On Monday, August 26, 2013, OLC attended Entrepreneur’s Roundtable 61 featuring Women Innovate Mobile’s Deborah Jackson, Kelly Hooey and Veronika Sonsev. There were five startups that pitched after.
Kelly Hooey: I was an attorney and everything in my life has happened because of networking. We all met on Twitter—we met in 2011 and had an idea of starting an accelerator.
Deborah Jackson: I wear a lot of different hats—I’m an investor, worked 20 years on Wall Street. I’m a founder of my own company and co-founder of WIM. We believe that there needs to be more women entrepreneurs.
Veronika Sonsev: After being a media executive, I decided to start my own startup. I’m very passionate about women entrepreneurs. Think about why you are not doing it for yourself! Entrepreneurship is an opportunity to get to your dreams. We started WIM as a passion to see more women succeed.
KH: In terms of WIM, we’re an accelerator program similar to other programs. We look for mobile and mobile-first companies. Mobile has to be the driver of that business. We need to see diversity. We’re not all about women, we want to see a diverse founding team. We want to see a successful exit by a woman.
DJ: We look at all the companies we see as an investment opportunity. We look at it as if you will make revenue.
KH: We use a competitive application process.
DJ: Because the companies are so small, we personalize the process for these companies. All companies mature at different times. I can’t imagine a company doing it on their own and achieving rapid growth. Accelerators help you do that.
VS: We also look at how we can advance the businesses. Part of it is the companies are going through a four month process—we want to make sure we have the right mentors, right process. Part of what we do is question is the path for them is right.
Runway Passport was the first to present. Runway Passport is the hub for global fashion. About 91% of fashion media focuses on a few designers and focuses on four cities: New York, London, Paris and Milan. However, because borders are changing, Runway Passport is bringing the experience of traveling to the user. Local designers are on Runway Passport and curators minimize the friction between users finding items that they want. The fashion-forward market will be able to purchase items from relatively unknown designers at a cheap price, but quality material and at cutting-edge of fashion.
DJ: Is it ecommerce or content?
Runway Passport: It’s both. Content backs up commerce and keeps users engaged.
DJ: It’s getting to be a crowded space. How do you envision getting yourself out there?
RP: Right now, we’re going after local designers.
DK: Who is your customer?
RP: Women from 20 to 25, urban, with no children and in the art/fashion space.
VS: Global is really hard for what you’re doing. This industry is not very hi-tech or ecommerce enabled.
RP: We have a lot of designers interested in our business. It’s very direct—email us photos, email us content and we’ll do the work.
Esosa Ighodaro presented CoSign, an app that provides information and rewards people who refer products. “You take a picture, tag it, share it to Facebook or Twitter and when people click on the picture, a notification shows the cost and where it’s available,” Ighodaro said. “Affiliate marketing spending is at $4 billion and by 2016, it’s going to rise to $87 billion. People spend a lot of time uploading images and videos. Every online picture and video is a potential CoSign opportunity.” An Android app is due to launch this November and an iOS app is in the works.
VS: The space is very crowded. It’s easier to attract people using one vertical. Why did you choose to be broad?
Esosa Ighodaro: Part of our plan is to hit markets that are popular: Apparel, jewelry, electronics...
DJ: Is it standalone technology? How do you plan to get people to use it?
EI: Yes, it’s manual tagging and we plan to acquire users through celebrity endorsements.
Adam McCabe and Natasha Marra McCabe presented edPeople, a locally focused network for K-12 teachers. “Teachers lack a dedicated platform to network and schools don’t advertise open positions,’ they said. “Experienced teachers also have to apply to internal hiring systems and teachers don’t actively update their resumes. This is where edPeople come to help. With edPeople, educators can build a professional identity and develop a portfolio. Principals and schools can look for qualified candidates.” edPeople allows teachers to connect with one another and start their career instantly.
VS: What’s your business model?
Natasha McCabe: Premium services like LinkedIn, but at lower costs.
DJ: Who is doing the tech building?
Adam McCabe: We did work with professionals, but now I’m involved with a true immersive web development program at General Assembly.
Maria Ivanova presented her non-profit to-be startup, New York Green Awareness. “Looking for an apartment is not very ideal,” she said. “It’s a big hassle. You rely on the broker and typically you don’t get enough time to do research. It’s a lot of stress. It’s also a big investment and you don’t get a lot in return. For me, every dollar counts and right now, people pay the highest ratio of their salary for rent. There are things that you don’t remember to account for when renting an apartment: utility bills. We’re showing awareness—the right information on air quality, heating, electricity and more.
DJ: You need to be a for-profit.
VS: It doesn’t have to be a NP because it’s for the social good. You’re charging for access to information!
Celly Cents is geared towards professionals and time how long users spend their time on their phone. With Celly Cents, call, SMS, video and MMS billing can be made easy, as it tracks the time spent on the phone. It allows for concurrent billing and they plan to charge 30% to monetize. They can also work with any insurance company to push Celly Cents to the consumer market.
DJ: Who is the target market?
Celly Cents: Professionals—doctors, lawyers, nurses, freelancers, writers, and more.