2016 Venture Atlanta Presenting Companies

Venture Atlanta 2016 is right around the corner and there are a number of excellent presenting companies. Every year, Venture Atlanta is the largest gathering of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in the Southeast. This year, the venue was changed from the world’s largest aquarium to the new College Football Hall of Fame.

Here are the Early Stage companies:

  • ChronicCareIQ converts patient smart phones into powerful monitoring devices that enable doctors, hospitals, and health systems to: 1. Provide better and more timely care to chronic and fragile patients 2. Capitalize on quality based federal payment reforms 3. Lower healthcare costs overall by reducing the frequency that chronic and fragile patients require hospitalization or Emergency intervention.
  • Cognosos provides sensing as a service using low cost, battery powered sensors to provide our customers with actionable intelligence. Our patented wireless technology and cloud-based wireless platform allows us to provide the coverage of cellular networks with sensors that can operate for 5 years on internal batteries. We serve a diverse set of applications including asset track- ing, waste management, smart parking, energy management and agriculture.
  • Cypress.io enables developers to write and run automated tests that help pinpoint code failures in real-time. As a result, developers can write, debug, edit, and test code at the same time, ultimately producing a more robust and reliable product in less time.
  • DDM Systems makes the world’s most advanced ceramic and metal 3D printers. The company sells it’s 3D printers for additive manufacturing (AM), finished and repaired parts, and consumable printer supplies to global firms involved in the casting, deployment and repair of high-value parts.
  • Gro is the leading mobile-first account opening and loan origination solution. Gro customers have cut their abandonment rate in half, from 80% to to 34%. Gro provides both self-service and employee-assisted branch solutions. Gro also provides the necessary integrations into core banking systems and leading third-party ID verification services like TransUnion, Experian, and FIS Qualifile. Gro has 27 customers and has been self-funded by our veteran fintech executive team.
  • Haste optimizes Internet connections for people engaged in live, interactive experiences. Haste’s initial market sector and focus is competitive online gaming (Esports), with a longer term strategy to build a platform that supports any real-time application over the Internet.
  • Hirewire is a hiring marketplace for the service industry. Job seekers and employers can view profile pictures, job history, video interviews, and chat within the app. Our machine learning algorithm matches both parties based on their preferences, location, and behavior.
  • MyLumper – Each day over 140 million dollars exchanges hands between shippers and loading/unloading companies, using the current inefficient, fraudulent and antiquated systems of payment: Cash or Check. We offer the Freight Trucking & Freight Handling (lumper) industries a real-time direct payment platform with Shippers, Carriers, 3PL’s and Truckers. Through our mobile and web-deployed technology; we enable their trading partners to issue Lumper Fee payments in a more convenient, efficient and secure manner.
  • Quest Renewables designs and delivers purpose-built solar canopy racking solutions for Developers that need to place solar on commercial parking landscapes (carparks, parking lots, parking decks). Due to its 60-foot long span and on-ground assembly, The QuadPod Canopy racking system delivers the highest density of solar (kW/sq. ft) for commercial parking landscapes, which allows our customers to achieve the greatest ROI available within the market.
  • RaceIQ is a software engineering firm focused on developing automotive security, performance and diagnostic solutions. Based in Atlanta, GA RaceIQ Engineering is committed to supporting OE automakers and their tier 1 suppliers with innovative solutions and services designed to support the future of the automotive market.
  • RightPatient is a SaaS-based photo, biometric data, and timestamp repository that improves billing, data integrity, security, and safety by accurately recognizing patients from various end points throughout the healthcare ecosystem. RightPatient has already been installed in health systems that represent over 250 hospitals and 38 million annual patient visits, with customers such as HCA, OhioHealth, Novant Health, and Baptist Health South Florida. The platform seamlessly integrates with Epic and other EHR systems.
  • Sequr is breaking the tradeoff between security and convenience that has defined the access control industry for decades. Our combination of enterprise level security, beautiful management portal and limitless scalability means that our customers can access the security and features normally reserved for the Fortune 500 at an affordable price. Even more, Sequr turns everyone’s phones into their access card. No more retractable badges, no more getting locked out of the office. Welcome to Sequr.
  • Sifted is an experiential lunch provider for destination workplaces like Yik Yak, Warby Parker, Eventbrite + Lyft that see talent as a competitive advantage and use our lunch programs to treat their team, build loyalty and inspire authentic connections.
  • Storj is a developer tool for object storage using a P2P network that serves as a sharing economy marketplace between people that provide storage capacity to the network, “farmers”, and developers that store data on the network, “renters”.
  • Wellview Health is on a mission to simplify healthcare. Our proprietary, consumer-centric, approach to population health management results in industry leading engagement. We understand a consumer’s health insurance coverage and their available health services, becoming their trusted “one-stop” for all things health.

