investment provides our company with both capital and valuable business insights that will help us execute our go-to-market strategy. We appreciate that they believe so strongly in our team, our technology and our business plan.”

The funds will be used to launch its technology, marketing and to develop follow-on technology, Cadora said.

New Angel Fund Launched in Central Georgia

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MACON – Entrepreneurs in Central Georgia now have a new resource to help take their concept from dream to reality: Central Piedmont Investment Group (CPIG). The group is the area’s first angel fund, providing financial resources as well as well as leadership and guidance for local startup companies.

CPIG will focus their efforts on new and existing companies, located in the region, that exhibit potential for high growth and economic impact. The organization’s goal is to positively impact the Central Georgia economy by assisting companies develop, thrive and stay in the area.

A group of local entrepreneurs has been working to create CPIG for over a year and have personally invested funds to start the company as a sign of their commitment to the local community and its economic revitalization. The individuals are all accredited private investors, with years of entrepreneurial experience, and will provide mentorship for the companies selected to receive funds from the group.

“This angel fund will allow us to provide local entrepreneurs with startup capital so they can secure additional funding resources to get off the ground,” said Stewart Vernon, founding member of Central Piedmont Investment Group and newly appointed entrepreneur-in-residence at Mercer University’s Innovation Center.

CPIG will work closely with existing business support agencies to bolster the impact of their work, fostering local startups and giving them the support needed to be successful. Partners include the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce, Macon Economic Development Commission and NewTown.

“Many communities we compete with to attract companies have similar organizations and now Macon can say that as well. We are looking forward to working with Central Piedmont Investment Group to create a good environment to support and grow businesses in middle Georgia,” said Patrick J. Topping, senior vice president for the Macon Economic Development Commission.