On Tuesday night, the Entrepreneur’s Roundtable was keynoted by entrepreneur-turned-investor, Jos White. White is partnered in Notion Capital and Daring Journey Ventures. Prior to Notion, White co-founded and built RBR Networks, Star and MessageLabs. Each of these companies reached over $100 million in revenue and in 2008, MessageLabs was acquired by Symantec for $700 million.
Six startups pitched their ideas and here’s what they had to offer:
The Dating Ring, presented by Lauren Kay
The Dating Ring is an online dating service that brings an offline dating component. Pairing matchmaking with group dates, The Dating Ring in its early stage has made a date for Meghan McCain of “Raising McCain”
“Online meets traditional sounds very interesting,” said White, who also addressed the challenges the startup is facing, including the building of a user base. “The more people you have, the better the service can become.” Another challenge where White offered insight was the crowded marketplace the company faces. White spoke about need for a coherent plan to differentiate themselves from other online dating services. White’s last piece of insight was his concerns for charging for a profile, which ee felt could cause friction
MyCoop,presented by Alex Norman
MyCoop is a free private social platform for buildings. This platform can be used by tenants to make friends, buy and sell items, and promote information to residents. Since October 1st, 42 buildings have signed up on the website.
White was impressed by the presentation. The story was told in the context of a “Seinfeld” episode to give the description of what the site is doing for the public. White said he could see how mycoop could be an attractive thing. One of his concerns was what the meaning for the site? “Is it just a nice thing to hang out on? How can you take the site to the next level? What would the premium package [subscription] be to generate money?”. White worried about the site’s growth, because of the site’s network within networks. Networks are separated and each building is a network for its residents.
Shopbeam, presented by CEO Jak Benardete
Shopbeam is a platform that enables publishers to monetize their content, allowing users to shop right on their sites. Web users can add items to their universal shopping cart while going site to site. Benardete called his platform “Amazon across the web”.
White addressed a possible delivery integration challenge with e-commerce, but that Shopbeam has an interesting idea and there is a market for the startup. The last piece of insight pertained to selling to publishers and e-commerce. “Selling to both sides [publishers and e-commerce] is like fighting a war on two fronts,” he said.
Mogul Music Academy is an online platform for live music lessons. This site has been able to draw music icons, including Rihanna, Taylor Swift, and David Guetta. The content is user-driven to meet the demands of aspiring musicians through live interaction with musicians and experts in the industry.
White was impressed that at such an early stage, the startup was able to draw major artists. His concern lies in whether or not celebrities would give their time. “What’s the hook for moguls?” he asked. White’s insight included a need to understand the target market. “There are supply issues to think about,” said White – and convincing potential investors about there being a sizeable market for the service.
Wingman App is a module that is able to solve data-driven design problems for websites, based on best practices. Sites register with the platform and are able to pick from a “menu” of best practices. Wingman products come with a built-in testing engine to automatically pinpoint and display the feature variations that are most effective for your users.
White spoke about the value proposition as being the key. “You need to demonstrate the before and after conversion rate going up in a credible way,” he said. His final point about the module was that it should be easy for a site to implement.
Sceenery is a platform to share and discuss favorite moments from movies, tv shows, video games and comic books. Users can be either curators or part of the audience, and get incentives from local retailers by completing assignments.
White said he could relate to the illustration at the beginning of the pitch – “Is anyone here a Breaking Bad fan? How many of you have used the AMC Breaking Bad forum?” White was worried about the idea of destination sites. “By definition it can be a fantastic idea, but getting grand scale is hard to do,” White warned.
Application deadlines for the next batch of companies for the Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator are coming up on 11/15. Learn more here.
Photo credit: Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator on Twitter