Shameless plug: One of the "life happens" things is that the awesome Atlanta chapter of Women Who Code asked me to keynote their International Women's Day event tomorrow. So come out and see us (tickets are $5 with code "wwc2017") if you want to watch a non-developer talk "women in tech" to a roomful of women engineers. What could possibly go wrong here?
Plus, there's no such thing as "too much Consumer Show," amirite?
So the first thing to know for this show is that there are only four pitches, because one of the scheduled companies had an unfortunate family event and had to back out at the last moment. Because we've all been there and that sucks, let's give a round of applause for Flippy: Star in famous clips! We wish your team and families the best, and hope to see your pitch soon.
And now, on with the show!
THE PITCH RECAPS:
LuXuper | The App for Car Enthusiasts. | With a racy intro video (literally) that was a lot of chrome, plenty of seductive sports cars, and more than a little "Fast and the Furious," founder Gabe Fung-A-Wing kicked the night into top gear right away. I actually saw LuXuper pitch more than a year ago at Atlanta Startup Village, and it's interesting to see where they've grown, changed and pivoted since then.
"We’re about car people, cars, and car things," Gabe proclaimed, before explaining that the idea grew out of a single moment when he was a kid in Ft. Lauderdale. He was at the beach with his family and saw a flashy red Acura NSX pull up. That was the genesis — from that point on, he was enamored with beautiful machines. It was "the essence of car enthusiasts, bottled up in a single moment," if you will.
What did they do really well? The LuXuper team "has no quit." They've been at it for several years, they're not young kids in a garage — they're married with children and careers, and despite those challenges and more, they're still plugging away.
— LuXuper —
The car enthusiast market is diverse and large (one hundred million people strong!), but fragmented. LuXuper's app is primarily solving the problem with consolidation. If you're in the market, you can search the curated content and find amazing new cars. If you're a gearhead, you can get a lead on exhausts. If you're broke, it gives you inspiration. (Guess which category I fall into?)
LuXuper uses their database of 80,000 images (from manufacturer press photos) and 2,000+ luxury car profiles (complete with specs!) to captivate its audience. On the business platform, they plan to have a tagging model for vendor purchases, transaction and listing fees for dealerships, and test-drive connections. Once they grow, they plan to monetize these strategies as well. There's not a "minimum" car value to be included on the app (it's a bit more subjective), so the listings range from $35K Mustangs to the new $3 million Bugatti.
While none of its ideas are "new" per se, LuXuper says it's the first to take the interior design market concept and use it to combine community, content and commerce in a unique space for the automotive industry. Instead of Instagram, Facebook or other existing social media sites where there are many things competing for attention (cat videos! politics! sports!), LuXuper is a focused platform.
They do have several thousand users right now (48 percent of them from the U.S.), but Gabe says there is a humbling lesson he's since learned from the book "TRACTION" — it's not ideal when you launch and spend all your capital going to market instead of reserving some for marketing or distribution. They originally built an audience of more than 100,000 followers on Instagram and thought the conversion rate from that to the app would be higher. They've recently changed out the development side as well, but they're back on track and are improving velocity, and are looking to build more capital to share the app. They're also reaching out to automotive bloggers and influencers to get more traction in the app channel.
So if you're a car enthusiast, or even just looking for inspiration, stop trawling pics on Instagram — it's time to come on home to LuXuper.
PocketMaps: Information to go | Co-founders Mark and Michael started PocketMaps after a 2011 trip to Stockholm. They stopped at a visitors' kiosk at the airport and picked up a local map which was, as Mark put it, "a frustrating clusterf**k" of advertising. Upon their return to Savannah, the duo came with the idea of a grab 'n' go guide. It's curated to a specific city, the size of a credit card, and it's concise. Once unfolded, the map is in the center, with listings around the edge broken down by category (food, beverage, etc.), with photos, business names, some icons and price points. On the back, users find about 20 points of interest, as well as a listing of more local shops.
What did they do really well? The PocketMaps name — people find it online and it’s easy; all their marketing has been inbound.
— PocketMaps —
Feeling like you need more styles and sizes? Not to worry, PocketMaps offers three sizes, from the credit card to the size of an iPhone 6 and even up to a jumbo postcard, with a variety of fold types. These are all helpfully outlined on their site. (Which, I'll be honest, the OCD researcher in me loves, because it's chock-full of the answers to every question you ever had about their product. Seriously, check it out.) And yes, the curated process is harder because clearly scaling is a challenge, but they're building things based on data, like if it's a bed-and-breakfast that goes for $300-$500 per night, then they target the related ads to that clientele.
The big bang for your buck here is the team's AdBuilder offering, which (unlike competitors with laborious back-and-forth approval processes) allows purchasers to build and approve their ads in less than five minutes.
And it turns out people have loved the idea: PocketMaps has a ton of case studies on the site, ranging from small towns to big names like National Geographic and Nike. They don't think they're competing with, say, Yelp or TripAdvisor, because they're a tangible, curated product given out when someone checks in or otherwise interacts physically. That said, they do offer digital versions of each map online for their clients as well. They believe there is plenty of room for both Yelp and physical maps in the space.
