December 8th, 2011. I’m at the last Ultra Light Startups meetup of 2011, and hoping for a good set of pitches to finish off a great year. Every once in a while, there are pitches that wow you and other times, the pitches are just lukewarm. After attending a few of these meetups, I noticed the quality of pitches has increased and now the bar just gets higher and higher. After a great 2-minute pitch, you can just look around the room and see the expressions on people’s faces and realize we all just witnessed a great idea and business. Without further ado, let’s get on with the pitches!
First off is Taap.it. I’ve seen Duy pitch before, and while his pitch is just so-so, the product Taap.it offers is quite interesting and I see potential for growth. I like he says in the pitch that “we focus on 3 things well.” Namely, discover the best store in your neighborhood to find certain things, purchasing direct from the site, and one last thing I forgot. It’s also a cool way of looking at aggregated content and Owen Davis from NYC Seed (panelist) mentioned that they could be the main distributor for the local guys (kind of like an Etsy) if they can integrate with some POS system like Square or Shopkeep.
Resoomay is up next and you can tell right away the pitcher is prepared, focused, and ready to sell his product. They are a platform for helping recruiters with hiring new talent through video rather than in-person interviews. Already a super crowded space, but the one thing the founder mentioned is that their VP of Sales has 20 years staffing experience and the rolodex to go with it. Sometimes the contacts are just as important as the idea in building the business.
MyStream already made me think of Ustream, but I’m sure there is something different here. I liked how the pitcher sounded very down to earth and just wanted a way to share music with his buddies while they were traveling abroad. Instead of those headphone hubs, MyStream allows someone to stream music to other phones over Wifi or Bluetooth. I love the tagline too: Share your music, but don’t share your headphones. Simple, to the point, and a great business idea that already has $800K in funding according to the pitcher.
Reqoop was next with their social purchase sharing site. I didn’t really understand the campaigns the pitcher was talking about as their business model, but the pitch could have been a little more buttoned up in general. A great piece of advice one of the panelists offered was creating a merchant-funded loyalty program. Most merchants already have a loyalty program, perhaps they are the platform to host it?
The next pitcher’s startup has an interesting name, and things can go really bad or really good for her. I Had Cancer is a “hyper local” community for cancer survivors and those undergoing treatment. Biggest stat the pitcher mentioned was $40K/lead, or the amount medical treatment centers will pay for a lead that is in the late stages of a condition. I think it’s a super awesome idea, but the fact that someone is pitching the idea felt a bit awkward due to the nature of the site. I see a more social benefit of the site, and it was weird how the pitcher and some of the panelists are talking about the business model behind a startup like this.
Indiewalls is next, and the cooler thing than the idea was the pitcher’s outfit. Someone that finally sets themselves apart from the typical business casual look; and he also gave an amazing pitch. Indiewalls connects local artists with local venues and allows someone to purchase the artwork they like at a venue directly from the site. Definitely a cool idea (they also won the pitch contest) and it feels like they are monetizing the “long-tail” of the art world, a truly under-represented community of talented artists.
I’ve heard the Brainscape pitch before, but the big difference this month is that they mentioned the 500K+ downloads since they launched on the Apple App Store, and that got Nihal Mehta from ENIAC Ventures (panelist) pretty excited. I liked the phrase the pitcher coined for helping people learn: “timing of exposure.” Just like advertising, there is an optimal frequency to show someone a message to help that person remember the message. This idea is one of those industry-changers because flashcards could be the best way to learn versus traditional review books from Kaplan or Princeton Review.
Finally, LocalUncle is up for the pitch and it’s a super impressive pitch. This was one of my favorite products for the night because everything about the idea is very buttoned up. It’s like a Quora for Foursquare, where you ask questions about a place or geographic location to LocalUncle and they scan FourSquare for people who recently had a check-in for that place. That person who had the check-in can now answer the question the first person asks. It does rely heavily on crowd-sourcing and the whole greater good of the community (think Wikipedia), but it definitely is an awesome idea to learn about anything in real-time.
Congrats again to Indiewalls for winning the pitch contest, looking forward to seeing them in the news. See you at the next Ultra Light Startup meetup in 2012!