Here are the Venture Spotlight companies:

  • Ally Commerce is a turnkey software + services solution for branded manufacturers selling direct-to-consumer online. Ally is multi-channel, including marketplaces and branded websites. We are a true turnkey solution. Our services include ERP software, web development, marketing, customer service, payments, and fulfillment.
  • Bellhops is the largest and fastest growing tech-enabled platform for moving services, serving 50+ U.S. cities. We are transforming the industry with a new breed of moving services that are accessible for everyone; including price conscious do-it-yourselfers and those who desire a simpler, affordable & trustworthy alternative to traditional movers.
  • CAR360 specializes in 3D computer vision technologies. The team, including PHD researchers, have created the CAR360 app to revolutionizes 360-degree vehicle capture. Using only a smartphone, users can quickly and easily capture interactive 360° views of any vehicle with a single center of rotation, a consistent scale, and a perfectly smooth rotation. The CAR360 technology is currently being licensed worldwide by top tier automotive companies to help them showcase their vehicle or to perform detailed inspections.
  • Clockwise.MD provides online self-scheduling and queue management solutions for healthcare organizations, helping providers to manage their patients’ experience of waiting for care. On average, Clockwise.MD customers experience wait times under 15 minutes, cut lobby wait times for online schedulers by 40%, and see a 10x ROI on their investment. To date, more than ten million patients have used Clockwise.MD to skip the lobby wait.
  • ControlScan is a Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP) that delivers best-of-breed, cloud services to mid-market customers, directly addressing their struggle to build and maintain a strong security posture in the face of mounting cyber-attacks. We leverage deep expertise in compliance frameworks like PCI and HIPAA as a starting point for building a layered defense, working with over 1.5 million customers to predict, prevent, and detect attacks on their IT infrastructure.
  • Deep Fiber Solutions offers a patented technology and service for easily upgrading a cable operator’s legacy coax network to fiber optics by removing the dielectric and center conductor core. The remaining aluminum shield is cleaned and then used as a conduit or micro-duct for installing fiber optic cable. This is at a substantially lower cost than traditional boring and trenching, is completed in a fraction of the time, and avoids impacts to customer landscaping, lawns, and other utilities including water and power.
  • FINSYNC is a fully integrated financial management platform that helps small to mid-size businesses by bringing all finances in sync. Businesses track time and expenses, streamline invoicing, pay bills, process payroll, manage projects, automate accounting, and forecast cash flow in a paperless environment. All of these features working together in the cloud eliminate the need for numerous back-office applications and help businesses decrease expenses, increase efficiency, and leverage real-time analytics.
  • GROUNDFLOOR is the first and only real estate lending marketplace qualified by the SEC for participation by both accredited and non-accredited investors. Our loans provide a faster, cheaper and more flexible source of capital to “fix-and-flip” renovators and builders. Refreshingly different from a REIT, thousands of self-directed investors build portfolios composed of the fractional loan participation interests they choose, backed by real collateral, starting at a $10 unit price.
  • Inked – We monetize the intrinsic value of social media influencers by combining their audience with our infrastructure and delivering relevant custom products to their followers. Influencers tell their followers to go to “their site” and buy products “they designed”. We sell those products to the customers and pass back a royalty to the influencer (~10%). We price products so that our GM including royalty and shipping is ~50%. Our CAC is ~$20 with a LTV of $450.
  • mLevel is a SAAS microlearning solution that produces more effective learning outcomes by improving knowledge retention and skill application. Our no-code, mobile first platform enables companies and educators to engage learners via highly interactive activities such as games, videos, flashcards on any device anywhere while measuring knowledge gaps in near real-time. Today we service over 50 clients including 14 of the Fortune 100 and have recently been named Microsoft’s Education Partner of the Year.
  • Nuvizz is an enterprise mobile SaaS solutions for logistics and transporatation verticals
  • PlayOn delivers live and on-demand video streams of high school sports to fans whenever and wherever they want. It is commonly referred to as the “Netflix of high school sports”. PlayOn is one of the largest direct-to-consumer sports media enterprises in the nation, and is the clear market leader in the high school sports vertical. PlayOn recently announced that it is expanding its products and services by launching a partnership for digital ticketing in the high school market.
  • PureWRX is a certified pre-owned platform for IT hardware manufacturers
  • Rented.com helps vacation homeowners and residential real estate investors find the best management solution for their homes. With an innovative deal structure and the world’s largest network of property managers competing to offer maximum guaranteed income, Rented.com currently serves 6 continents, over 60 countries, 42 states, and hundreds of cities.
  • SaaSOptics is a cloud-based, complete B2B subscription management platform that enables early stage to enterprise subscription businesses the ability to eliminate their dependency on spreadsheets and streamline their financial operations, reporting and performance metrics. Unlike most subscription management providers, SaaSOptics is easy to use, very affordable and takes weeks to implement. SaaSOptics serves over 250 customers billing an aggregate $1.2B+ using our platform.
  • Terminus enables B2B marketers to target best fit accounts, engage decision-makes on their terms, and accelerate marketing and sales pipeline velocity at scale with best-in-class customer service.
  • Known as the Uber of Inspections, WeGoLook is an on-demand, nationwide field services and inspection platform that utilizes mobile technology and 30,000+ ‘Lookers’ (agents) who are dispatched on behalf of enterprise clients and consumers to capture asset data and perform custom tasks. To learn more on how WeGoLook can extend your enterprise, visit wegolook.com.

