Last night we attended our first Technori Pitch, a monthly showcase where startups pitch their latest technologies to a crowd of 500 entrepreneurs, developers, designers, tech companies, investors and general tech enthusiasts. The fast paced structured event gives companies five minutes to demo their product and three minutes to answer moderated questions from the audience.
The event began with keynote speaker and restaurant innovator Nick Kokonas, the businessman behind Alinea, Next and The Aviary. Kokonas’ speech focused on the future and how technology will reinvent the restaurant industry. Formally an independent derivatives trader, Kokonas has succeeded in applying dynamic pricing to a nontraditional market with his restaurant Next.
He set up Next like an options market using a ticketing system to create a matrix of pricing with transparency: customers can see what is available and what has just sold. This eliminates cancellations and refunds. “You can charge for something traditional in a very non-traditional way. … None of this is at all revolutionary except that we did it for something that you don’t normally do it for,” Kokonas said.
With 1.1 million page views in the first hour of the site going live, Next has been a runaway success. In January they sold $3.5 million worth of season tickets in nine seconds. Kokonas is expanding the restaurant ticketing market: he is in the process of converting Alinea and one other Chicago restaurant to the ticket sales model as well as a restaurant in New York City next week. He predicts in the future that companies like Groupon and Amazon will start moving pricing simultaneously in both directions and begin looking not towards just discounting but to premiums as well.
Here’s a recap of the five startups that presented last night:
TempoDB: – Database service for storing and analyzing massive amounts of data
TempoDB kicked off the pitches for the night explaining their database service as one that stores and analyzes time-series data as a tool to manage what you measure. “We can only manage what we measure. The more that we can measure about our environment, our infrastructure or ourselves, the more that we can learn and ultimately improve our work,” said co-founder Justin DeLay.
Specifically built for time-series data, TempoDB offers a solution to monitor the infinite series of data that breaks databases. It also gives users tools to measure and learn about their world while providing monitoring, forecasting and real time change detection. The project is currently in beta and has already stored and analyzed over 6 billion data points, allowing companies to save resources, create opportunities, improve quality of products and services.
OpenAirplane: – Helping to “make pilot certificates more useful and making renting a plane as easy as renting a car.”
OpenAirplane founder Rod Rakic based his startup off two things: that “people value access more then they value ownership” and the world of aviation is stuck in the 1950’s. OpenAirplane strives to make renting an airplane as simple as renting a car, eliminating the current tedious plane rental process. The current process involves a local checkout confirmation test where licensed pilots must spend half a day and hundreds of dollars every time they want to rent a plane in a new city.
By increasing the frequency of the flight review check from 24 months to 12 months in your home city, OpenAirplane creates flying opportunity by eliminating friction. They hope to increase the value and ease of possessing a pilot’s license by offering a transparent and universal rental process. They have 2,500 pilots currently signed up and 100% industry support, including a rental discount for pilots who use OpenAirplane.
Resultly: – “A realtime social search engine”
Resultly is a search engine that wants to change the way results are consumed. They augment traditional search in favor of a time sensitive model that provides results quickly and accurately. By delivering results as they happen, not just what is already out there Resultly replaces the outdated 20-year-old search engine model of crawling, indexing and searching. Instead they use RSS feeds to seamlessly incorporate social networks, online auctions, daily deals and rapid news.
“It becomes really important to manage the data that we have now because we consume it in an expirational type fashion,” said Neil Schmidt before introducing founder Ilya Beyrak. Beyrak was inspired by his tendency to waste endless hours searching for an elusive online deal. After joking about hiring a personal assistant to scan sites for him he created Resultly. The search engine lets users add personal interests, input specifications on what they are looking for and create alerts so they never miss an important time-sensitive result.
KLUTCHclub: – “A journey through all things health, wellness, and fitness.”
A monthly subscription site that offers the latest and greatest products in health and wellness innovation, KLUTCHclub was inspired by founder Julie Bashkin’s confusion when trying to find products that would make eating healthy, nutritious food and exercising on-the-go more convenient. The monthly box provides over $50 worth of products focused on holistic health, fitness and wellness for only $16-$18 a month.
KLUTCHclub strives to be the source of all things good for the consumer. Unlike most other box subscription models, the company reveals its products online before shipment starts and there is no customer commitment. They launched in April and already have 6,000 members signed up. To increase featured companies ROI, KLUTCHclub offers exclusive members only online promotions.
PhilterIt: – “Your inbox is your life – simplify it, personalize it, visualize it.”
PhilterIt is a visual email interface that allows you to personalize your email inbox. Inspired by the icon-heavy smartphone interface, PhilterIt allows you to transform content that you invite into your mailbox into a manageable, visually oriented layout. Users are able to separate personal emails from brand emails, bringing brands they care about to the front and eliminating the stress of an overflowing inbox.
“In 2012, the average user will get 14,600 messages into his or her inbox and of that only 14% are from people,” explained Avi Levine. Thanks to statistics like this and our familiarity with icons due to smart phones, PhilterIt’s visual layout is a natural progression for email. The future of PhilterIt includes a business-oriented email organization model and a plan for monetization where brands will be promoted on the page where users choose their dashboard.