Today, 20 startups affiliated with Capital Factory gave 3 minute pitches to a room full of potential investors. Here are 8 that caught my personal attention.
1) Authors: CEO Monica Landers highlighted how book publishing is broken and offered a compelling solution for writers, publishers and agents.
2) Pen Pal Schools: helping 70K+ students connect around the globe has turned Pen Pal Schools into an award-winning business for CEO Joe Troyen.
3) ProHero: when CEO Mark Jackson (formerly one of John Elway's go-to-receivers at the Denver Broncos) told me I could book an experience with Tony Dorsett (yes, I'm aging myself), I was hooked.
4) GoodyBag: I've been watching CEO Jay Panchal's office catering company for awhile and recently met him in person. I'm impressed by Jay and the potential for Goodybag.
5) Kandid.ly: CEO Sam Ulu has combined his aerospace brilliance, P&G experience, and personal history into a compelling service to help us source photographers for more of life's important events.
6) Music Meets Video: with a wonderfully addictive approach to tallying votes for American Idol style performances, CEO Alex Mitchell's destination is seeing impressive growth.
7) PopUp Play: as a father of three, I especially enjoyed CEO Bryan Thomas's modern twist on building a castle.
8) ROIKOI: hidden under a serious surfer's exterior is the creative brain of CEO Andy Wolfe. And with ROIKOI, he's figured out a compelling way to help companies identify and recruit serious talent -- via passive employee referrals.
Kudos as well to all of the companies that demo'd today: Chiron Health (reimbursable video visits for physician practices), Cloud9 (mobile patient engagement), Curb (home energy monitoring), md Portal (telemedicine services), PreSchool2Me (childcare connection technology), Rent Rebate (Redfin for Apartments), SchooLinks (international education connections), Social Matterz (social media lead sourcing), Tastebud (dynamic pricing for food/beverages industry), ThinkVoting (a new way to mobilize citizens), TripChapmp (nextgen corporate travel) and YouRoam (free calls and texts to your phone over WiFi).
Overall, the day was polished, energizing and impressive. Thanks to everyone at Capital Factory and to all of the entrepreneurs who presented. Your hard work was evident and you all helped demonstrate why Austin has become the startup capital of the world (see: Kauffman Foundation).
* Disclosure: I am an advisor to Authors and a Partner at Capital Factory.
12/1/14, Austin, TX. Today, Alder Growth Partners announced that it has participated in the seed round of Experiment Engine. Experiment Engine provides a SaaS conversion optimization platform powered by human expertise.
“Via mentorship time during the Techstars program, I got to know Experiment Engine Cofounders Claire Vo and EJ Lawless well,” stated Steve Semelsberger, Founder of Alder Growth Partners. “From the onset, I’ve been consistently impressed with their expertise and execution. And I am a big believer in the market they’re addressing. Overall, I’m thrilled to continue to support them.”
“Steve Semelsberger of Alder Growth Partners has been closely involved in Experiment Engine’s journey from the beginning of the Techstars program,” said Claire Vo, Cofounder & CEO of Experiment Engine. “He’s rolled up his sleeves and helped us with multiple strategic and tactical growth levers.”
Other participants in the $1M seed round for Experiment Engine include Mercury Fund and Founders Collective. To learn more about Experiment Engine, please view their Techstars presentation (introduced by Steve Semelsberger) and visit their website.
From my first meeting with CEO Chris McClelland, I was intrigued by Brewbot. In a nutshell, Brewbot is beer brewing appliance that is controlled by your smartphone. Not only is the reclaimed wood and polished steel look of the "robot" beautiful, but the application experience and supplies subscription model are clever.
And the beer is good. When Chris and I sat down to discuss the Brewbot business, he was kind enough to pour me a few ounces of an IPA that he had crafted for the Austin Techstars program. The beer had an elegant blend of sweet and bitter. It clearly had been made with good hops and a smart overall recipe. While I'm not a beer expert by any stretch, I had trouble discerning any drawbacks from a top end regional craft brew.
And there was the genius: Brewbot enables any of us with a flair for experimentation and a bit of floor space to make awesome beer. Gone is the bathtub fermentation. So long to plastic buckets and tubes. With Brewbot, everything is wrapped into one modern, integrated system. Felt to me like the Tesla of beer brewing.
If you're at all interested, check out Brewbot on the web (where you can order one) and read what Fast Company and Wired are saying about the device. And if you're lucky enough to grab a Brewbot beer at some point, let us know what you think!
(Disclosure: I am a small investor in Brewbot).
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Steve Semelsberger is the Founder of Alder Growth Partners.