Congratulations to the all the 2016 Venture Atlanta presenting companies.

The Importance of Leadership

With all the talk in the news lately about presidential candidates, it’s a good time to reflect on leadership and what it means to be a leader. Here are nine posts on leadership:

  1. John Maxwell’s Five Levels of Leadership
  2. Leadership Book Review: The Secret
  3. Leadership is Not Speaking Over Others
  4. Repetition is Key in Leadership
  5. 2 Action Items Going from Doer to Leader
  6. Leadership Development Questions from The Secret
  7. Great Leaders Simplify Complexity
  8. Consensus or Leader-Led Decision Making in Startups
  9. The Four Essential Competencies of a Leader

From Warren Bennis, here are the four essential competencies of a leader:

  • Leaders are able to engage others by creating shared meaning
  • All authentic leaders have a distinctive voice
  • All true leaders have integrity
  • The most important competency is adaptive capacity — this is what allows leaders to respond quickly and intelligently to relentless change

What else? What kind of leader are you?

CEO and COO Roles in a Startup

One of the questions I’ve heard several times over the years is how we divided responsibilities between CEO and COO at Pardot. We tried several different approaches over the years before settling into a routine that felt right for our size and stage. Here’s how we divided things:

Some startups have an approach where the COO manages the functional areas and then reports to the CEO, but I’ve found this divide-and-conquer approach to be more common. Every startup is different, so it’s important to figure out what works best for your organization.

What else? What are some more thoughts on the CEO and COO roles in a startup?

The Importance of Customer Success

At Pardot, one of the areas where we really excelled was customer success. Back then, we referred to customer success as client advocacy, but the idea was the same: proactively help our customers have a great experience. Customer success is one of the most important functions, yet not as well understood as other functions.

Here are a few thoughts on customer success:

  • Implement a customer success platform to ensure consistent and efficient customer interaction as well as customer analytics (Need a product? Check out Trustfuel)
  • Develop a cadence around on-boarding, regular outreach, and renewal period
  • Build a pipeline for the customer success team through sales development reps that are a great culture fit but choose not to go in sales as well as support reps that want to proactively help customers
  • Decide who’s going to handle up-selling and cross-selling as it’s not usually the same skill set as a customer success manager
  • Scale the customer success team as the number of customers grows (depending on the type of customer, one benchmark is one customer success manager (CSM) for every $1 million in annual recurring revenue)

Remember that with Software-as-a-Service, the “service” is just as important as the “software.” Customer success is critically important.

What else? What are some more thoughts on the importance of customer success?

