The Pitch: "When firefighters enter a burning building, they need an air supply. In a high-rise, they must lug air canisters up and down many flights of stairs, because a bottle lasts as little as 17 minutes. The Rescue Air system solves this problem. Outside the building, firefighters connect the trucks they use to refill air tanks to our system. Inside the building, our system delivers air to stations where firefighters can fill their breathing apparatuses. Fifteen states now require systems like ours in new buildings that are 75 feet or higher. There's great interest in our technology overseas. We want capital to expand globally, starting in the Middle East."

Founder: Anthony Turiello

Location: San Carlos, California

Employees: Seven

Founded: 1993

2008 Revenue: $6.5 million

2009 Projected Revenue: $8.5 million

Price: $250,000 to $300,000 for the average installation

Profit Margin: 35 percent

Systems Installed To Date: Nearly 300, mostly in new buildings

Funding Sought: $7 million to $10 million

The Experts Weigh In

Regulations are key

I've spoken with a few fire chiefs and EMTs, and they all agree that moving equipment is labor intensive. The product looks promising. Unfortunately, the company's growth is tied to new construction. New buildings are being built, but the industry has slowed, and the sales cycle for a product like this tends to be long. The regulations are the X-factor that will move the product a little faster. Turiello really should highlight the support that the Rescue Air system has received from firefighters and make it clear to investors that his product is compliant with safety standards.

Linnea Geiss
senior associate
Arcapita Ventures

Expand gradually

I think this is a very viable product. Having $6.5 million in revenue is very impressive with only seven employees. There is a lot more growth in new construction in emerging markets, like the Middle East. That's a good rationale for going international sooner. At the same time, with only seven employees, the company may not have the operations in position to scale. Right now, an investor would probably make a smaller investment, in the $3 million to $5 million range. Turiello should focus on domestic growth and pick a few high-priority customers to show initial traction overseas.

Fred Sturgis
managing director
H.I.G. Ventures

Focus on retrofits

In tough economic times, developers may choose to forgo this system if it isn't a requirement. But installing systems in existing buildings could be a big market for Rescue Air. As new projects slow down, more attention will be spent on renovating and updating existing buildings, so the retrofit market might be more fruitful for a period of time. If Rescue Air focuses on selling retrofits for now, it will build its customer base and reputation, so that the company will be in a good position when the economy improves and real estate developers start spending on new projects again.

Ed Esber
co-managing director
The Halo Funds
Palo Alto, California