A seemingly minor task, yes, but a big one for an out-of-towner. He posted to the Startup Nebraska Facebook group on Friday: “HELP!”
And help came from Straight Shot mentors Scott Bishop, Paul Jarrett and even the mayor of Papillion.
Networking. Help from those who know a little bit more about something than you, whether it’s building a business or finding a T-shirt shop in a jam.
It’s what Mark Hasebroock, who founded Dundee Venture Capital and Straight Shot, likes to see. Networking, learning and growing is what an accelerator is about.
“This ecoystem we’re building here… this startup community coming together to help make companies like these seven succeed and be a part of our community… it doesn’t stop tonight,” Hasebroock told the crowd of more than 450 at Aksarben Cinema. “It begins tomorrow. It begins with a phone call, a text, an intro. There is something all of you can do to keep these companies, to keep them energized, keep them here and help them succeed.
“I invite all of you to help these companies, because when you do that, you’ll get more out of it than they do.”
The Straight Shot accelerator began more than 90 days ago with companies from Omaha, Lincoln, Chicago and Portland, Ore.
Hasebroock said the teams were a train wreck on their very first day when he asked them to pitch their idea.
“You wouldn’t believe how far they came in 90 days,” he said.
In those 90 days they heard from more than 40 speakers, like MindMixer CEO Nick Bowden, who talked about scaling, Startup Genome CEO Shane Reiser, who talked about customer development and Kelly Hoey and Adrienne Graham, who talked about effective networking.
They developed their business models, learned from each other, met key partners, gained customers and practiced pitches to perfection.
It ended with Wednesday’s demo day, which was put back-to-back with NMotion’s to allow out-of-towners and investors to come in to see as many Nebraska companies as they could in two days.
The event was in Aksarben’s largest seat-capacity theater, which was packed with 450-plus people eating popcorn. More watched on a live stream.
The companies pitched in front of their slides on the movie screen and a panel of three judges: Ryan Fukushima from Lightbank, SPN CEO Regan Carrizales and Nick Bowden.
Each chose a company they would back.
Fukushima chose Viirt, Carrizales chose Borrow For Your Bump and Bowden chose Kitchin and SitStay.
Here are summaries of each pitch:
Team: Jill Lilledahl
Quick pitch: SitStay.com is an e-commerce site for dog parents who want a better life for their pets and to share their experience with others.
Traction: SitStay is revamping its website to become more customizable and user-focused to drive revenue. They’re also aiming for a niche market of service dogs, which is a $350 million niche within a $20 billion industry of dog supplies. They also plan on collaborating with trainers to amplify their reach through recommendations since they work with 10-50 dogs a year.
Notes: Lilledahl’s pitch pulled at the heartstrings with a story of a little girl with diabetes whose service dog can smell if she has high or low blood sugar. The family wants the dog to live as long as possible, so SitStay.com generates recommended products based on type of dog, breed and factors like anxiety, energy level and more. They chose to focuse on reaching the million service dogs in the U.S because more money is spent on them since they need more equipment, like vests.
Read more about SitStay on SPN.
Team: Randy Ellis and Karleton Thomas
Quick pitch: LocalLux is an ultra-local marketplace for shoppers to discover close to-home goods featuring on-demand delivery.
Traction: LocalLux has more than 30 boutiques on its site already and is working to get more partners. They’ve had a few sales already from California, Virginia, Nebraska and Illinois, totalling more than $850 in revenue in the few weeks they’ve been open. They get 15 percent of each transaction. Boutique clothing is a $25 billion industry.
Notes: LocalLux aims to help boutique owners who struggle to get their products online because they don’t have the time or knowledge on how to do it. Customer acquisition is the number one killer of boutiques. Now, LocalLux uploads their inventory and posts it online. For customers, it’s quick, gives them something unique without having to spend the time and energy seeking places out.
Team: Josh Davis
Hometown: Portland, Ore.
Quick pitch: Viirt was created to eliminate the inefficiencies between consumers, general contractors, sub-contractors and suppliers.
Traction: Viirt has buy-in from insurance companies that are excited about the product. Josh hopes to do 56,000 roofs by 2017.
Notes: It began when Davis, who was a roofer in KC, used satellites to measure his mother’s roof in Portland. He ended up saving her $4,000, 30 percent, by doing the measurement and buying the material himself and hiring a contractor to install it. The savings comes from wholesale direct pricing and using contractors for installation only. The service is 10 times faster than a typical contractor, Davis said.
Team: Mark Michuda
Quick pitch: Phone app that speed dials groups of numbers for sales while tracking results online. Make the most of your time by calling on the go.
Traction: More than 3,000 people have downloaded the app with 600 regular users in 14 countries. They also recently signed an agreement with a cell phone carrier to use the service. Prices range from $99-$495 a month depending on the features. Sales is a $46 billion market.
Notes: Call on the Go wants salespeople to make more money, quicker. Michuda says the sales process is broken because people print off spreadsheets, dial hundreds of leads, take notes, review activity and input data into a customer relationship management system. Call on the Go does all of that in one app. Competitors are usually limited auto-dial apps or complicated telemarketing systems.
Team: Krystal Stubbendeck
Quick pitch: Buy or rent maternity clothes from dresses to denim to work wear, rent maternity styles that fit your lifestyle and budget.
Traction: Already have orders that average $103 per purchase. The Bump Start Club, a Trunk Club-like custom box service, nets a 37 percent keep rate, meaning moms keep four out of ten items in the box. They also have repeat customers already. They’ve been featured in many pregnancy magazines and mommy blogs.
Notes: Soon-to-be moms often have a hard time spending money on clothes that they will wear a month or two and never wear again. And when they do commit to buying something, there aren’t great styles. Borrow for your Bump allows pregnant females to save time and still have great style. Read more about Borrow for your Bump in the Omaha World-Herald.
Quick pitch: Quest was founded as a way to bring expert care, consultation and advice to everyone, regardless of location or schedule. Each provider has been chosen by Quest and has passed our stringent review of his or her background.
Traction: Signed up 10 providers and they have 20 clients so far. The average client makes the provider about $450 a month. They hope to get repeat customers that conquered one challenge, like a half marathon, and want to take on another challenge, like a full marathon. Although the personal training, physical therapy and sports medicine market is $350 billion, they are aiming at the $28 billion teleservices niche.
Notes: There are often more personal trainers, physical therapists and other professionals than there are clients. Quest aims to get more people in their doors so they can make money. Providers often have large holes in their schedule where they aren’t making money, but can fill those holes with online meetings with clients through video conferencing. Both co-founders are trained sports physical therapists with decades of experience.
Team: Corey Anand
Quick pitch: Kitchin is a mobile digital kitchen. Snap grocery receipts, create a digital inventory and explore the best recipes using ingredients on hand.
Traction: Kitchin is fully implemented in two test grocery stores in Chicago and they’re also in talks with Target.
Notes: Anand got the idea when he was working for a busy TV producer who had kids, a full-time job and no time to think about what to make for dinner. She often resigned to take out but wanted to feed her family. She needed a solution that would be convenient, simple and smart for the busy cook.
Read more about the teams at Straight Shot’s blog.