You know what I like the most about startups? – Their willingness to collaborate with each other, share their success stories and failures and always eager to seek out the advice. You don’t see this happening with big corporations.
Yesterday we had a Startup Telepresence Roundtable organized by iStartegyLabs, hosted by AT&T Innovation Center and run by DJ Saul . We had one startup from New York, Miami, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. pitch its company and then brainstorm with all the participants. This was my first telepresence and I was blown away with how much valuable information you can get from such collaboration. They say “one head is good, but two is better”. In our case, we had about 40 participants with various backgrounds and expertise. The biggest problem for all startups was, not surprisingly, the market outreach. Even though each of the four startups had a different target market, all of them faced the similar challenges. And that is the beauty of this collaboration, by helping one startup; we were giving ideas on how to solve a problem to all other participants.
Here is a short summary of each startup.
The first to present was E[nstitute] from New York.
They are adding a new twist on education system by providing a 2-year apprenticeship program for 15 young adults (age 18-24) with top NYC entrepreneurs. The idea behind E[nstitute] is: “If you want to be the best, you have to learn from the best.” They have about 30 entrepreneurs in the program with such companies as bit.ly, learnvest, thrillist lerer ventures and bunch of others. During the first year “the majority of time will be spent as a founder’s apprentice, where fellows work under the entrepreneur assigned uniquely to them in the application process.” And in the second year the apprentice will be able to refine the learning scope centered around one specific business area. Also if you want you can switch a startup you worked with in the previous year. Any startup that is trying to disrupt education system is automatically on the top of my list. The best suggestion given during the brainstorm was to go after parents and educate them on the benefits of this program.
Next to present was: Boutiika from San Francisco.
Boutiika allows you to “discover new arrivals from independent designers and your favorite brands at boutiques near you”. Boutiika creates a profile for each boutique with a summary of their specialty design fields, provides google-maps of their location, and displays a gallery of current products. You can browse through latest arrivals, see the prices and pin it to your Pinterest account. My “2 cents”- I want to be able to buy the item I like online. Granted, going to a boutique is an experience which you cannot substitute for online shopping, but with my insane schedule I cannot afford to go shopping and most likely I am not the only one. Think of all those working moms – that’s a market on its own!
Vaultbox.me was next to pitch from Miami.
As with most startups, the founders of Vaultbox.me were set to solve one of their personal problems. One of the founders has been robbed a few times and he had to go through a painful process with insurance agencies to recover his possessions. Which to say the least were not very successful. So, they decided to build a tool that allows you to create and inventory of everything in your house; so that, if you are robbed, you can provide the list of items to the insurance agency and recover the loss. “You can use your iPhone or iPad to go around your home and enter the information about all your items in the designated fields. Within VaultBox.me you will find fields for the serial number, cost, purchase date, notes and also an area to take and store picture.” My advice would be to partner with private wealth managers. Granted not everyone has one, but wealth managers go with their clients over every possible catastrophic event and robbery could be one for some.
And in the conclusion we had Ashoka Changemakers from Washington, D.C.
“Ashoka Changemakers provides the tools and resources to empower everyone to contribute to a better world.” It reminded me of a kikstarter. Though, the missions of the projects are different. You can create your own profile to tell the community about yourself, what inspires you, “what changes you’d like to see in the world”. Then you can explore the whole community, link to the profiles you want to work on the project with or let Changemakers automatically match you up with profiles that would have common goals with you. There are also competitions which you can enter to get the funding for your project. To the question of partnerships, the first thing that came to my mind was the World Bank. First of all, they are already in Washington D.C. Second, they have multiple competitions annually which have the same mission as Changmakers – they want to make the world a better place.