On Thursday, May 9, 2013, OLC attended Ultra Light Startups' monthly event held at Microsoft. This event featured nine innovative startups with four brilliant panelists serving as advisors and moderators of questions. Gabor Szanto presented iMect; Demir Gjokaj, MONTAJ; Jack Funk, givlet; Jenna Fernandes, CareBooker; Peter Henderson, New Healthcare Enterprise; Richard Liang, BUZZtheBar; Tom Meredith, P2P Cash; Peter Gyorffy, Zinbox; and Anna Curran, Cookbook Create. The panelists present were: Josh Bruno of Bain Capital Ventures, Brian Cohen of New York Angels, Brendan Dickinson of Canaan Partners, and Jason Klein of On Grid Ventures. The hosts of Ultra Light Startups this particular Thursday were Mark Carondelet and Tatiana Bakaeva.
Gabor Szanto presented iMect first. Szanto created a core technology to process data faster than Apple's own technology. "We're able to process video, pictures and data very quickly. It makes apps run faster and run smoother. It even uses less battery life." Szanto showcased DJ Player as one case study of iMect's powerful technology. "It currently has over 600,000 downloads and we're a bootstrapped company." iMect is currently looking for a CTO.
Brendan Dickinson asked Szanto how he ended up applying iMect to a DJ app. “I’ve been a DJ for over 20 years. I needed an app that has low latency and smooth and doesn’t crash,” Szanto said.
“How do you monetize?” Jason Klein asked.
“The DJ market is small. Our technology is faster than Apple’s and I need a CTO and co-founder to help expand to other markets,” Szanto explained.
“What other verticals are there?” Josh Bruno asked.
“The easiest one would be to send it to Apple or use our technology for image processing, video processing and any kind of data processing,” Szanto replied.
Brian Cohen asked how fast the technology was compared to Apple’s. “It’s real-time programming. We know every memory bus and have hard facts to play with,” Szanto said.
Klein advised Szanto to find out what the technology exactly is. “Find a technology that this would be applicable for. You might want to look at the end markets,” he said. Cohen said that Szanto should be careful with marketing claims. Bruno said to see what verticals can be entered and if not, build a DJ-centric app to supplement Szanto’s DJing career—which would take off virally if the app is quality.
Demir Gjokaj presented MONTAJ, as a mobile video app. “We are currently raising $500,000 on our way to Series A funding,” Gjokaj said. “Users shoot clips and shake their mobile device to edit it. MONTAJ is adding a viral feature to your campaign. It’s focusing on user-generated content, unlike Videolicious.”
“How do you balance consumer with enterprise?” Bruno asked.
“We’re at the convergence between B2B and B2C. We’re building a community with brands. We’re not scaling a community—we’re telling stories and engaging people with it,” Gjokaj said.
“How does a brand engage with customers?” Klein asked.
“The advantage is a storyboard. It’s putting that on top of user-generated content. The brand gets to control the quality of the output, but it’s the consumer that gets to tell their story,” Gjokaj answered.
“Where is a scalable business there?” Cohen asked.
“Structures are fun to play with. The question is can you bring the entertainment,” Gjokaj said.
Dickinson suggested that Gjokaj meaningfully acquire consumers, because without it “there is no market.” Bruno admitted that one of the challenges in B2B and B2C is that there are a lot of competitors. “You need to find a sticky tool,” he said. Klein said that he didn’t “really get the B2B vibe,” and instead advised Gjokaj to focus on the inherent app for consumers.
Jack Funk was next to present his startup, givlet. They are currently raising $500,000. Funk’s givlet is a fundraising management platform for non-profits. It makes data easier to analyze. “As donations become electronic, they will undoubtedly increase,” Funk said. “The non-profit space is slow, so it’s a perfect time to disrupt. We launched an email campaign with 15 inbound leads per day.”
“How will donors experience givlet?” Bruno asked.
“It would be on the non-profit’s website. The low end as of right now uses Paypal. Higher end uses enterprise services,” Funk said.
“How will it help the organization?” Klein asked.
“It depends on what type of organization you are. It’s automating thins like thank you letters and ROI from target consumers,” Funk said.
“What’s the difference between full data sets?” Dickinson asked.
“We have a dashboard that shows the conversion rate, traffic sources and analytics,” Funk answered.
Cohen suggested that unless Funk and his team pivot, they should consider moving out of the space—much to the audience’s chagrin. Bruno avoided talking about pivoting and instead focused on progressing the platform, calling it a super simple and lightweight service that needs CRM tools.
Jenna Fernandes pitched CareBooker, an online platform that makes it easy to find and book family services. “You can find quality services and book interviews ASAP,” she said. “We monetize through appointment fees, partnership revenue and subscription fees. And our target market is the modern moms.”
“What are your channel partnerships?” Bruno asked.
“They’re going to add care providers to our site and share revenue,” Fernandes said.
“How do you think of horizontal verticals?” Dickinson asked.
