Chicago Techweek 2012: GoSoapBox Demo & Interview (video)

We met GoSoapBox here at Techweek Chicago 2012.  They began with the idea of a Social Q&A service.  Dave Mulder went to the Lansing Startup Weekend and walked away the winner with Social Q&A.  Dave described it as, “socially-ranked questions and answers for the classroom.”  This idea grew from Dave’s personal experience in college lecture halls and when he originally pitched the idea at the Startup Weekend it squeaked into the competition with the bare minimum requirements.  Dave pitched the idea and captured the attention of John Pytel and Eduardo Serrano – who joined him to build out the idea.

John (who is now co-founder and CEO) described his reaction when he heard the pitch.

When Dave told me about his idea for GoSoapBox, it was an “Aha” moment for me. Give students a platform to contribute to class without a physical interruption and they’ll use it! I know I would have. What I love about GoSoapBox though is that its value isn’t limited to students who don’t feel like participating, it benefits the entire class….even the A+ students sitting in the front row.

Later they joined the 2011 Chicago Lean Startup Challenge – and won.  Dave discussed this with me at length but explained (in a nutshell) that it stressed build fast, fail fast, build again, repeat.  Don’t spend ages trying to “perfect” the app or idea only to find out that you’ve just blown all of the money in the bank and the users hate it.  GoSoapBox built different versions of their app and let users test it, provide feedback, and then they went back and rebuilt.

Why were they at Techweek 2012?  Part of the reason certainly must have included the fact that they work just four floors above Techweek at 1871. Primarily they decided due to the summer downturn by educators and schools it makes sense to look into other options for revenue.  Notice I said other options.  They are bringing in money already.  Techweek seemed to be the perfect time for them to launch their solution for conferences.

GoSoapBox improves audience engagement at your event by giving your audience an anonymous platform to ask questions, and the ability to respond to polls using any smartphone, tablet, or laptop…. all in real time.

No more dealing with complicated clickers, running around with microphones, or hearing from THAT GUY over and over. GoSoapBox makes audience engagement more interactive, more efficient, and more enjoyable than ever before.





When I first heard what the original concept did I immediately thought of any number of conferences that I’ve attended that included a Q&A session.  Typically, if the speaker is very popular, it can be absolutely impossible to have your question asked.  I thought this would be perfect for those situations.  The audience can vote up questions that appeal to the whole rather than just a single person, the speaker could track the crowds interests through live polling, and it can serve to help make it so the person who asked the tough question remains anonymous (giving those of us in the press an edge if we’ve already pre-written our story while betting on the answer we might hear).

Dave and I discuss GoSoapBox, Chicago, and 1871 in the video interview below.


Find out more about GoSoapBox here

Here’s more of our coverage from Chicago TechWeek 2012

Like what we do? Here’s a link worth checking out

Chicago Lean Startup Challenge Taking Applications For Summer Session

The Chicago Lean Startup Challenge, like other similarly named challenges across the country is based on Eric Reis’ “Lean Startup” methodology, customer development by Steve Blank and the business canvass model by Alexander Osterwalder. Ultimately the challenge is to take startups and hone them in on the most efficient way to succeed.

“Unlike business plan competitions, the Lean Startup Challenge focuses on real, meaningful results for the participants. The final presentations provided insights into the area where so many startups fail – understanding their customer!” -Nik Rokop, Director at Knapp Entrepreneurship Center IIT.

The 14 week startup program is designed to get startups on the path to success. The program, in it’s second year, will hold lean startup classes, give participants access to mentors and the community, connect startups with the tools they need and they have over $75,000 in cash and prizes.

More after the break
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