August 6th, 2013 The Brazilian: A Tech Demo Event by VentureOut New York
On August 6, 2013, OLC attended a VentureOut New York event featuring Brazilian technologists and entrepreneurs. The Brazilian startups pitched their companies to three panelists: David Teten, Partner at ff Venture Capital; Ross Goldstein, co-founder and Managing Director at DFJ Gotham Ventures; and Veronica Sonsev, co-founder of Women Innovate Mobile and CEO of inSparq. Mayoral candidate Jack Hidary acted as keynote speaker.
Mayoral candidate Jack Hidary began his speech by claiming that he was a serial entrepreneur. In 1987, he created his first email address. “Technology is about transformation of every single entity,” Hidary said. “NYC is No. 1 because anyone can come here and be unique. We’re interested in not one, but multiple spaces.” He said that foreign entrepreneurs couldn’t get funding from investors because the entrepreneurs had no credit, so he started an organization that would help them grow businesses. “We built food incubators, not just for tech. We’ve started design incubators for graphic design, jewelry-making and so on.” Hidary highlighted the fact that NYC, although full of incubators and support, was lacking in the outer boroughs. “There’s no microenterprising there,” he said. Hidary said that everyone has the ability to start a business and that to grow NYC’s economy, they need to attract outside investors to add to the $540 billion already swirling around the city. “This is a time of opportunity,” Hidary said. “We can change the world.”
After Hidary’s speech, three panelists were introduced to the audience. Veronica Sonsev introduced herself as the CEO of inSparq and the co-founder of Women Innovate Mobile. Their vision is to have the next billion-dollar exit in New York City with a woman on the board of that company. Ross Goldstein is the co-founder of DFJ Gotham Ventures, which has been around since 2000. On their third fund, the venture focuses on all types of space. David Teten is a partner at ff Venture Capital. Also on their third fund, they are looking to invest in Brazilian companies.
The first pitch was handed off to GeoSpace, a hyper-targeting localized media that focuses on advertising, mobility and precision. Assur Fernandes, the founder of GeoSpace pitched his company. “It is a state-of-the-art technology that uses geo-located advertisement in taxis,” he said. He plans to monetize through ad agencies. “Brazil spends $18 billion on advertising,” Fernandes said. “Local businesses are demanding affordable advertising that targets locals.” He explained that growth can be local and organic.
Veronica Sonsev: What is incentivizing the taxi drivers?
Assur Fernandes: It aggregates fata for the taxis. There’s over 2,000 taxi drivers on the waiting list.
Ross Goldstein: How do you get it into taxi cabs?
AF: We don’t have regulation for that. Taxi drivers have all control over that.
David Teten: What advantage do you provide over smart phones?
AF: We’re trying to deal with special advertisements.
DT: I’d prefer to see this platform on my mobile. It’s better customized on the phone than on a taxi TV screen.
Felipe Venetiglio, CEO of Dujour presented next. Dujour is a place where people that love fashion share their style. “Fashion magazines have been replaced by blogs and they’ve been replaced by street style. Content is difficult to get out. When people finally put it on Instagram, they use different hashtags,” he said. What Dujour does is, it takes readily available human behavior and applies it to fashion. They target fashion channels and can make lead generation for ecommerce platforms. They also have widespread market intelligence. Dujour currently boasts 85,000 users, mostly in Brazil.
VS: Is this B2B or a consumer play?
Felipe Venetiglio: We’re testing B2C, but we’re experimenting with ecommerce newsletters. We’re planning to bring it to tablet apps.
RG: How’s the 85,000 user case?
FV: We’ve started to build retention features right now.
DT: What about your competition differentiation?
FV: We had a vision. We want to be the best place to express fashion.
VS: One thing about UGC is that you’re going to get a lot of junk. How are you going to control them?
FV: Our main feed is curated content to set the bar right.
Pedro Jorge Saunders presented Qualita, which enables mid-size businesses to compete globally by making international trade simple. “The number of companies that import has increased a lot,” Saunders said. “Eight percent of the companies were mid-size.
They have a lot of challenges when trying to reach global customers. It’s difficult and expensive and time consuming. We invested in qualifying suppliers and we have access to database and supplies. Unlike the competition, Qualita does wholesale.”
