There were a few firsts at July’s Technori Pitch:
- Seth shed the classic blazer for a more casual look
- Over half of the audience were first time visitors
- Technori All Access was introduced (more details on that will come later)
Everything else kicked off in its consistent fashion with a great keynote speech from David Kalt – Former CEO of OptionsExpress and Owner of Chicago Music Exchange – and five great pitches from some of Chicago’s best entrepreneurs. This was one of the most entertaining pitches to date, with all the presenters shaking things up a bit with their personalities and sense of humor.
David started things off with a video highlighting a giveaway Chicago Music Exchange is putting on for a lucky someone to receive an item from the shop. The video played was great, check it out here- http://bit.ly/NlYZsx – David got kidnapped outside his own store, and was forced to watch burglars ransack the store picking out potential items for the contest. Tweet something awesome to @chicagomusicex for your name to be thrown into the hat!
Afterwards, we learned about David’s 3Ps to success: Passion, Profits, and Purpose. These were the guiding principles from his days as intern trying to produce the next Tom Petty record to founding OptionsExpress, and then finally when he landed as the owner of Chicago Music Exchange.
David was a Political Science major from University of Michigan, and was self-described as one of the most “anti-establishment” type of guys you could find. After school he followed his passion and became an intern at a music studio with the hopes of taking part in producing a great record. However, eighteen months went by with 100+ hour work weeks and he started to doubt whether this was the right path.
So, he started to learn to write code. It was C++, not Ruby or PHP like all the cool kids use now-a-days in the startup scene. This eventually led him to partnering up with some really talented individuals and building out the trading platform which became OptionsExpress. They had high hopes for the business, while the doubters didn’t hesitate to voice their opinions.
Those voices turned quiet pretty quick. Founded in 2000, OptionsExpress was already generating $2 million in revenue by January 2001, had 5,000 active accounts in 2002, and was at $50 million in revenue in 2003! Astonishing results for such a short period of time. David said one of the keys to their success was bootstrapping and lean methodologies, things that almost all startups try and incorporate into their environment.
What to do now? For David, it was time to get away from the stress, the meetings, and the earnings reports. This is what led him to become the owner of Chicago Music Exchange. One day he just walked in the store and said he wanted to buy it.
Now, the store is world renowned among great musical talent and general enthusiasts. You can catch Tom Petty, Billie Joe Armstrong, Johnny Depp, and even Johnny McEnroe walking around. Lollapalooza is sure to bring even more interesting people. Seeing his presentation and overall demeanor, you can tell David is one of the happiest positions of life. So, word to the wise: follow the 3Ps of success, and maybe you can someday sell a company for a $1 billion and own a hip music store in the best city in the world.
Now, here are the recaps for start-up pitches:
“We just want to make academic publishing better.” The team over at Scholastica believes that the academic publishing system is broken. Right now, scholars get content into journals. The journals then work with the publishers because they have resources and distribution channels for that content.
Thing is, the journals don’t need the publishers to act as a middleman anymore. Scholastica is changing that with their cloud based solution that completely automates the entire process. Learn more at https://scholasticahq.com/
Rune17 is utilizing Bluetooth low energy wireless sensors to build out a product that coordinates cloud based databases with communication systems. These sensors measure a variety of parameters: movement, acceleration, temperature, and time with the capability of wirelessly transmitting this information through personal area networks – PAN. This data can be delivered to a web based application, various social media channels, and mobile devices. Here are some examples of what you can get done with this technology:
Curious if Grandma is taking her medication on a daily basis? Incorporate Rune17’s sensor onto the pill bottle and know when Grandma is taking her medication.
As Dr. DJ Moran said “Worried your child just took a 30G hit to the dome” on the football field?” No worries, put a sensor onto the helmet.
Even Mark Cuban – Owner of Dallas Mavericks – is intrigued. He wants to put a sensor onto his kid’s toothbrushes to know how diligently they are brushing their teeth.
Learn more at http://www.rune17.com/
If you have ever searched for an apartment, you know the process is usually a headache. You see great pictures of a place on Craigslist only to get there and see it is something completely different. The location listed for the unit is actually on the complete opposite side of town. List goes on.
It isn’t that their aren’t other good channels to utilize for an apartment search, it is that incorporating a more social experience with recommendations from friends in social media circles provides much more value.
ReferBoost has created an application that works directly with Property Management firms to create incentives for current residents to write reviews on the location.
Enjoy where you live? Want a free Starbucks gift card? Write a quick review on your unit, easy as that. There has already been 10,000 shares and the site is now open to all the public. Check out http://referboost.com/ for more information.
Swapidy is a simple, safe, and secure online trading marketplace. Here is how it works: sign up, search the marketplace, accept and negotiate offers. Seamless. Users become “traders” and browse the site to find items they want, and offer up trades for that item. For example, have an Android smartphone and want an iPhone? Find someone posting an iPhone for trade and extend the offer. Worried your item is more valuable than what you are trading for? It’s all good, there is a digital currency system to compensate for those scenarios.
Once a trade is completed the items will be shipped directly to Swapidy for verification that the advertised product is indeed in the proper condition and maintains its functionality.
Categories contain books, cell phones, gift cards, and video games and consoles. Learn more about Swapidy’s marketplace here: https://swapidy.com/
Uncorkd is an iPad application that brings you an electronic version of a restaurant’s wine offerings right to the table. The software was created to increase wine sales, enhance customer experience, simplify wine management, and offer fully customizable and configurable options.
You can browse through the wine by types and categories, and even do a full search for certain options. Nice part about Uncorkd is that you don’t need an internet connection to use the application. No need to worry about spotty Wi-Fi to ruin the experience.
Uncorkd also provides branded menus that are tailored your specific restaurant to provide options for featured wines and food pairing recommendations. There are already 35 active customers in the restaurant, hotel, and casino verticals, with more to follow. See what else Uncorkd has to offer at http://uncorkd.biz/
Lastly and sadly, Seth announced Technori co-founder Val Chulamorkodt will say good bye to Chicago for San Francisco.
Described by Seth as the glue that holds the Technori family together, Val’s energy and welcoming, inclusive approach to leadership will be missed by all.