The Founder Showcase is a quarterly startup pitch and networking event that gathers over 300 top technology CEOs, investors, and seed-stage companies in Silicon Valley to hear talks from leading CEOs, and help launch a promising startup to greatness. The 11th Founder Showcase was Wednesday, July 25th at the Microsoft Silicon Valley Campus. Guests were treated to an entertaining Pitch Competition featuring 8 of the best seed-stage companies graduating from Founder Institutes globally; as well as talks by Kevin Rose (Founder of Digg, Venture Partner at Google Ventures), Aaron Levie (Co-Founder & CEO of Box), and Hiten Shah (CEO of KISSmetrics). Appetizers and drinks will also be served in a networking hall full of other hot startups demoing at the Demo Table Competition.
There were 350 startup founders, investors, and press in attendance, including over 100 investors, a plethora of over 50 angel investors. We got a behind the scenes look with Founders in the Bay lead by Jeff Paine, head of Founder Institute-Singapore. The group of 10 Singaporeans had two people pitching in the competition. Sam Witteveen presented Family Play and Mikhail Choo presented Gridblaze. Gridblaze is keeping storage local with super fast content upload and download powered by the worlds largest network of proximity aware storage.
Some highlights of the show were the keynote speakers and the panel of judges. Aaron Levie gave an insightful look at the future of enterprise and the consumerization of the enterprise. Kevin Rose gave amazing insights to his experience at Digg, what went wrong and his transition to Google Venture. Some things discussed there were not previously reported on in tech news such as how he feels happened with his term at Digg and his decision to go to Google Venture. Hiten Shah also gave valuable candid advice and shared his motivation to help other entrepreneurs.
The pitch competition had 8 of the best pitches for the 565 FI-grads internationally: Family Play, Thotz.co, Better Weekdays, Kindara, Fankix, Sellingly, Gridblaze and Cont3nt. The demo table competition winners were UpOut, Fandrop and AppFlow. The presentations were judged by crowd voting via JetJaw. the results were projected on stage.
The pitch competition panelists gave a no-holds-barred in-your-face feedback. They grilled the presenters on the spot. They called BS where they thought appropriate. Thankfully this time there was no repeat of what happened at the last showcase where the brutally honest George Zachary, of Charles River, got one of the presenters on the verge of an emotional breakdown. The panel provide such great advice that it really makes these startup reexamine some critical elements in their startups. One was even given the advice to stop what they are doing and do something else.
This form of tough love feedback is what makes these competitions so exciting. These seasoned pros are truly helping to advise these entrepreneurs by giving them such insights to steer their companies. They could be helping these founders by saving them tons of wasted time on an idea that isn’t viable. Calling BS when they see it was rather enlightening. It’s better to hear it from an expert that you are wasting your time than to pursue a plan for another six months and run the project to the ground. Saves lots of time and money. Being able to ask and follow the advice of advisers could definitely make or break a startup.
Adeo’s and his ad hoc comedy standup provided much entertainment as he demanded to hear the voice of God when the panel and audience scores were tied. The panel came down to an unprecedented tie for the first time ever. My favorite quote of the night: “Paymium” – you pay, then you pay again-multiple pmts no freemium!!” Kindara, a fertility charting software for the iPhone, tied with Sellingly, an iPhone integrating your calendar, Salesforce, maps and more on your iPhone, Selligy gets you to your meetings on-time and prepared. In the end, the tie breaker came down to Sellingly.
Overall, it was a great show of innovative and exciting new startups. If you haven’t been to one, definitely go next quarter, especially if you have a startup and want to hear some valuable advice or network with some of the top funders and founders.