Wednesday, November 15, 2006

STIRR Founder Mixer 1.8

I attended the STIRR Founder Mixer 1.8 tonight in Palo Alto. Charles River Ventures sponsored the event and introduced their QuickStart program to the packed house. Then, the four invited companies got to present a 60-second elevator pitch about their business, and answer a question or two from the host. All the presenters did an excellent job.

For my part, I was attending as an "Advisor Capitalist" -- someone who invests in an early stage company only if he/she feels that they can actually add value to the company by working with the founders directly. That value can come in the form of fund raising assistance, business planning, technology review, architectural considerations, partnering strategy, pricing analysis, competition, corporate structuring, or organizational plan/issues.

My reactions on the presenting companies below...

Frucall allows you to call 1-888-DO-FRUCALL on your mobile phone while you are shopping to find out the best online price for an item. You enter the barcode number of the item of interest, listen to the response, choose to buy from Frucall immediately, get product information verbally, or bookmark the item for later review from your PC. I see where they are going, but I don't think that consumers want to buy items from their mobile phone for mail-order delivery while in a retail store shopping for an instant gratification purchase. Perhaps that's just me. I tried the service with the bar code from my iLife '06 package, but couldn't get a match. Also, it's hard for people to know which numbers constitute the whole bar code. And, the ad at the beginning was pretty long. This might be easier with an SMS message of the bar code...

Kongregate is a casual games site that allows you to play (Flash-only?) games online for bragging rights. I love the market. Couldn't try the service, as it is not open for use quite yet. They describe themselves as "online hub for players and game developers to meet up, play games, and operate together as a community". I also like the fact that "Kongregate shares microtransaction and advertising revenue with contributing developers, who retain the full rights to their games." Well done. The challenge, of course, is to build the player and developer user base concurrently.

Krugle is the place you go to find code and find answers. Krugle is a well-funded startup with funding from folks like Emergence Capital Partners, Omidyar Networks, First Round Capital,
and Rustic Canyon Partners. Krugle also has a seasoned CEO on board in Steve Larsen. I'm a big fan of Krugle. I wrote CVS and contributed it to the Open Source community back in 1989, so I love any tool that helps developers build great software more efficiently. Krugle does that.

What Expedia is for Hotels, Liftopia is for Ski Resorts. OK. Full disclosure. I did live in Colorado for 16 years and I am a snow boarder. But, that's not why I like Liftopia. I think these guys are onto an under-served market. Their CEO really seems to "get it". Their site is nicely done. Unfortunately, they don't have too many resorts on board yet, but some good, hard business development work will get them there. I expect to see some good things from these guys.

All in all, a very enjoyable STIRR event. Just a bit too loud.

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