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Wilmington Startup Gains Endorsement Through Spokesperson, Potential Investors

By Audrey Elsberry, posted Feb 26, 2024
Wilmington-based AI startup OpiAID is gaining runway with a spokesperson deal, a closed fund raise and three new potential investors. 

OpiAID's most recent $500,000 gain is more an informal capital raise than a funding round, said founder David Reeser. Three potential investors began talks with Reeser after the team capped the half-a-million fund. After the last of the three investor deals are resolved, OpiAID will not look for funding for “a while,” Reeser said.

Reeser plans to keep the names of the potential investors private for now, although he said they are from Chapel Hill, New York City and Jacksonville, Florida. The New York City investor is planning to be a strategic partner, but the company is still working out the details of the deal. The other two investors are physicians, Reeser said, and will likely become members of the company’s scientific advisory board, which he is building now.

“Nearly every single person, every single group that's invested into OpiAID is still on the team,” Reeser said. “And that was important to me.”

Multiple founders throughout Wilmington’s entrepreneurship ecosystem have voiced the need for investors who can also serve as guides and mentors. Sam McCall, founder of Wilmington-based SeaTox Research Inc., told the Business Journal last month that mentorship was something he felt was lacking in the Wilmington ecosystem.

“It would be great to have a better mentor community,” he said.

Reeser said when looking to make deals with investors, he first looked to those who care about OpiAID’s mission of helping those with the opioid epidemic. The capital that could result from the three additional investors is undetermined. One investor may only be a token investor, Reeser said, which is more of an endorsement and would not involve a significant sum of money, he said.

A recent deal with former entrepreneur and motivational speaker Dino Miliotis made him OpiAID’s first spokesperson. Miliotis is in recovery from alcohol and substance abuse after finding success with his own startup. He now travels the country promoting his book "There Is No Box," which details his struggle with addiction.

“He's a well-known figure, especially within the substance use space,” Reeser said. “After about six months of having conversations and discussions, we decided we should do something about this and work together and I'm really glad that we are… he just communicates it differently than I would do it, which is really important.”

Reeser said while he speaks often about the technology behind his company, Miliotis can speak to the lived experience of recovery.
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