START is very happy to welcome Benjamin Ochoa Esq., who graciously wrote up a blog covering the 4 Demo Day companies at the October Demo Day. Benjamin has a bachelor’s degree in English from Rice University and a Law Degree from the University of Houston. Currently, he is an attorney practicing business law in Houston, Texas, helping his clients start companies, write contracts, license software and hire employees. He enjoys writing, country music and tacos. You can find some of his other entrepreneurial musings at his blog, http://law451.com/. Take it away Ben!
October 2013 Demo Day in a Nutshell
The good news is the house was full and the companies stellar, but unfortunately, last Wednesday was Start Houston’s last Demo Day for the year. Here is a quick rundown of each of the presenting companies, presented in no particular order.
The most delicious way to change the world. @groupraise
GroupRaise is putting a delicious twist on fundraising. If you want to raise money for a charity, all you have to do is sign up their website, pick a participating restaurant, and go eat with your friends. Everybody wins: your friends get to eat at a new restaurant, the charity receives a percentage of the of the check, and the restaurant potentially gets a bunch of new customers. Groupraise wins too. They also take a (smaller) part of each check.
The Good: They are already making money and have teamed up with Jason’s Deli and The American Cancer Society.
The Bad: Most of the money you spend goes to the restaurant, and unless you have a huge group of people, the amount of money you raise is small.
The Nutshell: GroupRaise is making raising money for your favorite charity as easy as signing up on a website and eating out.
Your full knowledge marketplace. @lrngo
LRNGO is commoditizing the knowledge in your brain. David Brake, the founder, believes anyone can be a teacher, and his company is creating a website where people can trade knowledge. First, people can teach each other skills: you teach me an hour of English, and I’ll teach you an hour of Spanish. Second, people can charge to teach one-on-one, or third, they can charge to teach on-on-many.
The Good: They already have 130,000 registered users and are receiving daily feedback from them on how to improve the site.
The Bad: Their biggest challenge is engagement and virality, and there are already many competitors in this space.
The Nutshell: Sign up today to start learning and teaching skills for free.
Add color to your life. @sebbolights
The Seebo is 21st century, USB-powered update to the classic glowstick. If you are tired of filling mother earth with glowstick trash every time you need to light up the night at a music festival, the Seebo is the perfect device for you. Its programmable, hackable, rotating colored LED lights are sure to attract attention and light up wherever you may be.
The Good: They have 563 backers on their kickstarter campaign and have raised $25,796 of their $35,000 goal.
The Bad: Protection of their intellectual property is an iffy proposition at best, and their founder admitted it was probably impractical to sue every imitator who copied the Seebo.
The Nutshell: If you like music festivals and glowsticks, get your Seebo today via their kickstarter campaign.
A less taxing tax experience
On the one hand you can walk down to H&R Block to have them do your taxes, but they are probably going to charge you an arm and a leg. On the other, you can do your taxes yourself and save some money but risk an audit. Max Refund seeks to create a third solution. They utilize an online marketplace combined with video conferencing so that people can get convenient, online tax advice at a reasonable price.
The Good: On there website, you can sort through tax professionals and schedule a time to have an online video conference with them, saving you time and money.
The Bad: They are probably asking too much of consumers to both search through an online marketplace and then do their taxes via video chat online. Too much choice creates confusion and inhibits adoption.
The Nutshell: Max Refund simplifies doing your taxes by helping you to find and talk to a tax professional online.
Site coming soon.
START is very happy to welcome our newest mentor, Sharon Du. Sharon is a patent agent in the intellectual property practice group at King & Spalding LLP. Her practice includes drafting and prosecuting patent applications, conducting patentability search analysis, and advising on the patent application process. Some of Sharon’s past clients include Apple Computer, General Electric, and Illinois Tool Works. Sharon holds a degree in Electrical Engineering and is an alumni of Rice University.
She’s ready to meet with START members and help them through any patent questions they may have. Contact Leah if you’d like to meet with her.
CheckedTwice has long been a supporter of START, having pitched twice at Demo Day. Now they’re our newest members. In the first of a series of short interviews with START member companies, we asked cofounder Andrew Swick 5 questions about CheckedTwice.
Give us your elevator pitch.
We help families organize their gift giving for the holiday season, birthdays and more.
What problem does CheckedTwice solve?
Knowing the perfect gift for your brother-in-law or your 3 year old niece or even your own teenage son can be really hard. We help people know the gift that’s going to make their eyes light up by taking the guess work out of that gift giving.
How did you come up with your idea?
At the start of the holiday season in 2002 my sister (and eventual cofounder) Rebecca emailed her wishlist to the whole family. Christmas day arrived and she got three copies of the same book. We used this system in my family starting in 2003, but in the last year we turned our family site into a full business.
Describe one challenge you’ve overcome – as a company or founder.
These questions are always really hard to answer. I’m always looking at the next thing and not dwelling on the past. The only challenge I can remember is the next one.
What’s next for your company?
Growth. Growth. And GROWTH. Our company is profitable on the margin. Our users love our product. Now we just need to get the word out and get more families on our site.
Wednesday, September 25th, START will once again be hosting Houston’s Startup Demo Day. This month, we have a group of companies as diverse as Houston’s key industries, covering O&G, hardware, software, and philanthropy.
Companies pitching will be:
eOilBoom - The Oil & Gas Funding Platform.
IT Assist - Knowledgebase built from day to day activities.
Philantro - Browse and Follow the Social Media of Countless Nonprofits – all in one place.
Trilogyz - Change the Way You Listen to Music
Thanks in advance to our mentor judges:
Come support the startup community in Houston, and join entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, media, and developers at Demo Day! A huge thanks to our sponsor, Saint Arnold, for their continued support of all things entrepreneurial!