August 31, 2010

Moontoast

moontoast logotalentGraphzgrzrlogo Record: Moontoast

Funding Status:  Series A?

Exec Team’s Background: my.emma.com, Myperfectgig, Schematic, North American Membership Group

Investors: TBD

Industry: Consumer Web, eCommerce

Offering Description:  Branded Community Part social. Part commerce. All Yours. – Embedded Store Sell Your Products on Your Website and Everyone Else’s. – Private Sales Club Make Your E-Commerce as Prestigious as Your Brand


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August 24, 2010

Bloson

talentGraphzgrzrlogo Record: Blosonlogo bloson

Funding Status:  Seed

Founders Backgrounds: Sedo.com, Raytheon

Investors: ?

Industry: Consumer Web, Social Cause

Offering Description: Bloson gives you the social content you want, and the social action the world needs.


August 17, 2010

Mowbi

talentGraphzgrzrlogo Record: Mowbi mowbi logo

Funding Status: Bootstrapped, Seed

Founders Backgrounds: T-ShirtKing.com, Shipyard Brewing Company

Investors: Seeking investment

Industry: Mobile Application

Offering Description:

Mowbi is a mobile commerce platform for everybody.

Mowbi includes a mobile store, mobile billing and invoicing system, a mobile credit card terminal and text marketing tools. Because of Mowbi’s modular design, it is being integrated with enterprise applications while at the same time it is the perfect tool for your next garage sale. Just put your garage sale items in to a mobile store and publish the link in your classified ad. People can see, and buy, your items before they arrive plus you can accept credit cards, PayPal and Google Checkout at your garage sale.

Adding the ability for remote sales teams to buy and sell from their phones has a lot of potential to increase income and cut expenses for many businesses. Mowbi is modular so it can be integrated in to enterprise systems affordably.


August 16, 2010

Paul Graham is a Brilliant Recruiter

I am sure the epithet recruiter is not something PG will lay claim to, but the facts speak for themselves. Their recruiting program may have developed organically but the new application that lets would be aspirants apply to all of the YC companies at once, makes it clear that recruiting hackers is one of the factors that drives the YC startup creation engine.

For an example of  a world class technical recruiting program, look no further than Y Combinator.

Sequoia Capital calls Y Combinator “The startup scouting system”. It could just as easily be called “the hacker scouting system”.

Yes, I have written about this topic before.  In Paul Graham is Seilling the Children I described (a bit tongue in cheek) how PG cannot go wrong in making money from the YCombinator investments.

The premise was simple. Pay about $ 6,000 for an  engineer that will be worth between $ 500k to $ 1 M+ at acquisition. The product doesn’t matter that much. Maybe they make something that generates revenue, but even if they don’t, a talent acquisition can still make a good return. (Parakey, Divvyshot, reMail)

Take a look at this recent interview where he states  “the founder is a lot more important than the idea” about 42 seconds in ( a bit out of context, sure, but the point is, YC has more of a recruiting bias than a business idea bias).

A highly successful recruitment program consists of the following components;

Sell your Dream: Why work for the Man when you can start a company, make something people want and possibly get rich.

Build and Nurture a Talent Pool:  The YC alumni network alone is probably approaching 1,000 hackers. Add that to the participants on HackerNews,  the potentially thousands of companies that apply every year, and it is clear that YCombinator has amassed the largest affinity network of hackers, startup founders and would be start up teams in the world. They also host their version of a Job Fair where the portfolio companies present to groups of vetted candidates.

The latest creation of http://ycommonapp.com/ further increases the reach of the Y Combinator recruiting effort and helps them build an even larger talent pool with the promise of  introducing you to 30 startups for 10 minutes of effort .

Source candidates from the Professional Graph: YC companies have been known to acquire each other, presumably these are hackquisitions, (acquiring company for the hackers) “hey I think I coined a phrase”. They regularly hire from other YC companies.  They also promote YC through the growing professional network of portfolio companies, their employees, mentors/advisors and investors.

Utilize Social Media: http://paulgraham.com/articles.html and   http://news.ycombinator.com/ PG’s series of essays is widely read and each new entry is propigated around the web. NewsYC is a highly engaged community of startup enthusiasts, hackers and has probably the best discussions of all things technical on the web.

Generate Media Buzz: YC companies probably get a dis proportionate quantity of  ink on TechCrunch.

