I attended the E27 Technology Conference today at Stanford University. Startups founded by entrepreneurs who are less than 27 years old were eligible to present. With a couple of exceptions these companies were all new to me, and a few have the potential to be real winners. The E27 founders did a great job of picking quality attendees (lots of venture capitalists, big company representatives and bloggers in the audience), and promising companies.
The invite-only event was created by Noah Kagan, Shivani Sopory, and Nancy Gong.
Below are my notes on each of the nine startups that presented. See Robert Scoble and Emily Chang for additional commentary, and Max Kiesler has a podcast recording of the entire event here.
I wrote about BillMonk last week. The company, founded by Gaurav Oberoi and Chuck Groom, have created an excellent tool for managing social debts and IOUs. It’s easy to see this catching on. IOweYou is a competitor.
411Metro, is an advertiser-supported free 411 service. Derek Merrill presented the company. His co-founders are Alec Andronikov and Alexey Bulavin. 411Metro joins Free411 and 411 Save in this space, with a nearly identical business model of playing a short advertisment from a competitor to the requested business. The company is seed funded from Hummer Winblad and launched in November 2005
Standpoint, which launched today, is a “wikipedia of opinions”. At its core it is a simple blog for users to post their opinions and links to websites that help them form or support those opinions. Topics are grouped and the aggregate opinion of the community on any topic can be gauged. Co-founder Justin Smith presented. Gentry Underwood is Standpoint’s other founder.
Robert Pazornik’s LicketyShip has the potential to be a big winner. It is an ecommerce service that can deliver purchased goods within two hours of placing the order. The magic? They combing local retail shops with the apparent over-capacity in the local courier market. Couriers pick items up at retail shops and deliver them immediately.
Lickety Ship hopes to tap into the must-have-now crowd (Robert claims theat 30% of Amazon orders pay for overnight shipping, often paying more for shipping than for the item itself). The company is beta testing now in a few select cities.
This reminds me of the good old days when we had kozmo to deliver a packet of skittles. The difference here is that customers will pay for this added convenience.
Flagr was founded by Matt Colyer, David Wurtz adn Cole Poelker – all college dropouts from Boston. They are collecting emails on their site for a private beta…but the company promises to allow people to send tips on real world stuff in via a text message on a cell phone. Type in the title, address and comments, send it to Flagr and broadcast it to your friends or everyone. Their tagline is “sharewhere”.
PlaceSite is another of my favorites from the event. They add their software to a standard wifi router and distribute them to cafe’s, events, etc. The result is a portal that all users of the network see that shows them current users of the network, allows instant messaging, etc. Their idea is to build more online community in these real world settings.
Placesite is up and running at one location now – Cafe Couleur in San Francisco (16th and De Haro). The revenue model is super-local advertising, customized versions for venues (this is great for conferences), and permission based licensing of user data.
I like it, and I want it on my home wifi.
Given the focus on instant messaging, PlaceSite seems to be trying to address the same market at Meetro – giving people who are local to eachother a way to meet online.
Box.Net is an online storage provider that launched in early 2005. They boast 4,300 paying users and funding by Mark Cuban. The founders, aaron Levie and Dylan Smith, were demonstrating the new functionality that they’ll be releasing in a couple of weeks. I’ll be writing more about Box.net and other companies in this space next week. This is a quickly evolving space.
Noam Lovinsky is the founder of Skobee, a new service to help people plan events. They seem to be a direct competitor to Renkoo. The site is currently collecting emails for the beta.
Both Skobee and Renkoo are focused on event planning (as opposed to an evite which looks at organizing people once the event specifics have been finalized). One thing I really like about Skobee is that users just email back and forth, cc’ing a unique skobee email address. Based on the live demo the service seems to be quite good at turning natural language into structured text. For instance, saying “Let’s do this on Monday instead” is understood by Skobee as a request for a date change and noted.
Johnny Liu’s NeuroSky claims to have created “the world’s first consumer-minded nural device”.
A longer description from their website is “Neurosky has developed a non-invasive neural sensor and signal processing technology that converts brainwaves and eye movements into useful electronic signals to communicate with a wide range of electronic devices, consoles, and computers”. Applications include controlling video games. Sort of scary and really cool.