Okay, I'm back! I know, it's been silent over here for a bit, but with the new year I'm finally getting a handle on a project that's consumed my life (and once I get over the PTSD of software implementation, I'll tell you all about it.... but that's another blog post). This week is also bursting with new events, new places, new people, so I had to get caught up so I could share.
This post is an event recap of Monday night's Atlanta Startup Village. (Read more about the history, the atmosphere, and why I love #ATLSV here.) While ordinarily hosted by WideAngle founder Jon Birdsong, he was out of town, so David Lightburn (co-founder of ATV and founder of Clickscape) stepped in for the night to do the honors. (These included an enthusiastic audience shout-out to Jon via the live streaming channel. Hi, Jon!)
First, though, the important part: The Beer Sponsor for the night was the tech side of CPA firm Smith & Howard, headquartered in Atlanta. (There's nothing like free beer to bring the techies in, and #ATLSV knows this well.) Many thanks, Smith & Howard team! We appreciate you!
Okay, on to the pitches:
Moxie Sports | Simple, Sports Scheduling.
Up with the opening pitch was (fittingly) Moxie Sports. Atlanta Tech Villagers from way back, founders Roman and Jerry aim to make amateur sports scheduling simple and awesome. Currently, that scheduling is "a pain in the butt" (real-life sports coaches, the pair felt so strongly about it that they repeated that mantra multiple times -- I'm convinced), and the Moxie Sports app simplifies it. With a great video showcasing the product, an intuitive interface that works much like a private Instagram account ("keeping kids safe"), and a really smart sync that works across all your calendars, it was an easy sell to the crowd. At one point, when asked how many users they currently had, someone from the back yelled out, "One more!"
My favorite part of the presentation? When describing where Moxie came from, they said, "It's how we play the game -- grit, grind, no excuses." Words to live by, guys.
Placemint.io | Find Developers where software is built, not where connections are made.
Placemint.io promises recruiters they can "easily access profiles of experienced tech professionals, summarizing their skill set, employment history, and portfolio with no candidate action required." Smart? You bet. (Plus, love the play on words in their company name!)
Co-founder Matthew Bennett said he was nervous, but you'd never be able to tell from his very professional presentation as he explained how Placemint works. Essentially, the app helps recruiters find engineers via online public resources. They started with the developer market because it has low unemployment and most members are extremely active online, resulting in that extensive public footprint. (They even zoomed in on a sample developer's current address, for instance ... okay, yes, it sounded creepy, but then they pointed out that recruiters can use that to gauge commute times to potential employers, which is pretty smart!) While they sounded like they still had some rough edges to sand down here and there (How do they "attribute" or track a successful recruiting process? Can developers "opt out" of being listed?), the premise is solid. Plus, their first search found two SalesLoft engineers who are amazing at what they do, so definitely seems like it works!
uTalk.io | Communities Powered by Audio
Baird Hall, CEO and founder of uTalk.io, wants to help broadcast your voice to the world. Building up a base with fantasy sports enthusiasts and people who want to talk NFL playoffs, this app "lets people play ESPN broadcaster." They intend to be an engagement platform with marketing tools, a community around content and brands, and seem like a strong contender with features like upvoting, easy in-line responses and a full Twitter integration. The users get 60 seconds to record a sound clip (yes, you can re-record if the first 10 times or so don't go all that well), and then it gets seamlessly uploaded with the proper tags to open up or join a conversation.
The audience seemed into it, suggesting several alternative uses and voicing interest in use for youth sports broadcasting and going global with soccer. Someone did ask about managing the community, and Baird said that it's been mostly self-moderating so far -- users tend to like the more explicit content but have been tagging it as "NSFW." If your target audience is a bunch of mid-twenties guys, I could see that being right up their alley. ... and I did bring home a card for my fantasy-sports-loving husband to check it out himself.
SPÜN Utensils | A calorie-counting, nutrition tracking utensil that will be your new best friend.
Moving into the popular world of weight-watching, Melissa and Umar of SPÜN presented next. A pretty nifty calorie-counting utensil that does the weighing for you, SPÜN Utensils leverages technology to a new degree. They ran a live demo (with a few Bluetooth glitches due to an overabundance of tech geeks in the room ... that happens at #ATLSV) showing how you identify the foods on your plate with a visual, and then the spoon (or fork!) "counts" each bite and measures the calories based on the weight.
As someone who's had to decide whether the restaurant portion I've been given is 6 ounces, 10 ounces, or what, and been left feeling like I ate either too much or too little, this was awesome! The utensils' brains are in the handles and they have removable "bases," if you will, so you can take them with you and dispose of the spoon's dirty bowl if you're out and about. Questions from the audience centered around medical applications (probably a really good idea for diabetics, among other things), how you calibrate it to you personally, how long the battery charge lasts (a week!), and possible future integrations with things like myFitnessPal (they mentioned some things in are discussion with a few big companies). I could see this going over big not only with the weight-watching public, but also dieticians and medical professionals. And apparently, they'd had a big push for chopsticks among beta testers!
LuXuper | The app for car enthusiasts.
Last but not least, Gabe with LuXuper took the stage (David Lightburn's intro was pretty solid -- "sexy fast cars up next!" C'mon, who didn't start paying attention there?). An app currently targeted at luxury car enthusiasts, LuXuper fills the gap between all of the fragmented social media markets and aims to become the community home for them. With a concept of user-generated content (mainly pictures) in a mobile-only app, LuXuper wants to bring together all those Ferrari-owning people who want more "specificity" in their car enthusiast experience. (To be fair, they did say they'd probably expand to other, more niche, markets as they grow. Mid-90s Honda Group, here I come!)
I also was impressed in how they'd thought about monetizing the platform -- "growth" is their primary objective, and they plan to do this through developing their own in-app currency (called, cleverly, "street cred") as a reward for engagement, which can then unlock features. (Oh, and users can purchase those credits in-app, too.) I'll be interested to see if they can hook in the right people to build the community up. Sometimes, all it takes is an NFL player or two and then you have an avalanche of followers. I'll cross my fingers for them!
All in all, really strong pitches tonight, and you can tell the time and effort that went into the prep. It's not easy to get up in front of a room full of smart people who are just waiting to poke holes in your idea, and I applaud everyone who took the plunge. Great job, everyone!