I just got back from the final round of the Community Demos for this year’s TechStars class. I am abuzz! These guys (& gals) are building some seriously cool stuff! Tonight’s demos:
Vacation Rental Partners – Much like Rent Monitor from yesterday’s set of demos, Vacation Rental Partners is trying to solve the headaches for a niche market. This time, we’re talking individual home owner’s renting out second homes for vacations. They’ve made things easy for owners while creating a solution that’s just as easy as booking a hotel for guests. It looks like a slick solution, but this isn’t a market that I know a lot about. I can tell you that the numbers that they presented looked very good.
ADstruc – I love these guys. With their (first ever) marketplace for outdoor advertising, they are creating efficiencies in an otherwise very inefficient market. Instead of dealing with brokers all over the country, large advertisers can buy coast-to-coast by clicking from the comfort of their office–or home–or coffee shop. This looks like a win-win proposition for all involved. Bonus: These guys have awesome partnerships already with more to come!
Spot Influence – This is another team working advertising, but this time, they’re helping advertisers identify influential people on very specific topics through calculations based upon how many people follow, listen to, and engage with these people on particular topics. It’s interesting stuff, but the lead in to their presentation made me think that they were helping everyday people connect with experts in their community on particular topics. Once I realized that it was helping advertisers reach me inside my social circles, I was less excited–at least personally. These guys offer a definite value, I’m just not their market.
Kapost – Kapost has created a virtual newsroom where anyone can write content to be purchased by publishers. It’s really a marketplace for words–definitely interesting. I’d like to learn more about their competitors already in the marketplace. My biggest concern is that the tech isn’t easily defensible. They will need to get a foothold into the market to make this a go.
GearBox – Hands down, GearBox won out of all the TechStars grads for fun! This was definitely a great way to round out the two nights of presentations. GearBox has built a ball that you can control with your smartphone. Here, you just have to see it. It sounds like the ball is just the beginning. They’ve built an API that will allow manufacturers and software developers to use their tech in any way imaginable. Back to the balls: if these guys would have had these on hand in the hallway afterwards (concert-style), I have no doubt that they would have sold out. A developer kit should be available in a few months. This did remind me of the Star Wars Force Trainer and similar toys, which haven’t been very successful. There are a few key differences, though. 1) The price point is better – expected to be $40. 2) This is portable. You already have your phone, and you can slip a ball into your pocket. 3) You’ll look much cooler using this than wearing some dorky headset. Oh & this is much more fun to watch than someone staring at a ball.
Where would I put my money? Omniar (my writeup from last night’s demos) & GearBox. To be fair, I think most of these guys are going to build profitable companies, but in Omniar I’d be looking for a quick return on investment & in GearBox I’d be looking for steady income and a fun time doing it!
Now you have it–my thoughts on the TechStars Boulder Class of 2010. I can’t wait to watch these companies develop. Their success so far has put a fire in my belly to get to work on my own side project!