Start-up accelerator Lab delivers right chemistry
My second visit to Shoreditch Town Hall in the past fortnight, only this time I had the right place. It turns out Shoreditch has both a town hall and a village hall (must be an important place), and both have recently played host to excellent meet-ups that have given investors and start-ups a chance to mingle, present and examine each other’s credentials.
Whereas the Big Data debate two weeks ago was a great opportunity to discuss the impact of data analytics on growing companies, Henry Chuks’ Startup accelerator lab was more Dragons Den than open forum. No free beer and pizza this time, but the host did encourage us to give our presenters a good grilling, and the free book on offer, “Gorilla theory: A new way to look at online project management”, said it all: Welcome to the Jungle.
With 20 years’ experience in the cut-throat world of PR, our first speaker, Suzanne Noble, gave a predictably feisty pitch, which showcased her faith in a product that came with a personal guarantee; her kids, and their friends, loved this app, and having just begun university, represented the target audience in a nutshell.
Frugl is a London-focused Events App, and as the name suggests it is as price conscious as it is a comprehensive what’s on guide for anyone streetwise enough to realise that you don’t have to be a student to enjoy a bargain!
Event details, tickets, directions and maps are all features, and, ably supported by CTO Tikiri Hulugalle and East London based designers Inktrap, Suzanne senses an opportunity to bring something new to London’s streets, and make a real impact. Say goodbye to those pesky crowds of students clogging up the pavement while they argue over where to go for dinner! Already available on Iphone and via the app store, Frugl is a night out’s new best friend.
If Suzanne convinced us that every group needs a decision maker, this was most definitely not news to our next presenter, Jodi, who has created Meetcha-At, with her business partner, who is also CTO.
Designed to democratise social gatherings and keep group dictators at bay, the App provides a platform for friends to vote for their preferred meet-up destinations form an agreed selection, ensuring a fair decision is made and everyone’s wishes are equally represented. If your social group includes a vegan, and someone with a Tofu allergy, like Jodi’s, or even if you have friends with diverse interests, this app is for you, and comes with a range of specifications that take the hassle and stress out of planning a group outing.
Jodi caused a collective intake of breath by revealing that she is seeking $1 million dollars in investment, as she wants to base the Company in central London and hire the best developers. No one can doubt her ambition, but will investors be asking “Where’s your head at!” to the owner of Meetcha-At? The app is available for download on the IPhone store.
Another entrepreneur looking to raise as much as he can, but perhaps a bit more cautious about revealing how much, was Dmitry Selemir, who has created Scriggler, a platform that brings bloggers, writers, journalists and anyone with an opinion, together.
Like so many Tech start-ups, the idea is simple, but the execution anything but. Content has to be monitored, advertising paid for, and writers employed to generate the initial content and give the site that buzzy zeitgeist feel. Dmitry is clearly an intelligent and engaging guy with a good product, but it will require careful nurturing. The kind of challenge an investor loves? Scriggler is free to use but premium services require a subscription.
Henry deserves a lot of credit for ordering the pitches just right, as next we met Tom Beevers, whose product, Stockviews.com, could almost be described as Scriggler for fund managers. You always get a good feel from someone who knows exactly what they want from a product, and in the absence of anything suitable, simply creates their own, and that feeling gets better still when they have quit the day job to go full time on the project.
This is what Tom has done, and it’s good news for online analysts, as stockviews.com ranks online stock recommendations, sorting the wheat from the chaff, and allowing fund managers to see the best of what the internet has to offer, without having to trawl through endless amateurish speculation. As befits an ex City-boy, Tom showed confidence in his offering; investors hands were already reaching for their pockets it seemed; just business cards were produced this time, but one sensed Tom could be on to something.
Forgive me if I skirt through the final 3 presentations, but after standing for 2 hours straight I was beginning to wonder if I could make it through another pitch, and if the increasing number of trips to the snacks table was anything to go by, I wasn’t the only one. Henry take note, how about some more chairs next time!
Tech Essence MD Ken Leren and Head of Business Development Stewart Jordan-Tubbs gave us a polished demonstration of their Performance Marketing tool, plus a free £100 voucher, which was well received by other entrepreneurs I spoke to, and the guys can expect a busy few weeks ahead. Nothing they can’t handle I’m sure.
Ain’t it always the way! Readers, the guy who was my favourite pitcher, the one guy I knew I was going to get in touch with no matter what, the speed speech guy from France who said what we were all thinking…I can’t remember his name….aaargh!! Details please, folks who attended, details!! (ed – it’s JEAN MARC!!)
Finally, then, our keynote speaker; a man who can surely lay claim to possessing the most entrepreneurial name of all time: ladies and gentlemen: Hercules Fisherman!
Poor Hercules had had to bide his time while others stole the limelight, however here was a guy who had been there, done that, and got the trilby. Sorry we didn’t get to see the video, Hercules, but something tells me, or at least I hope, our paths will cross again! Catch him if you can.
The start-up Accelerator was an event which felt like an event. Thanks again to Henry for organizing, keep in touch, and if we can maintain this level of intensity, the Silicon roundabout will keep spinning.
Suzanne Noble; www.frugl.com; @frugl
Jodi and husband: www.meetchaat.com;
Jean Marc Pierson; Speed-Public-Speaking; www.jeanmarcpierson.com
Hercules Fisherman; @herx