Founder’s Co-op’s Chris DeVore, left, shakes hands with Apptentive co-founder Robi Ganguly at TechStars Demo Day

Well, that sure was fun. TechStars Demo Day just concluded, with ten startups showing off their wares to more than 600 people at the Showbox Sodo. The room was packed, and the energy was flowing as the crop of startups wooed investors with slide decks and sly one liners. Heck, Andy Sack’s son, Jude, even wowed the crowd with some impressive magic tricks.

Nearly everyone I’ve spoken to in the aftermath of the event — including Swype’s Mike McSherry, Madrona’s Greg Gottesman and Haiku Deck’s Adam Tratt (a TechStars grad) — largely agreed that this year’s class was the best yet in the three-year history of the program.

Even more impressive, several of the companies — including Bizible and Glider — have already raised significant financing rounds.

Now, for the fun part. As in year’s past, here are my picks of the top three presentations. I also cornered tech luminary Robert Scoble after the event to get his picks, but more on that later.


Tred CEO Grant Feek

Tred led off the presentations, and it didn’t disappoint with a unique way to purchase a new car by bringing the process to your home.  Perhaps the most consumery company of the bunch, Tred’s Grant Feek, who we profiled last month, had the tagline of the day.

“Test drive from your driveway, and buy from your iPad.”

What I liked: The pitch was straightforward and easy to understand. Very clear delivery, and Feek tossed out some impressive numbers, noting that 11 of the 13 people who’ve used the service have purchased a car. Now, of course, that’s a small sample size. But, nonetheless, we all know that buying a car is a pain in the ass. Why head to a showroom floor when you can research online, and have the process delivered to you?  The company is looking for $1.5 million in funding to fuel its Seattle operations, so it’s unclear whether the business model will scale as it goes into other markets. But Tred certainly is one to watch.

Full pitch here:


Co-founder Robi Ganguly appears to be a crowd favorite, and from everyone I’ve talked following the pitches, this is the hottest startup in the bunch. There’s good reason why. Apptentive brings customer service to mobile apps in an entirely new way.

What I liked: Solves a real problem, helping app developers interact with their customers in new ways. It’s also impressive that the service is already operating within apps such as Urbanspoon and I wanted Ganguly to share a bit more about the monetization of the service, but he (as well as angel investor Chris DeVore) followed up via Twitter and answered that question. Basically, it’s a monthly subscription service, selling seats with various tiers for features and audience size.


I never thought I’d be interested in the problem of A/B testing mobile apps. But after hearing today’s pitch, one can certainly identify with the problem. Overall, a very strong pitch from a technically-savvy group of entrepreneurs.

What I liked: Wicked smart team whose done this before — at Google of all places. Also, similar to Apptentive in that you can clearly see the problem they are trying to solve, with customers who’d been willing to fork over some dough for the service.

Full pitch here:

Dorothy Sanders of Maptia pitches at TechStars Demo Day

Meanwhile, following the presentations, I was able to corner tech luminary Robert Scoble to find out about his favorite pitches from the day. They included Apptentive, Maptia and Linksy, as well as Sandglaz and Tred.

Nonetheless, Scoble wanted more mobile, noting that seven of the 10 companies should have been in the mobile arena.

On Maptia: “I liked Maptia, but I wanted them to be mobile. She was the best presentation. If I was just investing in an entrepreneur, I think I’d invest in her.”

On Apptentive: “I’m a big believer that mobile is the way to build big companies, and if you bet on mobile, there are going to be billions of people joining the Internet on their phones, and a lot of them are not going to know what a desktop computer is.”

On Linksy: “I liked Linksy because I am an influencer and so that was interesting to me. I’m on the marketing team at RackSpace, so I am always looking for good ways to market.”

(Editor’s note: GeekWire’s Taylor Soper contributed to this report)

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  • Seattle Startup

    Wow…looks like we were at different events. Tred – adding $900 to the price of new cars? How is that a model?

    • Robi Ganguly

      Hi there – I think you might have been a bit confused about what Tred was saying – they aren’t adding $900 to the cost of the car – they make $900 from dealers, who already spend a boatload on generating leads etc. As they outlined in their preso, Tred makes 3 promises, one of which is to get the consumer a great price.

    • Adam Tratt

      It’s called DISRUPTION. Nice going, Tred. As someone who has paid hundreds for the services of car brokers just to avoid dealerships, I’m looking forward to using your service. Great show, yesterday.

  • Chia Chin Lee

    A great event all around. Loved the pitches, well done!

  • Robi Ganguly

    Wow, thanks for the kind words John. Yesterday was a really amazing day – our class got to tell our stories and share our visions with an awesomely engaged audience. We’re really excited about the future and the opportunity to bring customer love to the whole world :)

    • Seattle Startup


  • Michael ‘Luni’ Libes

    I too agree that the quality keeps improving. And I agree with your top two. My third pick was Maptia, but given the imagery, this design screams out to be on an iPad, next to Flipboard and the other few gorgeous apps on that platform.

  • Sarah Jane Coffey

    Great work from all the TechStars Seattle teams.

    Personally, I can’t wait to buy a car without ever setting a foot in a dealership. Bring Tred to Boulder already!

    • Aaron Bird

      +1 I love Tred.

      • John Wehr

        Fist bump.

  • Krishnan Gopalan

    Great event and wonderful teams. I would have liked to see one big audacious, change the world pitch, but did not get that. Hats off to Geekwire for great coverage.

  • Seattle Startup

    Sad to see my comment with data deleted. Geekwire: really?

    • johnhcook

      Thanks for commenting Seattle Startup. Appreciate you bringing the comment issue to our attention. Occasionally, posts that include links get stuck in the Spam filter, as appears to be the case here. We’ve approved the comment, and it appears below. Thanks again for participating in the GeekWire community.

      • Seattle Startup

        LOVE TRED! I was just kidding…trying to get some action on this post.

    • Whatles warss

      Blame disqus they suck!

  • Sky Kelsey

    Demo Day was a blast. After all our hard work, we were able to show everyone what we’ve been obsessing over for the last three months. I thought all ten teams gave exceptional presentations!

  • Grant Feek

    Thank you Robe and Aaron for the support (as always), and thank you John and GW for the continued kind coverage.

    Sarah, we’re coming! ;)

  • Andrew First

    Thanks John for the writeup! Everyone did an amazing job yesterday.

  • John Wehr

    Glad you’re interested in Tred! You’re right – we work with dealers to reduce costs like marketing and sales commissions, then use the savings to fund the service and offer users a great price. A six minute on-stage demo doesn’t leave a lot of time for detailed financials, but you’re welcome to email me at with any questions you have.

    • Seattle Startup

      LOVE IT! See above…just trying to get some action. Sell me a car!

  • KartofflMuter

    Wow! Really exciting stuff! The Silicon Valley thinks they have a lock on innovation but it’s clear that Seattle has the real STARS. Great work from each and every team. You are truly the ones to watch.

  • Nishant

    Tred is what disruption needs to look like! Rooting for you guys.

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