We’re buzzing with entrepreneurial vibes right now after watching 10 great pitches at the fifth annual Techstars Seattle Demo Day.
Each startup spent the past three months preparing for this moment, pitching their polished business ideas to a group of investors here at the Showbox SoDo.
Three members of Team GeekWire — co-founder John Cook, GeekWire chairman (and angel investor) Jonathan Sposato and me, staff reporter Taylor Soper — just sat down and discussed our favorite presentations. Read on for our picks, and click through for profiles of each Techstars company from recent installments of our Startup Spotlight series. You can also watch each pitch here.
John Cook’s top pitch: Magicflix
From the Pitch: “This is my second startup, and this time, it’s personal. I’m a Mom, and parents like me have an issue with YouTube. Even with Dora the Explorer on YouTube, kids are two or three clicks away from profanity and nudity. This is a huge issue for parents. YouTube has over five billion views of kids videos a month — and that is five billion opportunities for something terrible to happen. We can solve this with our patent-pending, safe, curated video service for kids on mobile devices.” — Magicflix CEO Mamtha Banerjee.
Cook: “This was the one pitch that resonated with me because I’m a father and this is a problem that I encounter every week, trying to find good content for my son. It is a real pain. I don’t know if I would do a subscription service or not, which is what they pitched, but if they can provide real value and showcase really good content, this is the one I thought would really potentially do well.
To get me to pay, it would have to be high value and really segmented content. If they can tell me what is the best program for my 5-year-old, who is learning math right now — that’s valuable. If they can segment it like that and provide five or six alternatives, like ABCs, math, science, nature — then I would pay for that.”
Jonathan Sposato’s top pitch: Colatris
From the Pitch: “My co-founders and I have each been personally abused by a broken localization process and know it’s time for a change. But above everything else, it’s our core belief that quality product should be language-agnostic, and we’re working to make it so.” — Colatris CEO AJ Cihla.
Sposato: “Horrible name, but here’s the thing. As an Internet company guy myself, I needed this one yesterday. Localization is one of our biggest pain points. It is a process fraught with friction, fraught with error, and it’s also very, very expensive. They have just net it all out in one simple thing. They’ve reduced my localization cost by at least 10X. It is a way cheaper value proposition. That was really cool.
The second thing, and this one of the subjective things, but CEO AJ Cihla seemed a little more like a calm, thoughtful grown-up. This translates to being able to really close a lot of deals as an entrepreneur. I think about how he’ll be able pitch in front of any company, even Google, and transfer confidence with regard to what they can bring to the table. I like that about him.”
Honorable mention: MightySignal
From the Pitch: “We are the engineers’ approach to B2B lead generation. We are overthrowing one of the most archaic and broken aspects of a $30 billion industry.” — MightySignal CEO Shane Way.
Sposato: “I liked MightySignal a ton. They seem to have stumbled upon a really important insight. It’s sort of like drilling for oil, where they have tapped into an oil deposit that nobody really has considered, and I think that they have the core competency, expertise, and backgrounds to be able to do very well with it. They have very strong founder DNA.”
Taylor Soper’s top pitch: Garmentory
From the Pitch: “Is it possible to extend the boutique experience online? The answer is yes. Garmentory makes it possible for women anywhere to shop for boutique fashion and helps boutiques to expand their market reach beyond their local geography and build lasting relationships with customers.” — Garmentory VP of Marketing Hellai Sherzoi.
Soper: “I love Garmentory because they’re addressing a real, simple problem with a solution that just makes sense — both for buyers and sellers. The company is already generating revenue by helping boutiques — which, let’s be honest, aren’t the best at marketing or just don’t have the resources for it — sell their products online to anyone with an Internet connection. And I can imagine that those who like shopping at these local stores would love the ability to virtually visit boutiques around the nation with a few clicks.
I like the marketplace model and the 20 percent cut that the company takes on every transaction. Garmentory has a solid team with plenty of experience. I think this company can be the Amazon for boutique stores.”
Honorable Mention: True Facet
From the Pitch: “When I spent over eight years in the jewelry industry, I noticed every single day when people were shopping and selling pre-owned jewelry, they did not know if they were getting an authentic item or a great price. We built TrueFacet to solve this and have done over $280,000 in gross market sales in our first six months alone. Today, I’m going to tell you why we are going to be the winners in this $70 billion jewelry space.”
Soper: “TrueFacet also had a fantastic pitch, and the marketplace model is similar to Garmentory. I loved the presentation from CEO Tirath Kamdar, who laid out the clear problems with the used jewelry market: authenticity, transparency, and supply. The company, which says it will reel in $350,000 in revenue this quarter, already has an investment from Founders Co-op. I’m confident that they’ll find success.”
Check out the rest of the companies that pitched below.