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We’ve covered the startups from the DreamIt incubator several times over the past couple of years. Based in Philly, the DreamIt startup incubator helps people with ideas move the ideas forward into full startups. The group provides mentoring, connections, startup community and cash up to $30,000 (most receive $15-25,000).
Applications are accepted from companies and from individuals looking to join a new startup. DreamIt explains how to the process works, “Successful applicants do not need a pre-established business plan, just a great idea and the core members of their team. By the end of the summer program, companies will have a working, fundable version of their product. The program begins in mid-May and ends with the companies presenting their products to leading investors on Demo Day on August 6.”
Some of the NY-based startups that graduated from the DreamIt program include Postling and Seatgeek.
DreamIt is accepting applications through March 22. One of the DreamIt founders presented at the NY Tech Meetup this month and noted that the application should take no more than 15 minutes to complete.
It sure seems more and more that 2010 is the year of the startup incubator with a variety of programs across the country. And if you add in startup coworking and shared office spaces, the segment is growing fast around the world.
Philly-based Vuzit has announced a new round of angel funding today. The round was lead by Robin Hood Ventures and Innovation Philadelphia, and Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania also participated. The company notes that they will use the new funding to enhance its sales and marketing efforts as well as to patent their proprietary document technology.
We initially covered Vuzit when they presented at the DreamIT demo day last September.
Vuzit won the "Most Innovative Product or Service" from the Ben Franklin Emerging Business Awards competition earlier this year. I spoke with Vuzit co-founder Chris Cera who told me about some deals they are working on currently. I can’t share the details yet but the visibility from the deals should be large.
Unlike Scribd and Docstoc, Vuzit isn’t focusing on advertising so they aren’t pushing the content into the social services and working the SEO angle. Vuzit is focusing on the enterprise market and the security side of online document sharing. Vuzit offers a freemium model with prices ranging from free to $59.99/month.
They also note, "With Vuzit’s plans of a future document control system supporting Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPPA privacy requirements, Vuzit is primed to extend their current success into a whole new market."
Summer 2008 DreamIT company Anthillz announced earlier this week that they have relaunched with a strong focus on building trusted relationships for business professionals. We initially covered Anthillz last month when they launched.
Anthillz describes their new mission as, "Unlike traditional social and professional networks, Anthillz encourages you to connect with only your trusted colleagues." They go on to say, "Our emphasis on trusted colleagues—rather than acquaintances and people you hardly know—makes our network a more reliable source of recommendations, referrals, and introductions." The only way to connect with someone on Anthillz is to write a trusted review of that person. It’s a very interesting concept to create a network of people who are in my trusted circle.
It sounds like a great idea especially in this world of the "auto-friend" on most networks. But I wonder if that’s what LinkedIn was supposed to be when it launched and eventually morphed over time. I’d propose a more business-focused name to go along with their new focus.
InterviewBest is one of the DreamIT startup incubator companies. InterviewBest helps you created a printed, bound presentation to take with you to an interview. The idea is that the presentation is stronger than any resume and helps sell you better to the hiring manager. Since it will be left behind with the hiring manager, it can help show why you are the best candidate for the job.
The InterviewBest system asks you questions to help create the presentation and there are content libraries to help beef up the overall presentation. The service costs $29.95 for a two-week subscription. The presentation is output as a PDF document which you can either get bound online or take to a local printer. If InterviewBest was smart – they would go partner with Mimeo and make the process easier. Forcing people to select a printer or find a local print shop is a big hassle.
The system also generates a "follow-through letter" after the interview. CEO Eric Kramer noted that hiring managers like the interview presentation. As a former hiring manager, I am not sure I agree with his analysis. It would seem like the candidate might be trying to run the interview and that’s typically a bad idea. If it’s just to leave behind, it is worth $40?
Revenue comes from recruiter fees, Outplacement, job boards, corporations and a destination site with ads along with secondary revenue from printing partners. InterviewBest is currently looking to raise $450,000 to build traffic and revenue and build out functionality.
Here’s Kramer showing off some of the companies that applicants using the InterviewBest system have applied at:
Sleep.FM was one of the companies presenting today at the DreamIT Funding Day in Philadelphia. Sleep.FM says they are the "social alarm clock" and they basically provide a new wakeup call. I’ve had the opportunity to meet founder Ryan Spahn at several events and he really believes in the Sleep.FM concept.
So many of the reviews and comments I read say that Sleep.FM can’t and will never work. Yet in his presentation today, Ryan showed a video of a man serving in the military in Iraq. The alarm clock went off and his daughter sang to him – when you see this use case, it starts to make more sense.
Sleep.FM wakeup calls can be sent through your computer or to your cell phone. Ryan also announced that you can get weather or traffic information as your wakeup message as well. They are working on offering flight information as well which is pretty slick – if your flight is delayed, Sleep.FM tells you.
They are currently seeking $200k for technology development and business development. The Sleep.FM revenue model includes selling 5 second highly targeted ad space, premium application offerings, and banner ads. I’d suggest staying away from the ads in the wake-up calls and looking at sponsored wake-up calls. For example, a Hannah Montana wakeup call that provides a different message each day. These sponsored wake-up calls could help sell Sleep.FM in the general marketplace as well.
Tapinko is one of the startups to come out of the DreamIT startup incubator. Tapinko President Peter Groverman opened the presentation by explaining that there’s currently no place to purchase multiple offline ads (e.g. to purchase in every newspaper in Philly). My initial thought was that Google provides this type of offline newspaper ad buying already.
Peter took us through his presentation and overall I was very impressed with the service. Basically the Tapinko service is an outsourced offline ad management application. The service makes it easy for offline media to sell ads online. Tapinko only charges a transaction fee when sellers make a purchase which basically leaves no reason for media companies not to try it. The service can work with any offline advertising including outdoor advertising (i.e. billboards).
They are currently working with a variety of college daily newspapers in the Northeast with a 3-5 year plan to move into local publications and magazines. A 3-5 year plan is way too long – by then Google will own the space and/or the space will transform yet again. If they want to own this space, they need to buildout the "mall" of offline advertising options and sign-on as many partners as possible.
Today I spent time at the DreamIT Ventures Funding Day in Philadelphia. The first company was Vuzit presented by founder Brent Matzelle. Vuzit is an online document viewer similar to Docstoc and Scribd. Vuzit can protect documents by preventing unauthorized copy and download functions. Vuzit appears to be focused on the enterprise business market.
Vuzit is currently serving 1,000 users and over 12,000 document requests per day. To-date the company has raised $350,000. Brent showed a slide of the competition and only included enterprise level applications — Docstoc/Scribd weren’t even mentioned.
During the Q&A, I asked about the comparison between Vuzit and Docstoc/Scribd. Brent replied that Docstoc/Scribd are about public sharing and Vuzit is about privacy and protection. He went on to say that the other companies have very basic features. This was a bit shocking considering all three companies basically offer the exact same product. A good slide for Brent to add would be a comparison of the three services – for example, Vuzit focuses on enterprise customers while Docstoc focuses on their public-facing repository.