2016 TechStars Atlanta

Last night I had the opportunity to hear the 10 2016 TechStars Atlanta startups give their mid-program pitches. With only 39 days left (90 days total), the program is going by fast and the teams are making great progress. Here’s the class of 10 startups:

  • Bark Technologies (Savannah, GA): Bark protects children by detecting messages that contain cyberbullying, sexting and signs of depression or suicidal thoughts using NLP and machine learning techniques to maintain a child’s privacy and preventing parents from having to spend hours reading their activity.
  • Drizzle (Los Angeles, CA): Drizzle gives website owners an incredibly easy way to let their visitors pay for premium content. You can choose to charge a-la-carte for your content, or offer your visitors a subscription to access all of your content.
  • Fitspot (Los Angeles, CA): Trying to cram a workout into your busy schedule? Fitspot lets you book one-on-one sessions with certified fitness trainers when and where you want. Plan ahead – or start in as little as 30 minutes.
  • Joonko (Tel Aviv, Israel): Identify and solve gender bias in your workplace, as it happens!
  • LaaSer (Atlanta, GA): Thousands of lives are lost each year due to incorrect location information being sent to 911 operators over existing mobile phone network technology. Calls are often routed to the wrong jurisdiction, address and latitude and longitude information are often wrong or not provided at all, and people lose their lives or suffer more than they had to as a result. Our company and our products were created for the sole purpose of solving this problem.
  • Preesale (Brussels, Belgium): Multiply your sales channels by increasing your tickets sales on Facebook. Easily connect your Facebook app to your Facebook page, create your tickets in less than 5 minutes and sell to targeted customers, and promote your events on Facebook – the best platform to target your attendees.
  • Real Meal Delivery (Atlanta, GA): Skip the stress of meal planning and grocery shopping! Fresh, made-from-scratch meals are prepared daily by our chef. Just order by 4PM and let your family enjoy the hot, fresh food delivered to your door.
  • Sequr (Atlanta, GA): Sequr provides modern access control and visitor management for commercial buildings and multi-family communities (use your phone as the access key; no more access cards).
  • Splitty (Tel Aviv, Israel): Split your way to a better hotel deal! Choose your destination and dates, and Splitty’s “split and match” technology combines different reservation types to find the cheapest hotel stays for the dates that you want to travel.
  • UCIC (Waterloo, Canada): Ask and see live photo or video from anywhere in the world, right now.

Want to see the finale? Attend the free TechStars Demo Day November 1st from 5 – 7pm.

The Startup’s Arch Enemy

Earlier today I was talking to an entrepreneur and we were debating the value of having an arch enemy in a startup (that is, another startup that’s the main competition and deeply disliked). In the college sports world, Duke and Carolina are arch enemies, resulting in both schools raising the quality of their game and level of competition (both schools have 5 national titles).

Here are a few thoughts on having an arch enemy in a startup:

  • Having an arch enemy is a good thing as that means someone else believes strongly in the same market (competition is important as it helps validate the market)
  • Remember to stay close to the customer and don’t get caught up in a feature arms-race with the arch enemy
  • Build a program where you celebrate victories over the arch enemy in head-to-head deals (at Pardot, we gave out kill stickers, like football players have on their helmets, every time a sales rep won a head-to-head deal, to be displayed at their desk)
  • Don’t make an arch enemy just to say you have one (it should be your main competitor that you see in a meaningful percentage of competitive opportunities)
  • If you don’t have an arch enemy, that might mean you’re too early to the market, or aren’t getting in front of enough prospects

Competition is healthy. An arch enemy can be healthy, but don’t lose sight of the most important thing: the customer.

What else? What are some more thoughts on an arch enemy of a startup?

Agile vs. Burndown Software Development

Matt Bilotti has a great post titled How We Build Products at Drift. The crux of the article is that there’s a new, and better, way to do software development: burndown. Today, in the startup world, agile is the most common software development methodology. Only, it’s centered around the two week sprint, and the reality is that the customer feedback loop is much faster than two weeks.

Here’s the breakdown on agile vs. burndown from the post:

  • Measure of success
    • Agile – Thoroughness of story, agile points and velocity
    • Burndown – End user feature adoption & retention
  • Means of determining prioritization
    • Agile – Product backlogs and sprint planning
    • Burndown – End user validated design mockups and prototypes.
  • Speed
    • Agile – Story-based sprints (weeks)
    • Burndown – Micro-sprints (days)
  • Release focus
    • Agile – Multiple features grouped into a single release version
    • Burndown – A single version of a single feature per release
  • Flexibility
    • Agile – 2-week sprints are planned, executed & generally inflexible once agreed upon
    • Burndown – Every day priorities change and so do the current and upcoming sprints

Feel like the agile software development methodology isn’t quite right for your team? Consider trying out some of these burndown concepts.

What else? What are some more thoughts on agile vs. burndown methodologies?