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Congratulations to Technori on its 1-year Anniversary last night! There have been twelve pitches to date with close to 60 different start-up presentations! Yowza! Things kicked off as usual with a sold out crowd, a great keynote, and five hungry start-ups ready to take over the world.

The keynote speech for August was Emerson Spartz, Founder of Spartz Media, who “is a world leader in using mass collaboration to make people happy.” The Spartz Media Network, including OMG Facts, GivesMeHope, and MuggleNet, receives 10 million visitors each month across a dozen websites, mobile sites, and apps.

Beware: what you are about to read will make you feel extremely inadequate.

At the age of 12, Emerson convinced his parents to allow him to drop out of school and home-school himself. Throughout this process he became “bored” and decided to create a website called MuggleNet.com – which soon became the #1 website in the world for Harry Potter enthusiasts. How did he accomplish this feat? “Grinding”.

Emerson did whatever he could to drive traffic to the site: blasting emails to thousands of potential users, getting in touch with anyone possible, and just spreading word about the site across all forms of relevant communication. Soon enough, MuggleNet had 50 million page views and Emerson started managing a team of 20 developers, designers, and others.

The site was obviously a huge success, but reached a whole new level after Emerson received a call one random morning. That call was from J.K. Rowling. She was so impressed by his work with MuggleNet that she invited him to Scotland to interview her for the 7th book release of Harry Potter. No big deal…

Throughout the rest of Emerson’s presentation we learned about the different techniques and experiences that helped propel his success to the next level.

The driving factor behind his quest for success was to change the world in a positive way. How was he going to do this? Well, it started by reading as many influential pieces of literature as he could get his hands on. He even got to a point where he would whiz through four books a day – he is a speed reader…surprised? The most influential books were biographies, where he picked up on the various patterns of successful behavior.

All this content gave him the groundwork to take the knowledge and apply it with his various factors of influence: intellectual capital, monetary capital, and social capital. An understanding of these factors of influence propelled him to create GivesMeHope, OMG Facts, Six Billion Secrets, and the list goes on.

Knowledge and influence alone didn’t make these sites the huge successes they became; success also came as a result of Emerson’s mind blowing insight into “virality”. At one point, I thought my head was going to explode listening to how fast and in-depth he talked about the importance of virality and the strategies behind this concept.

I encourage you to check out Spartz Media’s website to learn more about the company and its brands, as well as take a moment to read another article highlighting Emerson about his top tips for making something go viral.

Now, bring on the pitches. As always, here are the rules:

  • 5 start-ups
  • 5 minutes per team
  • 3 minutes Q&A with interaction from the audience

1.) travel720www.travel720.com

We all love to travel. A lot of people were fortunate enough to visit unique locations across the globe throughout those coveted college years, and it no doubt had a positive, lasting impression. However, there are plenty of people who never had the opportunity to fulfill one of their life long goals due to financial restrictions. Enter: travel720.

This startup has created a platform for users to overcome this road block. You create an online profile and can get started with three easy steps:

  • Create a Trip Fund – pick your destination of choice and set a fundraising goal.
  • Raise Money – encourage friends and family to commit funds for your trip.
  • Travel & Share – hopefully you were lucky enough to reach your goal and have begun your trip. Don’t forget to rock the social media waves and show everyone where you went.

travel720 has also included various challenges and gamification principles to make the experience more engaging and detailed for users and contributors. The company is set to launch next month, so make sure to show them some love; sign up to be notified about the release and follow them on Twitter.

2. Human Practicewww.humanpractice.com

Finding a doctor can be a complex and frustrating experience. Sure, you can rely on places like ZocDoc and Yelp to get reviews, but those come from complete strangers who might face completely different situations. We all feel the most comfortable with an important decision when advice comes from friends and family.

Human Practice has created an application that connects you with your social media network and gives you private recommendations, health tips, and even interviews from trusted doctors in your area. Worried about privacy? Don’t. Your search for advice is completely confidential. Your quest for information isn’t blasted around for everyone to see – you simply get to see the things that others in your network have voluntarily shared.

They are officially launching to the public on August 30th and are having a launch party! Be sure to follow them on Twitter at @humanpractice.

3. Every Last Morselwww.everylastmorsel.com

We got to hear from “Tall” Todd, the founder of Every Last Morsel, and his journey from a micro-farmer to tech entrepreneur. Todd’s vision is to revolutionize the way communities interact with local garden offerings. Why? Because local food tastes better, keeps profits within the community, and fosters a sustainable method of consumption.

Last year alone in Illinois, only 6% of food consumption came from in-state resources. Only 6%! And that’s in a state known for its farming capabilities. This clearly needs to change.

Every Last Morsel has built out a platform that gives small brands exposure, users the ability to find the goods they want, and growers the chance to create profiles, market their services, and interact with potential users. It’s pretty simple: claim your local space, track your progress, learn from others, share your crop, and contribute to building out your community.

The company recently received BOOST funding from the Delta Institute and is set to launch soon. Make sure to check out the company’s site for a product video and follow them on the tweet waves at @everylastmorsel.

4. Citizen Madewww.citizenmade.co

Citizen Made was created to take advantage of the demand for custom products, online shopping experiences, and branding opportunities. They created a software that partners up with brands across all levels and industries to create a platform for users to create products in real-time. Here is a quick “tour” of the experience:

  • Sell Custom Product Visually – Citizen Made’s software provides the visual of a product that customers can customize to their unique selections, equipped with various choices consumers can apply. Take, for example, a chair. There would be a visual of the chair in its simplest form and you can pick colors, fabrics, and patterns with the click of a button. Play around with all the options until you reach your desired end product.
  • Social Sharing – Once users create products they are proud of, they will want to share it with others to show off how awesome their custom products are. Citizen Made is integrated with social media platforms so you can easily share what you’ve created.
  • Affordably Yours – This company was created with everyone in mind. It doesn’t matter if you are shipping product out of your basement, or if you have large distribution centers spanning the globe. Citizen Made is fun for all.
  • Custom Sales, Seamlessly – The software plugs into all e-commerce platforms seamlessly and requires you to manage no additional channels.

Learn more about the types of products you can customize and check out a demo video on the site! You can read the company’s 140 character thoughts at @citizenmade.

5. Boomerangwww.rang.com

Here is a fun (and obvious) fact: friends and family exchange gifts. And often, gift givers get so lazy that they’ll just pick up a gift card ten minutes before a party or event. Of course, gift cards are notoriously devoid of any element of creativity or personalization. Still, the gift card industry was worth close to $100 billion in 2011!

This is where Boomerang comes in, creating an online platform to send friends and family personalized gifts tailored to their specific interests. Right now, you can access Boomerang via Facebook login, and you can send a gift to anyone who has a Facebook account- either for a special occasion or no particular reason at all. You always have the option of free and paid gifts, ranging from fresh cupcakes to fitness classes.

The process is extremely simple. Once you have picked your recipient and gift, click “send” and boom! The recipient will receive a mobile voucher and can redeem it at their earliest convenience. Boomerang is up and running – we dare you to send a gift today! Check them out on twitter at @boomerang.

Big thanks to everyone that came out to support the community for Technori Pitch this August. We hope to see you all in September!

Photography: Grant Legan and Dan Kelleghan

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