This post gives a brief description and some comments on what was a very interesting and exciting launch event for the Entrepreneurship and Learning SIG of Silicon Vikings, which took place on May 1 in Silicon Valley (you can see the event description here: http://bit.ly/JcoCNE). The event was a joint initiative with Seed Forum International.
Given my own interest and work on 3D virtual environments, I was a bit disappointed that Setred—www.setred.com, a company with a 3D screen technology—was unable to come as planned, but the five companies that did make the trip did a very nice job in presenting their companies and products/services to the nearly 70 people who attended (a capacity crowd at SNR Denton’s Silicon Valley facility). We were also very fortunate in having a highly qualified panel of judges—Max Shapiro (both moderator and judge) of PeopleConnect, Jonathan Baer of Threshold Ventures, Catherine Chiu of Opero Partners, and Anix Uzzaman of Fenox VC—that gave excellent and very constructive feedback and critique. See also the photos from the event.
Here are a few comments and observations on each of the presentations by each of the 5 companies:
- Norsync—www.norsync.com. The company addresses a pain that many enterprises are now facing as more and more of their employees have a variety of mobile devices and therefore need to synchronize their corporate databases across a growing diversity of devices. Norsync has a number of patents that they feel will give them a market advantage and they claim to enable companies up to 75% cost savings. We were told they are in discussions with large Silicon Valley tech companies, to which Jon Baer commented: Dancing with elephants like SAP, IBM, Oracle, etc may be great but it also means you can easily be crushed, so watch out! The panel also felt that more clarity in who the primary customers were that Norsync would serve would have helped.
- Trianglo—www.trianglo.com. I think most of the audience felt the company offers a very interesting and unique approach to serving the B2B furniture market (and primarily targeting designers/decorators that target enterprises). The company sees itself as representing “Lego+Amazon+IKEA” for the business furniture market. Their business model is “on-demand production,” selling modules and working with a range of partners. The panel liked what Trianglo is doing but they felt more clarity on the primary customers and profiles of these key customers would have made the presentation even better. Use of more visuals to demonstrate what the company offers to specific customer would have helped to demonstrate the value prop.
- Neckcare—www.neckcare.com. This company had some great visuals early in the presentations that clearly demonstrated how the product could be used to measure neck injuries and help users with recovery from neck injuries, and how portable technology like iPhones could be used. However, more clarity in target customer and customer segments, and issues around clinics versus individuals—and payment issues (typically a complex issues in US health care system with lots of different players involved)—were raised. But the potential addressable market could be very large, as the number of customers could be very large.
- Synaptic—synaptic.no. According to the presenter, the company sees itself as an “enabler of the Internet of things” (where machines talk to machines; with billions of devices connecting and real-time communication and data flowing back and forth), and as providing a backbone infrastructure for the cloud. It could also be seen as providing an operating system for the Semantic Web—and has worked with a number of vertical markets in Norway, including oil and gas. The panel seemed to be quite impressed by what Synaptic is trying to do, and according to Cathy Chiu they seem visionary and brilliant in what they are trying to do, and this could be huge, and she therefore recommended they try to raise a significant amount of money so they can solve the big problem they are pursuing.
- Fair Tading Technology—www.fairtradingtech.com. The problem the company’s team (a very seasoned and experienced group) is tackling is one where today’s traders and brokers in the huge forex markets (where $4 trillions—yes, TRILLIONS—are traded daily—more information on this market is available here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_exchange_market) deal with a variety of proprietary platforms that act as disconnected islands. The company’s technology will connect the various trading platforms in use today and in the process they feel they can provide significant value to the users (traders and brokers) and charge a significant price that still will be small compared to the benefits the users will gain. The panel members felt disadvantaged by not understanding the complexities of the forex markets and suggested that more attention should be given to simplifying the presentation, perhaps through the use of graphics (as done by Neckcare) that would simplify the processes and relationships involved.