Thursday, January 24, 2008

A few thoughts on last night's Startup Camp

Thanks to Embrase for organizing this. Great crowd. Lots of young entrepreneurs. Awesome. Not enough angels (unless they all kept very quiet and/or are wealthy at a surprisingly young age). Probably just the right number of VCs, although there's a bunch of early-stage investors I would've expected to see there and didn't. (Forget Réseau Capital for a while, guys... your next 10X deal was in the room last night).

Format was a bit too strict and people couldn't keep from loudly networking during some of the presentations, which I think is natural and expected. Cool by me. Startups are chaotic, so I can't see why startup events shouldn't be.

Sylvain Carle live-blogged Graham Hill's (TreeHugger dude) talk. Check it out, good simple, advice.

I've seen two other good posts about last night:
Mike L
Quebec Valley

Quick thoughts on the presenters (check out their websites):

Cozimo: Looks very promising, very user-friendly. Not sure how much value they add to what's out there already (not a space I know very well). If I were them I'd go after very specific market niches, tailor a solution for each of them and focus. If you're a startup and your addressable market is over 1 B $ at Day 1 there's usually a problem.

Tungle: I'm totally biased, of course, but I believe these guys are going to be huge. (But 1st they have to LAUNCH, goddammit). One thing's for sure, Google and Mac support has to be early in the roadmap, since they seem to be the calendars of choice for a lot of the evangelists and early adopters out there.

Streametrics: Makes a lot of sense. Not sure anyone really understood how it works (only through their own player ??! website doesn't really clarify this for me). But timing could be perfect if they get any kind of traction and beat the dozens that are probably developing something similar.

I Gotcha Media: Lots of progress since their "wi-fi pad" days. Definitely cool integration of technologies. They look like they're onto something but I've always had huge concerns about "signage" technologies, whether it'd be for retail stores, malls, airports, elevators. At the end of the day, however cool and useful your displays are, you never "own" the real estate; shop windows, airport pillars, bathroom stalls, etc. So you're always easy to replace by the next hot new holographic displays, or, see your margins constantly re-negotiated enough to give your investors major headaches. So these guys have to find a way to "lock-in" their customers (long term deals, if they can pull it off...) or, maybe, find a strategic investor, some major real estate group maybe. (no website yet): If there is one industry that is "broken" right now and in dire needs for possibly incredibly lucrative solutions, it's the health care industry. So, guys, great job on finding a true problem to solve and try to make a difference. That said, good luck.

Albert Lai closed the evening by taking the self-deprecating-presentation art form to a whole new level and honestly did a great job at conveying insightful lessons from his hyperactive entrepreneurial experience. Hadn't heard of him before. I'm adding his blog to my Google Reader. I'm curious as to what else he has to say.

I'm late for my soccer game so I'm cutting this short. Can't wait for the next Startup Camp. And I really wanted to win the XBox 360. Next time.