RG: What’s your product market?
Pedro Jorge Saunders: We’re a tech-based company. We invest in some segments that have nice investments We have patents already. Right now, our sponsors have business in the market, so we expect them to know it fairly well.
VS: Are you a wholesaler? At a long term sense, what prevents companies from sidestepping you?
PJS: We’re a platform, not a wholesaler. It’s B2B, not very transactional.
Flex in Fit, a company founded by Danielle Newman is an online and mobile service that offers consumers an easy way to create and maintain flexible workout schedules for their gym. It allows users to book and reserve fitness classes and personal trainers, hassle free.
FutCup was presented by Bruno Nascimento, CEO and co-founder. “There are over 200 million soccer fans in the United States, but just 8 million play fantasy leagues,” he said. Futcup is an international non-gambling web service game that brings soccer fans together on one platform to cultivate friendship and competition.
Bruno Kenj presented PinMyPet, a product that monitors and tracks pets. “It’s taking care of pets with a compact, localizing device,” Kenj said. “Over 10 million pets go missing per year. And 90% of them don’t come back. Never lose your pets with PinMyPet.” PinMyPet uses a non-intrusive tracking device. The US stands as the largest pet market, with Brazil in second place. The device monitors physical activities and real-time location of pets at any given time.
DT: What are your functionalities of your product?
Bruno Kenj: For the tracking, we have a lot of software. Our difference is about the software. You get insights about the pet, get physical activity data and location data.
RG: Who are your competition?
BK: Some people think microchipping is invasive. And even so, you have to take the pet to the veterinarian to scan it.
VS: Have you commercialized?
BK: We built a prototype six months ago. We haven’t finished our new prototype just yet.
VS: This is a perfect Kickstarter project!
RG: Address your distribution strategy.
DT: This is in the object-tracking market. I’d want analysis of it in Brazil because there’s far more money to be made there.
Twitcast is a live video streaming platform that engages the audience using conversations in real-time. “Traffic of video will be 91% in 2014 and 58% of traffic from mobile in 2014 will be to video,” Geraldo Ramos said. Twitcast 1.0 has 350,000 users and the co-founder feels that it’s the perfect time to launch Twitcast 2.0. The problem with streaming video today is that it is difficult to monetize and engaging audiences is hard. Their business model is to easily create pay-per-view revenue streams and charge for access to previously recorded streams.
RG: Do you see this as asynchronous?
Geraldo Ramos: It’s designed to be a live engaging system.
VS: Can you clarify the product?
GR: Our solution is user content. We cast videos live and focus on individuals.
Carlos Estigarribia, co-founder of NearBytes presented next. NearBytes uses a proximity technology based on sound with features similar to NFC (Near Field Communication) that can be used on any Android/iOS legacy smartphone available today. Estigarribia predicts that by 2017, the “market size will be at $1.7 trillion and banks are adding proximity features to their product.” Estigarribia, however pointed out that there needed to be a way for phones to talk to each other without the internet. Estigarribia’s ocular app uses near high frequency sound waves to interact with other smartphones.
DT: Can dogs or children hear this frequency?
Carlos Estigarribia: Yes, it’s an audible frequency.
RF: What’s protected in this technology?
CE: All of the processes are patented.
VS: So your platform is the SDK and people are building on top of your platform. That adds a layer of protection on top of what you’ve already patented.
Tiago Compagnoni, CFO and co-founder of WeDemand was the last presenter. WeDemand is a platform for crowdfunding. “Promoters pay for the artists and the artists have to charge their tickets to include the venue fee, the promoter fee, and fans don’t get a say in any of this,” Compagnoni said. The solution is to ask fans what they want to see and how they want to see it. Fans can go in Facebook and demand what artist they want. Artists can also start crowdfunding campaigns and fans in turn can be viral marketers. WeDemand is a B2B platform.
VS: Who are your competitors?
Tiago Compagnoni: Local promoters. But with the size of our database, it’s better off using our platform.
RG: Do artists use it as a marketing platform?
TC: Yes, we help artists promote their concerts through engaging their fans through the platform.