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On Tuesday evening, we kicked off April Technori Pitch with keynote Sarah Hatter, the Founder & CEO of CoSupport, a Chicago-based company that offers expert customer support training and help for all web and mobile apps.

Sarah kicked the evening off with an energy-filled presentation, sharing with the audience a lot of the big lessons she’s learned through her decade of business experience. Here were the top 5 (of many) pieces of advice:

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 1. Don’t take advice from people you know nothing about. You may think you know who people are based on what they tell you, what other people tell you about them, or what you read in the media. That doesn’t mean you really know them. Make sure you take advice only from people who have fulfilling and healthy personal lives that you admire and respect.

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2. Stop working so damn hard. Sarah warned, “If you have to come into work on a weekend, it’s because either your boss is an asshole, or you are an asshole.” The problem with being able to work wherever and whenever as an entrepreneur is that you never stop. But just like anyone else, you need rest. Do you want to be an employee who burns out because you drink too much Red Bull and never work out? Or do you want to gradually excel over time? If it’s the latter you want, then be good to your body. Don’t eat at your desk. Get a lot of sleep. Your mind and body will work a lot better.

When you actually start to take care of yourself, you will begin to listen to and trust your gut more often. Sarah said, “I think fear of making the wrong decisions—and actually making the wrong decisions—comes from not trusting your gut. Every time I’ve gone against my instincts, I have always lost. Every time I got into a bad relationship or a bad job, I knew I shouldn’t have been in it. You need to listen to yourself. You need to listen to that gut feeling.”

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3. Culture is a myth. The myth of having a great work culture is that your company pays for stuff like lunch and free dry cleaning every day. Sarah says, “That doesn’t mean you have a great culture, it just means you’re working more because you never leave.” Real culture is doing great work. Real culture is respecting one another in the workplace. It’s about being mature adults and handling stuff like normal people do. It’s about bringing your best to work every day and being passionate about what you do.

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4. Don’t be a dick. Sarah said, “I’m authentic, vulnerable, and transparent. There’s no need to be rude and dickish to people; nobody really wants to do business with people they hate.” She noted that a lot of entrepreneurs think they need to have some weird kind of “swag” to succeed in business. But, “You don’t need a swagger to sell shit.” Word.

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5. Coffee meetings are a waste of time. Stop taking random coffee meetings in the middle of your workday—it’s only serving to distract you. And, stop asking for intros and meetings to other entrepreneurs—especially the well-known ones. Instead, go build something so wonderful that people will WANT to know about and connect with you. In the end, that’s what really matters: the quality of the work you do and the relationships you build with people as a result.

After an inspiring keynote (which also included a lot of cuss words…just watch the video of Pitch if you’re curious), we moved on to the pitch portion of the evening. Five companies pitched; each had 5 minutes and a 3-minute Q&A with the audience afterward. First up was…

Social Crunch

The way we collect consumer research hasn’t changed that much. This startup is looking to change that.

SocialCrunch is the new way to unlock the most provocative human insights for brands and agencies. CEO Alex Griffiths said, “We ask questions that would make a marine blush.”

And he’s really not kidding. SocialCrunch will ask you questions like, “Do you want to sleep with one of your friends?,” or, “Have you ever stolen anything?” It’s surprisingly engaging—so much so that, on average, visitors will answer over 60 questions during their first visit alone. That’s crazy.

If you don’t believe how addicting this thing is, try it for yourself. You’re welcome.

Packback

Textbook prices are insane; anyone who went to college knows this. Packback is on a mission to change this problem. Many have tried before, but this business model is different and a bit more interesting than many of the other textbook-based startups out there.

So how does it work?

Students rent e-textbooks 24 hours per day, as needed—and buy the whole book a discount if the time comes when that makes more financial sense. Textbooks are an $8 billion industry, but $5 billion of those sales can be attributed to  the used books market. That’s a crazy market opportunity.

Another fun fact: The average student only opens their textbook 4 times a semester. So, Packback has created an interesting e-book solution given this statistic. In addition, the startup is hoping to capture a ton of invaluable data, like: how many pages in a textbook students are reading, what they’re highlighting, and if they’re interacting with professors and classmates about the content.

A very interesting idea, Packback will be piloting this coming fall.

Kriisa Research

Consistent and stable technology is challenging. Current sources of energy all have their problems, from batteries, to gasoline, to nuclear driven waste material.

Kriisa Research has developed a semiconductor device that can generate electrical current from ambient thermal energy. In other words, they can generate electricity from the temperature that is always around us. Some of the benefits of K-Chip devices: energy is always available, there is no recharging, and you never have to pay for gas.

What will this technology power? Pretty much everything. Seriously. It may sound too good to be true, but the founders argue that they had a 30-year start researching K-Chip technology.

So, what’s left to be done? More engineering! If you’re a talented engineer, Kriisa Research is looking for you. They are also looking for investors to raise a whopping $10 million to power this new technology.

Myendoshop

Have you ever given a friend a recommendation for a present, a new television, a great piece of furniture, etc? Have you ever thought to yourself, “I should be getting commission on this sale!”

If so, you’re in luck: Myendoshop is on a mission to fix that problem. This platform allows you to set up a digital store with all of your favorite products. Your friends can browse your shelves. If they buy something you use, you’ll get credit for it. Simple as that!

85% of all purchases have some form of word-of-mouth recommendations, so the idea behind this startup is that you should start getting credit (i.e. money) for the great recommendations you make.

Myendoshop has already has a great client base, including: eBay, Amazon, Walgreens, Nordstrom, and Warby Parker. The site also limits users to 30 items to maintain stickiness and ensure that people aren’t just throwing every item up on their profile pages. It’s built for engagement—so that you enjoy using it, and get paid for other people who buy things because you recommended them. Not a bad exchange.

WedSocial 

This app is redefining the wedding experience. WedSocial allows you to create and customize your very own app for your wedding. CEO Jake Molzhan tells us that it will be a place where guests can upload their photos of the event, the couple can post engagement photos, and you can easily share event logistics.

This app is a great way to keep your friends and family engaged as you’re getting married. It is equal parts photo-sharing tool, detailed calendar planner, and storytelling platform. If you’re getting married, check out WedSocial and improve your wedding planning experience (by a lot).

That was it for Technori Pitch this month! Hope you’ll join us for our next with in May.

Until then, happy building!

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