September 17th, 2013 ERA Roundtable 62

On Tuesday, September 17, 2013, OLC attended Entrepreneur’s Roundtable 62, with featured speaker, Micah Rosenbloom of Founders Collective.

Mitch Rosenbloom: Building a startup is like going up a roller coaster. The anxiety is building up and you’re regretting getting in the thing, but don’t forget that starting a startup is one of the most enthralling and rewarding thing you can do.

I moved to Los Angeles and I didn’t have any idea of going into business, but I knew that I wanted to start one. My first job was separating mail and photocopying scripts.

I was able to move out of the mailroom and at a desk. It was interesting working in Hollywood, but my roommate worked at a web agency. He thought of providing services on the web, so we conceived of It was like ZocDocs.

These businesses that we worked with were not on the web, so we had to manually fax each and every one of them when an order came in. It was a novel idea, so we were able to raise up to $7 million. We were over our heads. We went on to raise $21 million. Our initial focus was on small business, but we changed to large retail. We were the first wave of incubated companies in Pasadena [California].

One important lesson I learned is that you can raise too much money. The expectation was so high that we didn’t even get there [valuation].

I went to Boston for business school. There, I found a couple of entrepreneurs. The rest were interested in making money. We worked on different business concepts. I went to MIT to hire some engineers and ended up watching a real-time 3D imaging system built by a faculty member there. We focused on this technology and pitched it to 10 VCs, but no one would fund us.

We had our eureka moment with dental as our application. We started to figure out who to talk to and we lasered in on dental procedures. We ended up raising $8 million and sold the company to 3M.

About Founders Collective, we were relatively successful with out investments: Uber, Hotel Tonight, Harvest Automation.... We have a very diverse set of investments.

I joined full-time here in New York. We focus mostly on seed and have a bunch of philosophies about entrepreneurship. Always sell to the board is one. We believe that entrepreneurs have to always know that, so we chose to focus on seed round to stay on the same side of the table. Right now, we have 100 investments total.

Rob Caucci presented PijonBox, which keeps college students healthy and happy while keeping families in the loop. “We make care packages better,” he said. Every month, PijonBox sends 5 to 6 brands ranging from snacks, health essentials, gift cards up in a care package on a subscription model. They are currently looking at 20 million students with 35 million caregivers. Caucci cited that 63% receive 3 to 10 packages a year.

PijonBox’s vision is bigger than just becoming the next care package subscription.

They’ve reached out to off campus housing services and on campus housing to capture the market, leading to a lead-closing rate of 9.1%. Their revenue is $250,000, but growing 50% a week.

Sheila Maithal of Brillist presented next. Brillist is a global collaboration platform where users fund, hire and work with a collaborator in art, tech engineering, design and more.

Startups can use Brillist as a creative platform to solve problems. “This is especially handy for people who need a team to work on specific projects,” Maithal said. It is a freelancing market platform, but more open-ended. Brillist launched in 2012.

Jeremy Hamel presented StayHub. StayHub wants to be the first place you go when you arrive at your travel destination. “We want to be that because it’s the first place you make your purchasing decision,” Hamel explained. StayHub provides curated things to do. The hotel has the option to curate things as well. With hotel partners, their landing page [on the web] is changed to a white-label page of StayHub for more opportunities to gather revenue. They plan to launch in September.

Aileen Gemma Smith presented Vizalytics Technology. “Vizalytics' data solutions are like a GPS for your business. We simplify big data into actionable insights to give your business direction and make it more competitive,” Smith said. They are for stores who rely on foot traffic, and because foot traffic is unpredictable, they use data to give storeowners ways to solve it. “Store owners don’t know data,” Smith said. “And 50% of these businesses don’t have a website.” Vizalytics takes information from NYC open data and relays it to small business owners. They use targeted alerts using mobile platforms.

Victor Olex presented SlashDB, “a radically new way to integrate database with mobile, enterprise devices and the like.” Using its system of engagement, /db is able to utilize the consumerization of enterprise while maintaining a peer-to-peer communication and collaboration. “If data warehousing was the solution to this problem,” Olex said, “it would not be about business. To achieve this level of interactivity, data integration ahs to be thought of in a different way. When it’s first installed on the intranet, it provides uniform access layers. You can use it in a report, data feeds and feeds to integrate.” He said that database is the second highest expenditure other than payroll and SlashDB would help lower that cost—slash costs, if you will.