Last night was StartupCampWaterloo and I made my first trip out to the Waterloo Acceleration Center. Having gone to a lot of events around Toronto the Waterloo Acceleration Center is awesome, with an open lobby area for presentations. I think there was about 80 people in attendance but it was still an intimate environment for the Q&A.
Stefanus Du Toit provided the first presentation as an overview of this experience with RapidMind. I haven’t heard of RapidMind before and seems they provide tools for rapid development of 3D environments. They’ve done work with the IBM cell processor and a variety other GPUs.
In keeping with the Barcamp theme, everyone that wanted to present needed to pitch the crowd with a 60s overview of the presentation. I think there were about 8 companies/groups that wanted to present and in the end 5 presentations went forward.
The presentations were:
SlashID by Ross Bennett
I’ve worked with Ross before and I’ve been involved with SlashID for awhile. For disclosure, I am also an investor in SlashID. I think the original plans was for a 15 min presentation and it ended up being 5 mins, with 10 min Q&A. Ross did a good overview of SlashID and I think the feedback from the crowd was great. Key improvements for the pitch would be to address the differences between SlashID and OpenID earlier, and place less emphasis on the revenue from users.
Tagiton.com by Adam Joncas
I really like the initial pitch from Adam, about the goals of Tagiton.com in terms of moving a lot of emal discussions out of email. When they demo’d their product though didn’t find the filtering options or the ability to follow conversations to be too great. I think Gmail probably provides better tools today. Tagiton also seemed to be trying to introduce a different definition of the term “Tag”. I think the key take away would be to really look a how they can improve the email flow without launching new browser windows and creating new terms around their “Tagging” engine.
Garageentrepreneurs.com by Natalie McNeil
Garage Entrepreneurs are planning to develop a social network to let entrepreneurs to connect. I found there assertion about competitive sites like Facebook and Linkedin to be very weak. David Crow has some great feedback when Garage Entrepreneurs suggested charging entrepreneurs for access to the network. I think the key takeway for Garage Entrepreneurs is to focus on how to create some unique value for entrepreneurs ( outside of Facebook, or other social networks ) and a better business model that’s not based on users paying.
The pitch for the SmartPatterns.com presentation was really weak but I thought they made up for it with your demo and discussion afterwards. The company is in the process of moving their software from a desktop package to an online service. They provide the ability to quickly create custom knitting patterns online. While knitting is probably a fairly small market there are a number of opportunities to grow the business. I think the key take away was to get the service online fast and think about opportunities to work expand beyond just the knitting patterns.
Ghoti Studios by Majid Mirza
I don’t think the Ghoti Studios pitch and presentation were in alignment. I was excited initially about the possibility of more efficiently with graphic designers. It wasn’t clear from the presentation how Ghoti Studios planned to make working with graphic designers easier. There are a number of online tools designed to make working with designers easier, like ConceptShare, Octopz, and Kuzimo. I wasn’t certain where Ghoti Studios planned to fit into this process. I think the key take away would be to define the business plan a bit more and try to include the various feedback/suggestions.
Austin Hill wrapped up the night with a presentation of his experiences and recommendations for startups. I thought some of this experiences were one sided, for example his experience with service businesses. I think a lot of business can self-fund through services . I did really like his line about “Code talks” when dealing with financing. I thought this was a great summary of why startups need to get a working prototype.
Overall it was a good line up of companies and I think the interaction with the crowd was great. Jesse and Simon did a great job of trying to get discussions going. Simon was one the best MC’s I’ve ever seen and he should definitely continue with the MC duties.