Last night’s VatorSplash San Francisco drew another enviable crowd of web entrepreneurs and investors who flocked to the city’s Café du Nord to mingle with industry insiders and listen to ten startup pitches that may usher in things to come for the industry.
Hosted by Vator.tv, the competition yeilds large numbers of applicants, ten of which are selected by judges for three minute pitches onstage. Crowd-sourcing and mobile payment solutions once again flexed their muscle at the latest event but it was a laptop theft prevention and recovery system that took home the Splash Award.
Colorado-based FrontDoorSoftware wowed the panel of VC judges from Charles River Ventures, AOL Ventures and others with its unique approach to laptop theft. Founder and CEO Carrie Hafeman drew from her extensive experience in the computer security and burglar alarm industries to devise a service that prevents, protects and recovers stolen laptops.
Already offered for a slew of operating systems and utilized in several major universities, the startup is seeking additional funding to bring the service to tablets while scaling it to all new laptops on the market. Doing just that may not be far off for Hafeman and crew- among the prizes they took home is a one-on-one session with Javelin Venture Partners.
BuildingLayer, a crowd-sourced indoor mapping system, took home the People’s Choice Award. With fierce competition in the space from some big and small dogs alike, the judges were curious as to how the startup planned on distinguishing itself.
“The competition can’t scale up,” co-founder and CEO Nick Such told the panel candidly. Mentored by East Coast incubator Beta Spring, the fresh-faced BuildingLayer crew may have only just received their college diplomas but their savvy attention to market details didn’t escape the audience.
With no licensing issues to circumnavigate and a clear market demand for indoor mapping systems, Such believes his startup may be the right acquisition target for the likes of Google- if they can scale in time to beat out the competition. Vator founder Bambi Francisco summed it up best when she wrote this morning, “Kudos to the team, and CEO Nick Such for being a solid presenter.”
Keynotes by CBS Interactive President Jim Lanzone and vacation rental marketplace HomeAway co-founder Brian Sharples added insight for entrepreneurs in the audience.
“Leading companies always have the simplest models,” Sharples said of HomeAway’s decision to go with an annual listing fee despite the traditional hospitality percentage model. He also spoke of HomeAways prolific acquisition strategy in its quest for longevitig, citing its purchase of competitior VRBO among 30 others. HomeAway’s IPO has proven successful in just three months (AWAY, Nasdaq) and has strong historical cash flow since its 2005 inception.
Before the audience descended downstairs to enjoy music courtesy of Silicon Valley notables like Tim Chang (Mayfield Fund) and Raj Kapoor (Snapfish co-founder), August Capital’s David Hornik moonlighted for a new addition to the Vator Splash lineup: Late Night with David Hornik.
Talking secondary markets with Josh Felser (Freestyle Capital), drumming with Google Venture’s Joe Kraus, a Top Ten List from Alex Rosen (IDG Ventures) and cologne with aficionado Eghosa Omoigui (EchoVC), the panel enjoyed many laughs and capped another great event.
Studill- a collegiate text book exchange marketplace
Capseo- Crowd sourced website analytics
MindGames- Online sporting trivia games
BuildingLayer- Crowd sourced indoor mapping
Nooch- Peer to peer mobile payments
Social Annex- Monetizing eCommerce sites
FrontDoorSoftware- Laptop theft protection and recovery system
Moeo- Real time mobile gaming
Bilneur- Crowdsourced rental marketplace for business to business needs
Froomz- Online crowdsourced venue marketplace/exchange