Jason Luna envisions a day when mom-and-pop convenience stores across the land will ditch their cash registers and replace them with Apple iPads that run cloud-based software from Rapid RMS, the Chattanooga startup business where Luna works.
"We'll take out that big, clunky, Commodore 64-looking system that they've got inside the convenience store and put in a sleek iPad," Luna said. "You go in and say, 'I need $20 on pump number three' — they'll be able to authorize that on the iPad."
Luna expects to have 120 seconds to pitch that vision in early June to a crowd of 1,000 people in Nashville — including venture capitalists and institutional investors — on stage alongside Rapid RMS' founder, Nirav Patel, whose family owns and operates several Chattanooga-area liquor and convenience stores.
Rapid RMS has been invited to 36|86, a June 6-7 conference produced by Launch Tennessee (LaunchTN), a public-private partnership that aims to spur development of high-growth startup companies in Tennessee.
Also going from Chattanooga are two other startup companies: Torch, a wireless router that helps parents control kids' Internet use, and Branch Technology, a startup that says it has the world's largest free-form 3-D printer, which it wants to use to manufacture structural components for high-end architecture.
"We are very excited to announce the full list of companies that will make up this year's Village 36," Courtney Corlew, director of 36|86, said Friday in a statement. "The Southeast is well represented as these 36 companies hail from eight Southern states, span 10 different industry clusters and have collectively raised $20 million in capital."
The 36|86 conference gets its name because 36 companies will make a pitch to 86 investors, Luna said. The numbers also are the latitude and longitude of Nashville.
Rapid RMS hopes to raise about $3 million from investors at 36|86, Luna said.
"We're going to put it into sales and marketing," he said.
The reason why gas station convenience stores haven't switched to newer technology, Luna said, is because they're stuck with a few PC-based systems for their fuel sales.
"If you can't integrate with a fuel pump, you're no good to them," he said.
But Rapid RMS has proprietary technology that solves that problem and will let gas station convenience stores update to iPads and cloud-based software, Luna said.
The Chattanooga business already has raised $1.8 million from about 30 local investors led by Blank Slate Ventures, a "seed fund" for startups in the Chattanooga region.
Rapid RMS has sold 65 "beta" systems that are in use right now, Luna said, including at the recently opened Imbibe liquor store on Broad Street in Chattanooga's up-and-coming Southside neighborhood.
Once Rapid RMS gets its system into the mom-and-pop convenience stores, he said, it plans to expand into chain gas stations and trucking fuel centers.
Organizers of 36|86 say attendees will have access to nearly two full days of programming featuring speakers such as Square co-founder Jim McKelvey, Tyson Clark with Google Ventures, "super angel" investor Joanne Wilson, Managing Partner Scott Kupor with Andreessen Horowitz, as well as other investors, entrepreneurs and tech media.