November 1st, 2012
Field trip: Portland’s Glider (formerly Superbly) and the rest of TechStars Seattle Demo Day 2012
I accompanied a number of Portland folks who took a trip north to attend TechStars Seattle Demo Day, where Portland company Glider—formerly known as Superbly, a Portland Seed Fund and Portland Startup Weekend alum—and nine other companies took the stage to pitch their products.
I’m now on the train back, trying to hack my notes into something intelligible. I’m not convinced I’ve actually managed to do that. But I’m posting anyway.
Ray Ozzie opened the show, describing his experience as an entrepreneur and providing a reminder to all attendees about the serendipitous nature of mentoring, investing, and networking.
“Some of the ideas you’ll see today are incredibly ambitious, audacious, change the world ideas,” he said. “But don’t underestimate—really don’t underestimate—the potential you have to change these entrepreneurs’ lives going forward.”
Here are the companies, in the order they pitched:
Tred (@tredsite): Test drives delivered.
Tred is on a mission to redefine the way people buy cars, making the test driving experience less painful. How? By taking test drives off the car lot and bringing the cars to you. With Tred, would-be buyers start the test drive in their own driveway, drive the roads they see every day, and get to walk away with no awkward hard sell.
The service is launching in Seattle with a variety of dealership partners. Then they’ll look to roll out—pun intended—to other markets.
They currently have $1 million committed of $1.5 million. And they win for also wins quote of the day for “If you’re at the showroom and somebody poops their pants…”
Sandglaz (@sandglaz): The simplest way for teams to collaborate and plan.
Sandglaz is attacking the planning and task management space currently owned by tools like Microsoft Project and Basecamp. The problem, they say, is that these tools are either overly unwieldy or overly simple. And that there’s room to do something simple with some more structure.
Use a planning construct called the “infinity grid,” they allow folks to organize tasks and work into meaningful buckets over time. It reminded me a lot of Trello but the construct of time.
Sanglaz is raising $500,000. They have $300,000 committed.
Glider (formerly Superb.ly) (@glider_com): Bringing clarity to deals.
Portland startup Superbly has transformed into Glider, a service that allow you to negotiate and manage your most important contracts with ease. And from the looks of things, they put their time in Seattle to good use. Since we’ve seen them last, Glider has added a timeline-like dashboard to manage contracts and deals. And they’ve added integration with Microsoft Word and Excel to manage version control. That means users can work where they’re used to working.
They’ve also worked on their business model with a pricing model that boasts $12,500 per month for the service at the top tier.
Leanplum (@leanplum): Optimizing the long-term value of users in mobile games.
With sites, A/B testing is old hat. Not as widely adopted as it should be. But an understood practice. But what about A/B testing for mobile apps?
That’s where Leanplum is, um, leaning. Focusing on mobile games in particular with real-time testing. Using the service, app companies can test different scenarios within apps without having to touch code, wrangle developers, or resubmit to the app store. The product manager can handle it all.
They either didn’t say how much they were raising or I completely missed it.
Bizible (@bizible): Closing the marketing loop for the Fortune Five Million. Finally.
It took me a bit to get my head around this one, but if I’m paraphrasing correctly… Bizable plans to give brick and mortar business owners more data about how their online ads are performing—and which ones are driving the most revenue. In their words, it’s “Internet grade marketing analytics for the offline world.”
For end users, they can use the service without adopting a new set of tools. It integrates with existing systems. No CRM or call tracking or anything.
They’re currently raising $1.5 million and are oversubscribed.
Apptentive (@apptentive): The easiest way for every company w/ an app to talk to their customers.
Apptentive is looking to connect with users “on the most personal devices we’ve ever owned,” the mobile handset.
How? By taking customer feedback out of the App Store and allowing it to happen within the app itself. Or, to put it another way, by making customer feedback a conversation rather than a rating system, so that app developers can take action to solve issues. Think Get Satisfaction meets Urban Airship.
They’re currently oversubscribed on a $600,000 round. Almost double, in fact. To the tune of $1million.
Linksy (@linksyme): Identify and activate influencers.
Linksy endeavors to identify and activate influencers who follow your social accounts. Their example revolved around big brands, enabling them to identify the most influential people in the brand’s social graph—and then allowing the brands to communicate with them more effectively.
Once the connection is made, Linksy encourages influencers to share companies and can monitor the effectiveness of the influencers over time. Pricing starts at $3000/mo.
Linksy is sking for $300,000 and have $100,000 committed.
Maptia (@maptia): Building a beautiful discovery engine for places.
Maptia is helping to capture the true personality of places and helping people better understand locations. Think of it as a Wikipedia of maps and photos. Truly beautiful photos. Not just the voice of the crowd.
Going to drive revenue with promoted content, like Twitter and Facebook currently use. This could include wholly sponsored maps.
Maptia is raising $400,000 with $100,000 committed.
Nveloped (@nveloped): Delivering secure email directly to a recipient’s inbox without complicated plugins or portals.
Hate emails from your credit card company, credit union, and bank that—nine times out of ten—forces you to go the Web to get any relevant information? Nveloped is hoping to fix that problem by using a patent-pending process that allows them to verify user identity without a bunch of clunky forms. On the backend they help with tracking and auditing.
While Nveloped’s focus is security, their true value may be enabling organizations to craft emails that people actually want to read.
They’re working on a $750,000 raise with $550,000 already committed.
MobileDevHQ (@mobiledevhq): Enabling app marketers to get more downloads by understanding and improving their organic app marketing.
The world of search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) are changing the way people promote and discover content online. What if that same kind of thinking could help mobile app developers overcome the problem of discovery in app stores? MobileDevHQ is hoping to make that happen. Bringing SEM thinking to app developers, enabling them to better understand how to market their apps.
The initial version allows folks to analyze apps by popularity, categories, keywords, pricing, and more. Plus they analyze how the app is performing in the market. And they can advise on which terms to pursue.
The company is already generating revenue, with projections for $500,000 in revenue this year. They are currently raising $600,000 with $350,000 committed.
Another TechStars Demo Day in the books
Congrats to all of the companies who took the stage.
If you’re interested in being one of them next time around, keep an eye on the TechStars Seattle schedule. Class begins in August of 2013.