Other media:   MixergyIncMotley FoolTimeBWNYTNewsweekUSA Today

Stay on Message:   Hackers good:Suits Bad.  Read any of these articles and you will see the recurring theme….  http://www.paulgraham.com/future.html or http://paulgraham.com/yahoo.html or   http://www.paulgraham.com/boss.html

Conclusion:

With a  pool worth over a $ Billion dollars (acquiring value) of engineering talent to draw upon, it is clear that the YC recruiting effort is paying off. This fact,  I’m sure is not lost on Sequoia Capital and well worth a $ 10 million investment, to tap into.

What does this have to do with Your Company?

First of all, realize that recruiting is a form of direct marketing. Then notice that the marketing YC is doing is permission based.

Your company should; know the audience that will be receptive to the message and focus on that group. Craft a story that will be attractive and draw candidates into the talent pool. Then promote the opportunities on multiple fronts using traditional media, social media and professional networking.

One can only hope to be as effective as Y Combinator at recruiting. What you can do is take these concepts and adapt them to your program to attract and build your talent pool.

What do you think your company can take from the YC recruiting playbook to improve your results?

August 12, 2010

When Will These Web Sites Launch Q3 2010

Every quarter we compile a list of new web properties that are in private beta or “coming soon” stage. We hope to give them a bit of exposure and help with early customer sign up.

The other goal is to encourage them to come out to the public and start to get feedback from the user community. We are rooting for you, so launch that leaky boat or take your first steps on the water.

We think  Reid Hoffman (founder of LinkedIn) was giving good advice when he  said this.

‘If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.’

First let’s recap the list from last quarter to see what progress has been made.

http://www.fashionstake.com/ Still private beta.

http://localot.com/ Still splash page.

http://www.universalmetaphor.com Still splash page that says  “Stop by again later this year.”

http://www.jumpseewow.com/ currently under construction

http://www.blogcastr.com/ looked like it was live, but when we tried to sign up, it says “oops, requires an invite token”

http://tutorialtab.com/ not public yet. Says “apply for Alpha”

http://mogoterra.com/ has launched and recently transitioned to a paid service.  If you are building a web app you need to know how well it supports cross browser functionality. Give Mogotest a try.


https://alpha.wattzy.com/ has launched and is free to sign up. Give Wattzy a try if you want to save on energy bills.


http://www.waysavvy.com/ Looked like it was live, but clicking on Sign Me Up, asks you a few anonymous questions and then gives you this message.  “Enter your email to get notified when we launch”

http://www.fanzanimal.com/ not launched. We set up a mailing list for people who want to be a “Friend of FanZanimal, Inc.”

Score: Only two out of the ten have launched. Wattzy and Mogotest. Congratulations to both and go visit and spend some time or money with both.

When Will These Web Sites  Launch Q3 2010

Now let’s take a look at the list for next quarter. Pay them a visit and sign up for their beta tests if you’re interested. These new creations need your support and input to find their way and make something you want to use.

http://reper.com/get_access.php

http://swarmplistic.com/

http://www.aislebuyer.com/

http://www.wingu.com/

http://www.giftily.com/

http://www.skinnytrip.com/

http://g2gconnect.com/

http://sparksense.com/splash/

http://www.bucketboo.com/

http://savinz.com/


August 11, 2010

TurningArt

talentGraphzgrzrlogo Record: TurningArt turningart logo

Funding Status: Seed

Founders Backgrounds: Bankfox

Investors: ?

Industry: Consumer Web

Offering Description: It’s like Netflix for Art Prints. Browse the work of our hand-selected artists and build a queue of artwork that you’d like to explore.


July 6, 2010

Abine

talentGraphz grzrlogo Record: Abine Abine logo

Funding Status: Seed

Founders Backgrounds: Datapower, LRN, Security Metrics

Investors: Self Funded?

Industry: Consumer Web Security

Offering Description: provides Internet privacy solutions for consumers. Abine’s products and services allow regular people to regain control over their personal information while continuing to browse, interact and shop online.


June 25, 2010

Do Anchor Companies Have an Effect on the Start-up Eco-system?

This article originally appeared as a guest post on Greenhorn Connect on Tue, 06/15/2010

Starting and growing companies that become or have the potential to become huge, is a goal of several initiatives and members of the entrepreneurial community in the Boston area. The reasoning behind this is the premise that huge companies provide a proving ground and talent resource that feeds the local start-up economy.

