If it’s one thing we learned about OpenTable founder Chuck Templeton during his keynote Technori Pitch speech, it was that he’s a family man.
Templeton confided to the 500-plus tech-enthused crowd that thinking about the future of his first daughter inspired resource-sharing platform OhSoWe. And his home-sick Chicagoan wife can be attributed to why he founded startup accelerator The Impact Engine here as well—interestingly, his wife also helped him come up with reservation site, OpenTable.
But Templeton mostly challenged the crowd of entrepreneurs, investors and techies to think of how their ideas and business can change the world and stand for something in the midst of climate change, straining natural resources, aging infrastructure and the like.
“We have to figure out some new ways to think about business,” Templeton said, lamenting our environmental responsibilities. “And big challenges equal big opportunities.”
For startups seeking an accelerator program, The Impact Engine hopes to empower such ventures that have positive environmental or social impacts, Templeton said. He used examples of socially conscious companies like Lettuce Entertain You and Patagonia as well as his venture, OhSoWe, described as “a business that doesn’t sell anything,” and resource for neighbors to share items and skills with each other, curbing a wasteful and oversaturated consumption culture.
But Templeton wasn’t the only one to take the stage of course, the sold out event was primed for startup pitches after all. Here’s who took the stage for Technori’s June Pitch.
For that novice or pro golfer looking to improve their swing, mobile app-enabled Swingbyte is hardly par for the course. The $149, 22-gram device attaches to any club from a driver to a putter, capturing your swing, speed, acceleration, angle, path and tempo. It then parses that data and delivers it to the Swingbyte iOS or Android app so users can see exactly how they can improve while offering video instruction, PGA Tour data and the ability to share your progress via Facebook. Did you get all that?
Co-founder Brian Payne also shared with the crowd that AT&T just picked up Swingbyte to sell in about 1,300 stores nationwide.
“We started this device when it was about the size of a shoebox to being the size of my thumb,” he said. “To now, being available in an AT&T store near you.”
As we heard at the Built in Chicago Pitch earlier this month, GigFunder is a crowd-funding platform for fans to pledge money lobbying for their favorite bands and singers to perform in their city—like a Kickstarter for touring. Founder Matt Pearson explained how the social-media-integrated GigFunder enables fans to support their favorite artists, risk free.
“This is the best time in the world for this opportunity,” he said. “Right now new artists have cheep and easy distribution all over the world; with YouTube, Spotify and Pandora, new artists are developing non-local fan bases at a faster rate than ever.”
RightFitChicago is described as “a fitness network built for you to find the best fitness professionals in Chicago based on your personal preferences.” Tank-top-attired founder Matthew Kornblatt talked about the benefits of living a fit, healthy lifestyle.
“What I’ve actually done is compile a network of personal trainers all over the Chicagoland area that very in price, location, specialization, age, etc.,” he said. “We’re going to match you up through our algorithm with the fitness professional that’s best for you.”
For those that feel like online dating at Match.com and OKCupid focus too much on the online component and not enough on actually meeting anyone, then head on down to Projectfixup.com. The anti-profile dating site pairs users up based on a questionnaire and organizes curated date nights (think: craft beer tasting, coffee, drinks, improv shows, etc.). The founders are so confident this system will work that they will issue you a refund if you’re unsatisfied.
“We think we have a better approach at dating for a lot of reasons,” says Co-founder Sarah Press. “[One being that] it’s more fun, you’re doing activities you love to do anyway and you get to meet someone new in the process.”
Kurfuffl can best be described as adding a social-gaming element to everyday friendly competition. Whether it’s who can run the longest distance, make the most baskets on the court, or score the most numbers at the bar, Kurfuffl helps you keep track of wins and brag about it on Facebook and Twitter. Co-founder Brian Bauer gave endless examples of how Kurfuffl can work in the most random of instances and shared the one feature that makes his app particularly amusing.
“Our secret sauce here at Kurfuffl is we believe in cheating,” Bauer said. “Games are not fun unless there’s a little bit of controversy. … We want to make sure all of your games are full of lots of bad-assery.”