By Dennis Clemente
The growing number of startups in this city must be overwhelming tech meetups. Last June 12 at the Microsoft Building in Times Square, Ultra Light Startups kept its regular programming of eight startups but with more VCs on the table: Jeff Finkle. co-chairman at ARC Angel Fund; Jerry Hao, associate at NYU Innovation Venture Fund; William Reinisch, venture partner at Paladin Capital Group and Caitlin Strandberg, associate at Flybridge Capital Partners.
The invited panel of investors listened to the two-minute presentation of startups and in between, provided them the necessary feedback for possible venture funding. The presenters were a mixed bag.
Wise Banyan claims to be the world’s first free wealth manager. “We’re reducing barriers to investing,” said founder Herbert Moore who said the startup is gaining “incredible traction with millennials.” This report alone could have been elaborated, but because of time limitation, the presentation moved on.
The Loadown is called a real-time marketing optimization platform for apps with clients like PBS and Random House.
The VCs’ advice to David Renard of The Loadown: “Think how pricing will affect profitability and get more data. Plan how to get $100 million in revenue in 5 years.” It sounded like the startup is on the right track, but sometimes it’s really just about the VCs trying to get more data and insights from the startup.
DoRevolution is supposed to be an actionable platform for online advertising based on Watson’s AI engine, but sometimes it’s hard to tell what the company is about when the presenter is in a squirrel mask. Samir Patel removed it eventually, but the distracting mask confused a VC: “What do you do?”
Aarting’s Todd Wahnish describes his startup this way: “It’s a crowdfunding platform that makes it easy for visual artists to create and sell custom products. “We have a product the hustles itself.”
For artists, it’s a way to test the waters and see if there is demand for your work. “We don’t have to make anything. It’s all pre-order. We have no inventory or warehouse,” said Wahnish who has come a long way from “being homeless.”
Echovate reportedly provides fact-based hiring insights for the modern small business. Think FICO score. What is its value? Turnovers can be costly. Matthew Gough said companies should think of reduced turnover.
Chatwala is a two-way, face-to-face ongoing video conversation with your friends and family. It’s been nearly a year since we last saw Chatwala at the AOL building, but Tej Bhatia clearly has to be more aggressive these days when, according to one VC, “Snapchat is rolling something similar.”
What is it? It’s making conversation real-time even if it’s not real-time. Or how you can come back to the great-looking video interface and resume a previous conversation, as if it’s in real-time.
A VC gave some cautionary advice: “Raising 1 million to figure out your startup may not be the way to do it.” That commend would have been normal hearing It from Reinisch, the Hatchery regular, but the VC went out of character, telling Bhatia to “forget the noise.” Reinisch stressed how important it was for Chatwala to hone in on the technology it wants to use. Strandberg said Chatwala may want to study its users.
Binary Event Network with its Pivit is a marketplace that captures, rewards and reports changing public opinion about real-world events in real-time.
Then there’s the “real” software among all the other presenters, AfreSHeet, which presented disposable bedsheets which the young founder Maxwell Cohen thinks would be perfect in dorms—the college market.
“Martha Stewart vouched for this,” said Cohen whose co-founder is his mother.
Strandberg leaned in saying the market is really hot, especially when people are talking about protecting the environment.
Mark Caron of bMobilized and Bill Gallagher hosted the show.