On Tuesday, October 29, 2013, OLC attended Entrepreneurs Roundtable 63 featuring Jos White of Daring Journey Ventures.
Jos White: I see myself as a recovering entrepreneur. I’m now an investor. I set up my first company in the UK with my brother in 1992. We bought and sold secondhand IBM computers. It gave us an idea of how the market was changing. One of our customers asked us for Cisco routers and we found it and thought nothing of it. Well, we got a fax later of a list of Cisco products and we ended up making a huge margin from there and became a Cisco distributor in the UK. We supplied all of the early Cisco users and our revenue turned to be around $1 million a month.
It taught us about a market shift and that if you move quickly, you can achieve great growth and huge margins. Cisco then stepped into the European market and they made us an accredited distributor in 1997. We became the largest distributor in Europe. It was a great first step in my entrepreneurial journey.
Next, I set up one of the first ISPs in the UK. We focused on mid-market services and we became known for innovation. We set up virus scanning technology on email and spam catchers. We raised $40 million for MessageLabs. We moved to the East Coast and set up an office in NYC in 2002. The company expanded to different countries—and we processed about 3 billion emails a day, making $150 million in revenue. In 2008, the economy crashed, but we sold the company to Symantec for $700 million.
I started Daring Journey Ventures and do early-stage and seed rounds mainly for companies in NYC.
Lauren Kay presented The Dating Ring. “Online dating is terrible,” she said. “I created The Dating Ring to create an offline match-making experience with groups and group speed-dating sessions. Members spend all their time offline—not online—and we target all singles in urban areas.” The Dating Ring provides vetted members and it has shown a conversion rate of 2/3rds from free to premium users and rakes in a high number of referrals.
Alex Norman presented MyCoop. “In New York City, no one knows their neighbors. To get to know them, you have to pry yourself away from your screen and physically knock on their door to introduce yourself—or talk. There’s no apps to access apartment social platforms and MyCoop solves just that,” Norman said. According to Norman, users can do basically whatever they want on MyCoop—from complaining, sharing pictures, to flirting, MyCoop makes it super easy for tenants to share their lives with each other.
Shopbeam converts content into commerce. It provides the shortest path of inspiration to purchase. Apparently less than 1% of affiliate links lead to sales, but publishers want to inspire people to purchase items. But with Shopbeam, it allows people to buy items right on the site. They shop from advertising, the content—it is all shoppable. Every site that uses Shopbeam has a universal shopping cart.
Mogul Music Academy started off by saying that over 14 million Americans want jobs in the music industry. However, there is a gross lack of actionable advice and platforms to which would help mitigate their foray into the music world. With Mogul Music Academy, people finally have a place to take classes and learn from the best. Over 25 music moguls are already registered with the site, leading to 14% conversion rate across the platform. The celebrities on MMA teaches music on the site and users use those lessons to learn.
Liz Lambos introduced AppWingman. “There’s so much been done for the backend for websites and content,” Lambos said. “But for UI, that’s not the case.” AppWingman helps websites drive traffic and monetize through their frontend. “Designs were done through gut feeling, but we use data to help design apps using the best metric UI and improve design performance. We’re trying to remedy the barrier of entry for users.” AppWingman creates a marketplace to show data-driven analytic statistics, which can be instantly implemented throughout the site.