The LAUNCH Team followed every TechStars Boulder demo as it happened this morning, Aug. 4. Twelve companies -- starting with energy-savings-as-a-game SimpleEnergy and closing with contact-management-solution FullContact -- made their pitches to a packed room of investors. Note: all times are PDT.
All photos from @nicklongo.
10:58: Boulder 2011 is wrapped.
10:57: Nicole thanks volunteers and sponsors.
10:55: TS Boulder director Nicole back on stage. How to get more involved? Three things. Write a check. Become a customer. Join them tonight at the party.
10:54: Raising $1.5M Series A, $1.25M already committed.
10:52: Business use case: Highrise CRM. Auto-complete of records powered by FullContact API. Served over 10M contacts in July via their API. Pricing is simple -- $0.03 cents per contact. Enterprise pricing goes up to $20K a month.
10:50: FullContact makes a complete contact record from various sources and verifies it before releasing it to their customers. Company takes privacy very seriously, consumers can control the info that's out there.
10:49: History of contact management -- Plaxo, Jigsaw, both had big exits. Bart says they are excited about FullContact's future. They use "processing power to do the heavy lifting."
10:47: Biggest businesses in the world face contact-management problem every day, says CEO Bart. 89% of businesses think the customer info they have is incorrect. $1 to fix at entry, $10 to fix each contact later. But costs $100 to do nothing because of missed opportunity, poor customer service. etc.
10:46: Introducing FullContact [final presentation].
[ Our FullContact profile here. ]
10:43: Example: couple taking a romantic trip to Las Vegas gets offered a personalized list of activities they can book on their trip. They book the helicopter tour offered, and Flextrip gets a 30% commission and the travel agent that was working with the couple gets 30% of that tour fee as well.
10:41: 21K activities on Flextrip you can book right now. 300K in the database but not yet bookable.
10:38: CEO Leith says Flextrip is a B2B solution for travel companies so they can get more revenue from existing bookings. $27B spent on tours and activities, more than cruises and car rentals combined -- but a $20B missed opportunity because booking option not integrated online. Existing distributors don't work.
10:47: Introducing Flextrip, applies "tried-and-true" direct-marketing business model to tours.
[ Our Flextrip profile here. ]
10:33: SocialEngine attracted 300 marketers for its beta in two weeks, has mailing list of 60K people. [ Did not give amount raising. ]
10:31: Alex gives example of Coca-Cola, which didn't engage an influential person. SocialEngine would point out the person and recommend responding. SocialEngine knows what Chipotle should do when a customer complains (and highlights that complainer, which the company missed). Customers can keep using dashboards and blogging platforms with SocialEngine, also integrates with Radian 6 to offer smarter suggestions. Not competing -- enhancing what's out there.
10:29: Alex, CEO of SocialEngine, says they are applying what they learned about social media from their last company. They know it's hard for companies to manage social media, know what actions to take even though they spend $4B on social media. Monitoring programs don't tell them what they need to do, they don't need another dashboard.
SocialEngine gives plain-English, practical advice.
10:28: Introducing SocialEngine, which another company wanted to buy during its first week in the program.
[ Our SocialEngine profile here. ]
10:27: Inboxfever is raising $500K. If you email email@example.com with subject "InboxFever" you get info about the company.
10:26: InboxFever has free and premium plans -- premium offers white label, high email volume, document storage, etc.
10:20: CEO Doruk says Inboxfever makes email-powered apps simple for any company. For example, you send email to stocks@inboxfever with ticker names in subject line and get back the latest share price -- in your inbox. BloombergHT is using InboxFever for stock prices, and Bloomberg learns what its customers are most interested in.
10:19: Introducing InboxFever. Mentors says he hopes you see what he saw -- something very interesting.
[ Our InboxFever profile here. ]
10:18: ReportGrid raising $500K, $200K committed.
10:14: SnapEngage is a customer in the private beta -- got analytics in four hours. For another customer, it took one developer half a day to get ReportGrid running rather than taking six months and half the engineering team to build. 50 companies are waiting for public beta launch.
10:11: John, CEO of ReportGrid, says companies spending millions on trying to get good analytics for its users. Gives Kickstarter as example. Their analytics only shows how much money raised so far, not how artists can do a better job raising money -- customers begging for better analytics. Takes time to build analytics, and commercial tools out there are meant for internal use. If Kickstarter used ReportGrid, its artists could know that Baby Boomers are best demo.
10:08: Sendgrid CEO (TS '09 and now mentor) introduces ReportGrid. Told founder to do TechStars rather than take a job.
[ Our ReportGrid profile here. ]
10:07: GoSpotCheck raising $500K.
10:05: Result from one mission: brand's product on the shelf was six months past its expiration date.
10:04: Brand sets mission and can see feedback immediately. Consumers who want to do missions can use GoSpotCheck mobile app, get paid cash for completing it.
10:02: Matt of GoSpotCheck says they crowd-source monitoring of brands, which spend $16B on shelf positioning a year. Matters because consumers make decisions while shopping in the store. Brands spend $3B on merchandising audits, but the data takes weeks to get back to them. They lost $15B in sales because merchandising agreements screwed up.
