August 8th, 2013 Ultra Light Startups
On Thursday, August 8, 2013, OLC attended Ultra Light Startups, hosted by none other than Graham Lawlor. The panelists in attendance were Weston Gaddy of Bain Capital Ventures, David Horowitz of Genacast Ventures, William Reinisch of Paladin Capital Group and Benjamin Siscovick of IA Ventures. The eight companies that pitched were: Stuzo, CliXLEX, wireLawyer, SumZero, Healthy Hand, TextPride, ZenoRadio and Bespoke.
Gunter Pfau introduced Stuzo to the audience. Stuzo is a marketing strategy firm hired by Facebook to run their pages and they increased ad revenue for Facebook. They learned a lot of market intelligence and found consumers to be moving towards mobile at a rapid rate. Stuzo’s platform is turnkey. It makes movement easy. They are doing this with 39 technologists and currently in the process of building a SaaS company. They plan to market to direct sales by leveraging social media expertise for lead gens.
Benjamin Siscovick: What do you do exactly?
Gunter Pfau: We deliver a SaaS platform that provides out-of-the-box for digital agencies. We enable them to locate them.
Weston Gaddy: So you give them a full mobile experience?
GP: We deliver soup to nuts.
David Horowitz: Can you talk about differentiation?
PF: We’re able to have businesses run on top of our platform. We’re also delivering an app store.
BS: I think you need to clarify what you’re doing exactly. I still don’t fully understand what you do.
William Reinisch: Maybe provide an example. Lead by example.
Richard Yawn presented CliXLEX, an intelligent cloud platform that creates configurable web forms and services from word documents. The transactional revenue model will returns significant ROI for CliXLEX. Their retail strategy targets small businesses. On demand cloud services allow for easy 24/7 service. Yawn plans to focus on the divorce space first.
DH: What happens after filing?
Richard Yawn: Developers will write code—we drop the document into this service and it creates platforms on command.
WG: How are you charging?
RY: We’re using a transactional revenue model. We charge $24.99, but it depends on what type of document it is.
WR: Why did you pick your targets? How are you doing to market?
RY: If you take your legal market, they’re weak. There’s plenty of organizations that need to be automated. Outsourcing isn’t working. There’s plenty to do.
WG: The idea is totally valid. You’re on the right track. Maybe focus on what the customer wants too.
Matthew Tollin pitched wireLawyer, an online B2B community for lawyers, focused on small to medium-sized boutique firms. They try to give databases to SMLs, just like how big firms have access to them. Their business model is tiered and uses referrals. “We’re like LinkedIn for lawyers,” Tollin said. wireLawyer is partnered with LexusNexus and has a database of every lawyer in the country. “No one is focusing on SML. Everyone is looking at consumer-facing and at enterprise,” he said.
BS: How much do you charge and why do lawyers stay in the system?
Matthew Tollin: Their revenue comes from having a large referral base. We help you maintain and track. Now they have a dashboard to maintain it. Price is $49.99 for 10 referrals.
Divya Narendra of SumZero presented next. SumZero is primarily for hedge fund investors. The social site is looking for buy-side experience and is an invite-only community. Its business model is to charge for subscription—$12,000 per year—and people who contribute gain access to the website. “There’s no other place to get investor advice,” Narendra said. “The basic premise was to connect investors and share research ideas. The reason I saw an opportunity is that investors actually do share information, but within their own circles. I mean, you're not going to share research with people unless you're in a full position. It's in your economic interests to say you like this company so that more people buy into it, raising the stock. At SumZero, we try to gamify experience.
The dynamism is that as the database gets bigger, the more valuable it gets. People want to post because they want to preserve their brand, their reputation”
WR: How do you curate the research?
Divya Narendra: We do spot checking, but it’s a very transparent company. It’s selfpolicing too. Your own reputation is on the line.
DC: Can you get a part of the revenue?
DN: There’s non-cash shares in place.
WR: You don’t need venture money. There’s plenty of industry people that will help you when you need it.
Chris Mirabile of Healthy Hand explained that his product helps people be healthier with one click at a time. It provides automatic delivery on scheduled time and people sign up to get up to two meal options for lunch every day. Once an order is placed, Healthy Hands automatically charges the credit card and the food is delivered—with all of the specifications checked. Healthy Hands makes $1.50 per order and charges $28 per month. The target market is 25 to 30 year old office workers.
BS: Is this is a nightly service? Why the monthly subscription?
Chris Mirabile: You can set your own service Without the subscription fee, you need to have 20 purchases to get $28. It also depends on elasticity.
DH: Are you getting the food fresh from the restaurant?
CM: Yes, you are getting it fresh. It’s made to order.
WG: I don’t know who the customer is. I’m thinking someone who is health conscious enough to pay $28, you’re going to know what you’re going to want to eat. I’d drop the fee.
WR: You should go after the health conscious wannabes.
Evan Wray presented TextPride, a mobile messaging app that brings branding to text messages. It personalizes the way people text by introducing brands to mobile. TextPride brings licensed emoticon packs to engage brand advocates. They currently have over 100,000 beta users and 17% have already purchased packs. Wray said that they plan to launch the full platform this September.
WR: Is it a texting service?
Evan Wray: Yes, I know it’s a crowded space, but we’re targeting brand-licensing aficionados.
WG: Is it a two-way messaging platform?
EW: Right now, it is primarily two way. We have very broad licensing agreements in place, though.
BS: You have conusmers interacting with other consumer and you have brands interjecting themselves into the conversation. I’m not sure this meshes well.
WR: You need two focus. You need to own the demographic. It’s not just getting brand logos, it needs to be fans talking about it. You need an extra value added service. It becomes more than just emoticons.
Baruch Herzfeld presented ZenoRadio, the “poor man’s Pandora.” ZenoRadio enables radios and other audio content through the phone. It’s broadcasted in 40 different languages and makes over $150,000 in monthly revenue. Herzfeld started getting money from advertisers, so he built an interactive ad engine to hit this audience—mainly immigrants. ZenoRadio works as a bridge from phone to streaming radio on a conference call platform. The service is a host agnostic service, which allows for broadcasters to begin broadcasting almost instantly.
BS: Can you clarify why this is a different product than other radio services?
Baruch Herzfeld: You’re opening up a hi-def audio stream and you can interact with a DJ. You’re not downloading the stream, instead the actual process is done through the phone. They call the number and they get the radio.
WR: How do you scale?
BH: We believe that our ad service is unique. It provides seamless direct advertising.
WR: You need to do deep advertising. Talk to advertisers that spend a lot of money to target these demographics that uses your product. You’ll make more money that way.
As the last demo of the night, Michele Spiezia introduced Bespoke to the audience. “Creative professionals have something called content chaos,” Spiezia said. “They have loads of portfolio content and tons of places to push it out to.” Bespoke is the solution to this clutter. It is a comprehensive platform that takes all of the content, distills it and adds privacy, as well as representation. Its business model is a 3-tier subscription model. Speizia added that Bespoke has just recently started focusing on the enterprise.
DH: What’s your strategy to reach people?
Michele Spiezia: Our network includes creative professionals. We plan to use a top-down strategy, but we also plan to take a traditional marketing strategy.
BS: I think you should unpack the word: creative.
WR: I think you need a more robust answer when you talk about cloud storage and the enterprise.