Web 2.0 Expo, Startup Showcase
Last spring I was asked to be one of the judges for the Startup Showcase at the Web 2.0 Expo held this past week in NYC. They also asked me if there was anyone who I would like to do this with and my first answer was Mo Koyfman. In completely transparency going to mid-town or even a conference is something I rarely do but I was really delighted to be asked.
Mo and I got on stage and told a little bit about ourselves including what type of investments we were seeing or liked. Then we went over to a large room where 23 companies each had a table, and of course their computer or iPad, to show us as well as the attendees what their company was all about.
I had done my diligence and checked out each companies website before the day. I had zeroed in on two that really interested me prior to the event but open to being swayed in another direction as entrepreneurs had the opportunity to talk to both Mo and I for a few minutes about what they were doing. In the end we both liked the same two, Freshocracy and Elect Next.
Here are all the companies that presented:
- Bar & Club Stats, Inc.
- Elect Next
- Go Go Mongo!
- Peer Belt Inc
- Social Passport
I was familiar already with Freshocracy and am a fan. Christina has taken the CSA to the next level and one that certainly works in an urban area like NYC. A subscription based model to receive 3 meals every other week to prepare at home and the ingredients come directly from the farm. Each ingredient is proportioned out based on the recipe that is included that week. I like this for several reasons. I love that fresh food is delivered to your home from local farms. I also like that their delivery comes only for a few times over the course of two weeks because NYers tend to go out more than stay home so Freshocracy is manageable. Most CSA’s are weekly and you are given random food that is picked that week and many times people look in their bags and wonder what they are going to do with lets say four pounds of beets. Freshocracy is promoting home cooked meals from the farm to your table and giving specific instructions that are helpful to many people who want to cook but aren’t sure how. A win win across the board. How big can this scale? Not sure but even if Christina and her partner can grow to be in the boroughs of NY only they are creating a business model that works for them, in essence a lifestyle business where they can make enough money to enjoy the fruits of being an entrepreneur.
The other business we liked was Elect Next. You go to their website, plug in your zip code and then begin answering questions pertaining to issues and what side you stand on from taxes, healthcare, foreign policy, etc. Once enough data is provided Elect Next tells you what candidates you should be voting for including local congressman, judges, etc. Many people react to who they are voting for based on media, advertising, etc and this poll basically steers you in the direction to vote for people who represent your beliefs. I am not so sure that everyone votes for candidates based on that and if everyone did, I believe the results would prove to be beneficial. The other part I like is that many times when I get into the voting booth although I know the top candidates I do not know who the judges are and I’d like to choose one based on what I stand on not just based on my party of choice particularly when there are multiple options.
Social Passport was chosen by the attendees as the winner with Freshocracy coming in at a close second. Social Passport is an aggregation of all your social media in one tool so Four Square, Twitter, Facebook and Group-on all rolled up into one. Merchants sign up to give the users discounts too. I’m all for competition but not so sure I believe in the model they have created. Time will tell.
Best part was is seeing so many passionate entrepreneurs in one place hoping to get funding, customers and exposure. Whether they succeed or not they have all tried to start something different with the hope that they will have created that something that scales. That is exciting and as the technology revolution continues to grow and move forward these start-ups are creating new businesses regardless of being small or big and that is exactly what our economy needs.