10:01: Introducing GoSpotCheck -- mentor hated the business model initially, says they did the "hardest and best pivot" of all the teams.
[ Our GoSpotCheck profile is here. ]
10:00: David says they had no editorial control over the show. Will have party in each TS city to watch the first episode. Let's keep rolling.
9:57: David Cohen on stage, talking about TechStars series on Bloomberg TV. He said it was literally just filming what they do. They wanted to take the mystery out of what they do (this stream is not the reality show, of course). Queues up trailer for show, which starts Sept. 13.
9:54: TS Boulder director Nicole introduces Congressman Jared Polis, who represents Colorado's 2nd district and is one of the four TechStars founders. He says he started an entrepreneurship caucus to educate fellow members about the importance of startups.
9:27: Taking a 15-minute break.
9:26: Mocavo traffic so far: 130K uniques, 5M page views and people spend 17 minutes on site. Raising $1.5 Series A, $550K already raised.
9:24: Mocavo users get own page where they can add ancestors and show them who's looking for the same people. Subscription package gives you automated updates. People are willing to spend money on ancestry.com. Mocavo is complementary because it focuses on the open web, not databases.
9:21: Mocavo CEO Cliff takes stage -- he built most successful genealogy companies already. People spending $1.5B on genealogy and the market is growing. Genealogy search is manual and time-consuming, and not social. Google only indexes what is fresh and popular, and dead people are neither.
[ Our original Mocavo profile here.]
9:14: Food distributor Sam needs to move his expiring and overstock product (fresh fish), but his customers need to sell to customers as well. He offers a deal to Baja Fresh, which needs deal for its customers. Sam Creates a buy-on-get-one-free coupon fish tacos coupon in MealTicket, and Baja Fresh can then review it.
9:12: Dan of MealTicket outlined problem for food dsitrubutors (who sell to restaurants): 50% customer retention. They can't compete on just price.
9:11: MealTicket introduction, team has deep experience in food industry that most startups don't have.
[ Our MealTicket profile here ].
9:09: Simple pricing plan based on number of students, from $10 per student per year down to $1 student per year. Raising $500K.
9:08: Results -- 50% of students return the same day, 75% increase in attendance and $800K brought back in projected funding from using the program. Schools interesed beyond L.A. include Seattle.
9:06: L.A. Unified School District lost $25M last year because students didn't show up -- Zak says that's why they're excited about TruantToday. The company immediately emails and texts parents when their child skips school.
9:05: TruantToday -- led by 16-year-old CEO Zak -- getting introduced. He spoke at the Clinton Global Initiative in June and won the business plan competition and voted most likely to succeed. President Clinton said that young man should run one of our Fortune 500 companies.
[ Our profile of TruantToday here. ]
9:04: Creative Brain is raising 500K with $100K committed.
9:02: Brian explains how they differ from other game engines. For instance, Unity is too complex for most social games.
8:59: Brian, CEO, says it can take six months to port a game into all tablets, smartphones and computers. Creative Brain reduces development time and provides complete turnkey solution.
8:57: Creative Brain Studios takes the stage. Make game once and deploy it to millions of connected devices.
[ Our Creative Brain profile here. ]
8:56: Flixmaster raising $750K, $250K committed.
8:54: People who spend millions on video are first target -- 300 participants signed up for beta. Those companies and filmmakers want to make videos for training, entertainment, political campaigns, how-tos, etc.
8:52: Erika is showing how you drag-and-drop images into Flixmaster. Can take video directly from YouTube by copying URL. Collect email addresses in video.
8:50: Branched videos are more likely to receive at least 200K views and can double conversions, says Erika.
8:49: Erika says a pizza chain in New Zealand has 4M views for its video while Domino's had just 800K -- because of branching video.
8:47: Introducing Flixmaster -- what they thought was a small market is a big market. Erika of Flixmaster takes the stage. Flixmaster links videos to other videos to text and photos, what they call branching video.
[ Our Flixmaster profile here. ]
8:45: SimpleEnergy has talked to execs at over 90 utilities across the country since joining TechStars. $500K of their $750K round already committed. Big applause.
8:44: Friends can compete to see who's saving more energy -- demo features Brad Feld and David Cohen (because we know they don't want the other to win). Hell Pizza featured zombies, and user gets to choose whether you let someone chased by a zombie into the car.
8:41: Justin of SimpleEnergy announces San Diego Gas & Electric as one of their customers, lists all the things the utlity gives away to get their customers to save energy. Utilities spend $11B to get people to reduce consumption but they can't get results.
8:39: SimpleEnergy takes the stage. Company aims to change how millions of people save energy.
[ Our SimpleEnergy profile here. ]
8:37: David Cohen introducing TS Boulder director Nicole Giaros, who says teams sacrificed much to be there.
8:35: Love the Mocavo intro: "I see dead people."
8:34: Just getting started. Everyone is on stage and companies are getting introduced. Lots of adrenaline-pumping music and lights. Whoo!