“One vertical is not enough. We wanted to be an open platform where people can see results,” Fernandes answered.
“How are you going to scale?” Klein asked.
“We do have a geographic location targeted, but we have partnerships to rely on,” Fernandes said.
“Care providers lead to customers and it’s great that you’ve pursued partners aggressively,” Bruno said. Klein, however, advised that Fernandes focus on one vertical and do it well. Dickinson went back to his question and suggested that she think about horizontal vs. verticals. “Your reputation and brand are very important. You’re in the reputation quality business, not just the service quality business,” Cohen said.
Peter Henderson presented New Healthcare Enterprise, a consumer-facing platform that seeks to be go-to for healthcare and medical content. “We are raising $300,000,” Henderson said. “We want to be an online management platform for health behavior. Our emphasis on interactivity makes us Web 2.0.”
“As a consumer, who would push your product to me?” Bruno asked.
“We’re starting with B2B approach, but we want to move it out to the insurance space because healthcare data isn’t captured at all,” Henderson said.
“This is such a crowded space—I think you need to look at other startups and companies and take a good look at the marketplace,” Klein suggested. “I think you need to focus on trust and security. You need to build consumer trust,” Dickinson said. “As a front-end product, I’m surprised you don’t have a partner in the healthcare space. Get one as soon as possible,” Cohen advised.
Richard Liang presented BUZZtheBar, a free mobile app that lets you order drinks from an Android or the iPhone. They are currently seeking $500,000. “We’re operating ing a $23 billion market and we’re targeting $5 billion. We’re operating in 200 venues in five different cities and we’ve created a system that bartenders actually want to use,” Liang said.
“How will you ensure the beer will come on time?” Klein asked.
“We created a system based on how bars work. We automatically notify that your drink is ready using the ticket system already in place. Receipts are printed and drinks are brought to you,” Liang replied.
“What type of bars would you actually want to go to?” Dickinson asked.
“Nightclubs where customers are looking to spend money with the least amount of interaction with the bartender as possible and a service bar too to leverage it. It’s to minimize time,” Liang said.
Dickinson advised that BUZZtheBar think about the most efficient way of immediate direct sales force. “Think about what bars you want to enter because there are bars that cater to different people and have different atmospheres that don’t necessarily correspond with your app,” Bruno said.
Tom Meredith of P2P Cash presented next. With P2P cash, you can get cash and send cash using a mobile wallet. “There’s three billion people that have cell phones, cash, but no banking services. We’re creating an online standard to minimize risk. Our only competition is Zoom. Our goal is to minimize fees to zero,” Meredith said.
“How do you work without charging fees?” Dickinson asked.
“We work under SWIFT and banks are giving us money for transaction,” Meredith said.
“What about fraud?” Cohen asked.
“We have a team on the West Coast that guarantees us security,” Meredith said.
“I would just focus on fraud detection,” Cohen suggested. “As an investor I’d be wary of the margin of errors,” Bruno said.
Peter Gyorffy presented Zinbox, a revolutionary email tool that was described as “a highly visual email tool.” Zinbox turns your inbox into an entertaining platform to use. “Email is a major headache and it’s used differently from every people. The advance of mobile technology is changing the way email is being used. Zinbox will feature three major features that will change the interaction.”
“What is the critical problem you’re solving?” Cohen asked.
“You don’t have to search through list view—it’s more intuitive and visual,” Gyorffy said.
Bruno asked how Zinbox makes money. “There are monthly subscriptions and mobile version costs $4.99, but we’re still in private beta and solving pricing,” Gyorffy answered.
“What email clients does it work with?” Dickinson asked. Gyorffy answered that it works with any email client that uses IMAP. Bruno suggested that Zinbox not take money because it will be a lean application and start accepting money after it has a big base of users. “You’ve got to get the product done right. Focus on what you’re going to offer. Have a clear idea of what you’re going to do with it,” Klein suggested. “Start with a user case and just nail it. There may be some customization, but if you get it right, you’re going to have a winner,” Cohen said.
Anna Curran presented Cookbook Create, a platform to tell your story through food. “Cookbook Create is a website to tell stories with recipes. You can print your own cookbook to personalize to share with friends and family. Our competitors are focusing on print-on-publishing, not focusing on the cookbook problem—that it’s difficult to design.”
“What are you doing with the print-on-demand?” Bruno asked.
“We’re designing the cookbook for them and laying out the recipes with pictures,” Curran answered.
“Is this bigger than cookbooks?” Klein asked.
“Cookbooks are actually big. We’re interested in B2B and B2C. Brands would love to have their name in cookbooks that loyal customers made,” Curran said.
“It’s a big market, but an interesting one to say the least. I would think about deep industry and marketships,” Klein suggested. “It’s a celebrity business as well. Look at the celebrity marketplace and look at celebrity endorsements,” Cohen said. “Getting users to upload content is very difficult. Don’t think about your platform as a B2B company. Run with the B2C idea,” Bruno said.