And if you want to check out where they're headed after this, they have a sneak preview here. Next stop: Pocket-sized ideas.
Shotzy: Pro photographers on-demand | Frederick Marx is a surfer-turned-entrepreneur, and he says the two have a lot in common: They're both unpredictable; they reward risk; when you wipe out, the first thing you want to do is paddle right back out and do it again (his words, not mine); and when you get it right and ride the wave, it's life-changing. Just like building a business. I'm going to say Frederick would know: This is his fourth startup (two are still operating, and the third was sold).
So where does a serial entrepreneur look for the next big thing? In this case, our attention span, or lack thereof: According to a recent study, the average attention span for a goldfish is nine seconds. Currently, humans average 8.25 seconds.
Did I lose you already?
The good news from Frederick and his co-founders is that we can process images in a quarter of a second, so despite our "freakishly short" attention span, marketers can convey a lot of information through images and visual content.
What did they do really well? They've built an extremely strong product. Everyone who has used it has enjoyed it, and it's simple, easy and seamless.
— Shotzy —
Okay, but that leaves marketers with a different problem: Now they must engage their companies' audiences every day, many times a day, on multiple platforms. More than a quarter of the average marketer's day is spent on managing visuals, just to get your spastic attention for a hot second. The solution, of course, is Shotzy: On-demand, vetted, professional photographers, who create custom content for your business, booked in under 30 seconds from your cell phone instead of some quote-and-approval contract process. (To prove his point, the Shotzy team actually used their app to book a photographer to shoot the Consumer Show.)
Shotzy's target audience is B2B and B2C marketers, and that's a huge market: More than $50 billion was spent on outsourced content in 2016, and more than $300 billion for in-house and contract work. In comparison, Shotzy is fast, reliable, affordable, and built for your business. The revenue model is $99/hour, where the photographer keeps 80 percent. The protocol is for every hour, no more than 15 minutes can be spent on editing, but if there is additional time needed (more color correction, cropping, additional equipment, etc.), photographers can add hours in the app upon discussion with the client.
Shotzy spent 2016 hiring the team (all experienced co-founder veterans with at least one successful exit), vetting photographers (co-founder Taylor Lupton is himself an experienced, successful photographer who personally approves everyone), and building a nationwide network. They are live in five markets and have more in the pipeline, and are working to scale the photographer vetting process, as much of that is subjective and requires personal discussions (they accept only 30 percent of photographers to the platform, so it's a guarantee for quality work). On the other hand, they've had no churn of photographers on the platform, and are doing a lot to engage and build the photography community. This includes a bi-directional rating system for both photographers and clients.
So next time you need custom content, take a shot at a new way, with the Shotzy app!
SportsID: Revolutionizing the sports ecosystem | SportsID is a "data driven sports-technology company that focuses on providing modern mobile and web-based products and services to the sports market through one digital platform." Founder and former NFL player Ryan McNeil says he came up with the concept 10 years ago, and he wants SportsID to be "the IMDB of sports analytics and statistics," tracking fitness through school and on to pro careers as the universal dashboard for sports.
What did they do really well? They've recovered. Their initial launch went a bit off the tracks, but they've spent time getting input, getting dirty and stepping back to recover and reload. They came back with more experience and a dedicated team, and are ready to hit the ground running.
What can the community help with? The SDC community has been helping from day one, and it's been a heaven-sent community, vibe and spirit. For more help: Talk about SportsID! And if you know a sports organization or startup they should partner with, please share. Also, they've been bootstrapped for 18 months, and they'll be prepping to have meaningful funding conversations in the next month so they're looking for investors who are looking to be part of something cool. Finally, they're looking for a full-stack front-end developer to join the team, as well as a data scientist.
— SportsID —
As the first iteration, he's launching CampID powered by SportsID, to be "the Angie's List of sports camps." This solves a problem he saw with many of his friends who were parents: When spring rolled around, they'd reach out to him due to his professional sports background, and ask for help finding the appropriate sports camp for their children.
The sports camp market is $3 billion, and CampID plans to start by focusing on age 6, with a freemium SaaS model and a base of nearly 10,000 local camps. They'll be launching in private beta within the next few weeks, then move to a public beta, and on to a full launch in April. They plan to start in Georgia with limited sports like football, then move to more sports and more states in a scaled roll-out.
For the initial beta, the functionality will include a complete profile, while the paid version will offer a comparison feature (you can track against professional players, or other users). SportsID was also accepted in the SportsRadar Acceleradar program, which is the leading provider of sports data services globally and therefore serves up exactly the data SportsID needs via API connections. For younger players, the data is parent- or coach-generated, but they also plan to partner with high schools and associations like Little League for access to their data. Not to mention they want to stay local, so their growth pattern includes talks with potential local partners and providers of sports data.
Eventually, if a user isn't meeting goals they've set in the app, they plan to recommend strategies to develop, videos to watch, or exercises and drills to improve. The dashboard shows users where they are and what they have left to do to hit their goals, and if you're a little past your high-school football days, the next step will be to use the app to track things like marathon training, cycling, tough mudders and more.
SportsID: They're made with soul from the heart, and they're changing the game. Check them out!
That's a wrap for the thirteenth Consumer Show at Switchyards; see you there next time?