So let’s do a little research to observe this effect and see the companies that can be traced back to a local behemoth in our area.

Since EMC is the 800 pound gorilla in our woods, that should be a great place to start.

To view a dynamic and more legible EMC company graph use this link.

emc connected companies

As you can see, a company the size of EMC has a large graph of connected companies. This represents many acquisitions as well as large public companies from which they now recruit executives.

But what we are interested in are the companies that have spawned from EMC and where EMC executives have moved to the start-up companies.

Let’s start with some acquisitions we selected from the larger group. This list includes Equallogic which is the largest most recent liquidity event in the New England Area, at a purchase price of $1.5 Billion cash. Several sales and marketing executives were from EMC.

Archivas was formed by founders from EMC, Abuzz, AppIQ and Network Integrity and built a solution for fixed content archiving which was bought by Hitachi Data Systems within three years of inception.  Some of the founders have gone on to found Nasuni, a cloud based storage company.  iBrix was purchased by HP in 2008. Another cloud based storage company founded in 2009, TwinStrata has benefited from the addition of an  iBrix executive.

Each of the acquired companies had executives from EMC whose leadership contributed to the successful outcomes.  It is no surprise that these companies are in the storage market, the ‘bread and butter” and seminal business for EMC.

Mature start-ups are well represented with storage again a major sector but also moving into cloud computing and Rich Internet Applications.

The founder of  Nexaweb, building RIA software, was an architect from EMC, who has now gone on to found another company Yottaa, in the cloud services space.

Cloudswitch a Matrix company has technical leadership from an Architect/VP that used to be a Distinguished Engineer at EMC.

Sepaton is an interesting case. EMC executives still are part of the leadership team, but the original CEO from EMC was forced to exit due to a “non-compete” lawsuit. It turns out that EMC is not shy about suing companies here in Ma, as they also went after Nexaweb, but that suit was settled.

Several Series A VC investments with EMC connections represent the trends towards virtualization,  data management and grid computing.

The CEO of PeerApp, a grid compuing company,  started at EMC as a key developer of the  revolutionary storage platform that yielded as much as $6 Billion in annual revenues.The CEO of Certeon led the product development and marketing of streaming solutions at EMC after the company he founded, Bitcasting was acquired. The founder and President of Lattice Engines was director of business operations at EMC.

Lastly these seed round companies have roots within EMC.  Sadly both messageSling and Carespace are now defunct. Such is the nature of bootstrapped companies. The storage market is  very mature here in the Boston area.  It makes sense that companies founded by executives with significant domain experience can go straight to Series A VC investment without the need for a seed round.

Conclusion:

Storage is a mature and thriving sector in the Boston area. Along with EMC the  anchor company, there are many new companies and returning successful founders that perpetuate innovation and a thriving industry cluster which is now pushing the trends in cloud computing and virtualization.

Based upon this simple analysis, we can conclude that anchor companies have a significant effect on their geographic markets. While this example is not exhaustive and there may be many other downstream companies impacted by EMC, it is clear that the Boston area could benefit from several other large companies in other Industry Segments.

June 24, 2010

Social Design Meet hosts TestCase: Designing for Conversion

A new group; the Social Design Meet is starting up and TestCase is pleased to contribute at their first meeting. testcase logo

Both groups share the same goal of creating events that are not only great social/ networking gatherings, but also an event where you can leave knowing you learned something.

This third TestCase subject is Social Design for Conversion.

If you would like your design to be evaluated at the meetup, contact Kabir sdm@riotvine.com

It is intended for founders of social and consumer web properties.

the Social Design Meet goal is to foster a design oriented community of like minded individuals in the Boston area intent on building the next generation of great social apps. A community is the best way to spur innovation

If you agree that a focus on user experience is what will make the next web products great, then you should plan on attending.

Sign up here and BTW, as with all TestCase events, there will be free Beer and Pizza.

June 15, 2010

Sembled

Genotropegrzrlogo Record:  Sembled sembled logo

Funding Status: Seed

Founders Backgrounds: Great Hill Partners (Boston-based private equity firm).

Investors: Friends & Family / Founder

Industry: Consumer Web

Offering Description: Sembled.com LLC helps consumers identify the easiest “assembly requried” products and strives to reduce frustration and time required in assembling a product with detailed video and photo instructions and commentary.