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Tallwave selects startups for training in downtown’s Luhrs complex

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Tallwave, a Scottsdale-based venture development and capital company, recently selected five digital technology startup companies for its High Tide training program at Luhrs City Center in downtown Phoenix.

The early-stage startups include Pikfly, DuuL, HumansFirst, MESH Digital and Elly. Tallwave chose the companies from 75 applicants. Three are Arizona based.

The program, which runs from April to June, allows the startups free use of a workspace in Luhrs Tower, where they will focus on prototype building, marketplace testing, sales workshops, branding and customer validation.

At the end of the High Tide program, two startups will be eligible for $50,000 in seed funding.

Jeffrey Pruitt, CEO of Tallwave, said the High Tide program was announced in January through a partnership with Hansji Corp., which owns the Luhrs building and wanted to highlight it as an innovation hub.

“There is so much going on in downtown Phoenix with the light rail and a lot of business being down there,” Pruitt said. “There’s great energy. It was a right fit for Tallwave.”

Company officials selected the startups based a number of factors, including marketplace, the ability to grow, the founders and the product, he said.

“The High Tide program is a tool for entrepreneurs to move forward thoughtfully with less risk,” he said. “But it’s a tool. It doesn’t take away from the fact that entrepreneurs are the ones taking a risk to fight for a dream or idea.”

Scottsdale-based HumansFirst aims to build a second version of its HER app during the Tallwave program.

Gregory Goehner, president of Humans First, said the HER app allows consumers to shop and purchase items online by voice.

Goehner said consumers leave more than $4 trillion worth of merchandise in online shopping carts each year because of the difficulty of online check out. He said HER can help ease that process.

He said there has been tremendous growth with startups, especially at Arizona State University and SkySong, the ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center.

“To be one of five chosen is a stamp of approval, credibility, and we’re excited and honored to be part o the program,” he said.

Phoenix-based PikFly, a startup that launched last week, features an online marketplace that allows consumers to shop at local, independent merchants and receive same day delivery for products.

“We wanted to work with local only, micro merchants because there is a significant need to help them,” CEO Mike Auger said. “What’s happening is large retailers are squeezing them out of the market by bringing same day delivery to the marketplace.”

He said there is a significant need for startups to have access to high level education and resources, which is why he applied for the High Tide program.

“It was really an obvious choice for us to apply, and we couldn’t be more happy to be selected,” he said. “Universities, as well as government and cities are getting behind technology. (Phoenix has) all the right ingredients to make it work for a lot of people.”

Pruitt said he hopes to continue the High Tide program for startups in Phoenix.

“Opportunities (for startups) in the community get a lot better every year,” he said. “We’re seeing much more connectivity in Arizona than I’ve ever seen before with funding groups coming together. ‘A’ round funding can come from somewhere else and not move you out of the state.”