Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Intro to Technori Pitches

I first heard about the Chicago Technori start-up pitch meetings on the Built in Chicago website and I had a chance to go to my first Technori meeting the last week in October. The event consisted of about a half hour to network with entrepreneurs, investors, and others interested in start-ups and then 7 founders presented pitches. Each person had five minutes to talk about their start-up and then another 5 minutes to answer questions. From the October Technori meeting, I thought the most promising start-ups were Utellit and JumpRope.

I thought Utellit presented an interesting way to keep in touch with friends. I’m always looking for new and better ways to do this – check out some of my favorite start-ups that help you keep track of your contacts and friends: Gist and FellowUp. Utellit aims to bring voice into our social media interactions, by allowing people to leave voice messages on friend’s facebook walls (i.e. instead of writing the usually “Happy Birthday!” on a friend’s wall, Utellit gives you the opportunity to leave a personal voice post instead). It also allows you to send voice text messages. Although, more recently, I’ve started to hear of a few other apps that are trying to bring voice into messaging as well like Voxer Walkie, which aims to turn your phone into a Walkie Talkie. At first I thought this was a great idea, until I started to think more about my own reaction to receiving voicemail. I rarely take the time to listen to my voice messages and instead I choose to either just call the person back and let them know I didn’t get a chance to listen to their message yet, but wanted to check what was going on, or I’ll check my email to see the Google Voice transcription. I signed up for Google Voice last year to get a 312 area code number, and now I love getting my voice messages transcribed (it also makes me laugh to see Google try to transcribe a message when it’s in a different language…). So this made me realize, if I don’t actually take the time to listen to my voicemail, what makes me think that my friends or I will take the time to click on every voice message on my Facebook wall to listen to it? It’s so much easier to just read a message and it's not as meaningful as receiving to an actual phone call from your friend instead. All in all, I thought it was an interesting idea but I questioned how much I would actually use the app.

The other interesting start-up that I learned about at the October pitch was JumpRope, which allows people at bars and clubs to skip to the front of the line by paying a specific amount of money up front to the venue through the app. A lot of the prices for some of the nicer clubs in Chicago ranged from $20-$30 to cut to the front of the line, which seems a little steep to me. I know females tend to have the advantage of getting into clubs relatively easily, but I can see how this app would be helpful for guys who have a little extra money to spend and don’t want to waste 30 minutes to an hour or more waiting in line. I can also see JumpRope really catching on in a city like New York where the club culture is big and more people like to show off their status by getting into exclusive places or buying bottle service. And for people interested in buying bottle service, they can actually buy the bottle through the app as well. Although I actually think this is a bit of a disadvantage because often times you can cut to the front of the line anyway when you tell the bouncer you’re buying a bottle or some club owners will negotiate on the price of bottles so buying one through the app might not be the best way to go about it. So far, I’ve really only used the app to get a sense of places to go out in Chicago and it's given me an idea of what clubs/bars tend to be more crowded or popular. I don’t actually see myself trying to pay to cut to the front of the line though.

Overall, I had a really great experience at my first start-up pitch event and I decided that I would try to go to these events more regularly, which is why I decided to go to the November pitch event as well...

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