Dead Tags Can Hurt Your Startup, ObservePoint Can Help

ObservePoint, Utah Startup, Startups, Startup Interview

The general consensus among website analytics experts is that 20% of tags on most websites for companies big and small are tagged incorrectly.

Provo, Utah startup ObservePoint has found that this discrepancy can amount to big losses for companies dependent on web traffic. The newest trend in web analytics companies are those that are doing “tag auditing”. ObservePoint is one of those companies.

In a recent case study, ObservePoint found that they’ve been able to increase the amount a site can sell ad and banner space for by 100% simply because the traffic site owners are reporting is actually lower as a result of tag “mis-firings”.

The same can be true for the other end of the spectrum as well.  In some cases they’ve seen sites with up to 37% inflation because there are multiple instances of the same tag on a page that fire and then traffic numbers are inflated.

As mobile and web advertising continues to increase ten-fold, media buyers are desperately looking for the most accurate traffic. To find that, there is a need to look past traditional SEO and directly to tag auditing, which is where ObservePoint comes in.

ObservePoint founders Rob Seolas and John Pestana both come from solid web traffic and analytics backgrounds. Seolas was the co-founder of iLead Media an internet sales lead generation startup that was acquired by Think Partnership in 2005. Pestana was co-founder at Omniture which was acquired by Adobe in 2009.

Now they’ve put their collective smarts together to help companies optimize not just their sites but right down to the tags.

We got a chance to talk with ObsevePoint. Check out the rest of the interview below.

What does your company do?

ObservePoint keeps tag and web analytic data honest by going through a site and auditing each page’s tags to verify whether or not they are firing and reporting accurate data

Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds

When starting ObservePoint both founders Rob Seolas and John Pestana set out to solve the problem of correcting the accuracy in online marketing and web analytics data. Each founder had a solid background in understanding how companies measure web traffic and produce web leads.

Where are you based?

ObservePoint is located in the Silicon Slopes, or more officially Provo, Utah.

What’s the startup scene like where you are based?

Provo is a city about an hour south of Salt Lake City, which has a vibrant start-up community. It was been named to a number of business lists as a top place to start a business. Forbes named it at the No. 1 place for business and careers.

Provo’s technology and start-up pedigree runs deep and many of the area’s tech startups can be linked to Novell and WordPerfect. Since the Novell and WordPerfect days the Silicon Slopes – a name coined by John’s previous partner and Omniture co-founder, Josh James– there have been hundreds of tech companies that have launched and gone on to be acquired by bigger out-of-state companies or private equity. In the past six years that list includes Altiris (by Symantec for $800M), Omniture (by Adobe for $1.2B), (by Permira Funds for $1.6B), Vivint (by Blackstone Group for $2B), among others.

In addition to the acquisitions, Angels and VCs have been active and investing heavily in Provo-area companies like Qualtrics ($70M), ($35M), and Domo ($125M) to name a few. Other non-Utah-based companies like eBay, Adobe, HP and American Express have established significant presences in the area.


Add the fact that Google Fiber recently chose Provo, and it’s been a pretty good year for the region.


What problem do you solve?

Most web analysts know that their analytics data is dirty, but they either don’t know how to detect and clean it up or they know they and their superiors have come to expect it and sweep it under the rug.

A major hurdle is the thousands of hours it would take to go through each page to check AND test each tag to make sure it is firing correctly. At least that’s how it was before ObservePoint came around. What we’ve found is that on average, websites have a 20 percent error rate in their web analytics data due to tagging problems.

When we tell a web analyst they show us the tags and proudly state that the tags are there. However, they don’t really know whether the tag is firing and reporting the data accurately. In addition to tags not being present or firing on the page we have found that some sites have a huge inflation rate because of tag duplication on one page and each of them report that as unique traffic. This inaccurate data is troublesome because companies are basing major decisions on this information.

ObservePoint automates the auditing for all the tags on a website. We run a thorough scan of the site and test each tag to make sure it is firing. After that we present reports of the pages that have problems so they know what they need to fix.

Why now?

The idea and the development and testing of the technology started in 2007. However, we believed that the issue would become more prominent in the next few years and that foresight is paying off because companies are starting to realize that they can’t continue to make decisions based on bad data.

Also, the tag management space has shone a bright light on the headache that is managing each tag. Companies are starting to add a tag management platform, but that can create a false sense of security when it comes to data quality. Really, tag management platforms need to be audited the same way an analytics tag does to ensure that data is collected correctly.

We are called into a lot of new tag management implementations to audit them and companies are shocked when they find that the tag management system hasn’t solved their data quality issues.

What are some of the milestones your startup has already reached?

Besides having record revenue years, one of our major milestones happened earlier this year when we were invited into Adobe’s Enterprise Solution Partner Program. That was a big step and one that John and Rob hoped would happen since the beginning.

What are your next milestones?

On the technology front, we’re working on adding the #1 requested capability – that is to audit tags that fire on click. (Currently, only page-load tags are catalogued.) This requires some major back-end technology changes, and that will add a new and improved user interface, better performance, comparison to historical data, and a slew of other features.

We recently passed a milestone of no longer thinking of ourselves as being in start-up mode as we are in growth mode. We’ve been taking on clients for about two years, but our technology is already much more mature than that. We’re well ahead of everyone else in terms of understanding tagging issues and as such, we are now taking on customers at our fastest pace ever and we don’t expect that to slow down for the foreseeable future

Where can people find out more? Any social media links you want to share?

All our information is on our website: Also, we have a free Chrome plug-in tool that we’ve developed that allows Web analysts and QA people to see the tags on their site right inside the browser. It can be found on our website –

People can also learn more through our social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


Indian Startup Price-Hunt Is Helping Indian Consumers Shop The Best Price

Price-Hunt, Indian startup, startup interview

A new Indian startup called Price-Hunt is hoping to become the go-to destination for Indian consumers to find the best price on products. Once most consumers have found the product they are looking for, the next thing they do is shop by price. Obviously if you’re comparing apples to apples, like for instance a specific laptop model by a specific manufacturer, the final decision is going to be price.

Price-Hunt offers price based search results on anything from consumer electronics to the latest fashions.

“But search at is not limited by categories and one can find anything here that is available at online stores. Its main aim is to make Indian consumers aware of price variation for products in India and make it possible for him/her to save money through price comparison,” Anupam Khurana, the startup,s co-founder told us an in interview.

Check out the rest of the interview below.

What is your startup called?


What does your company do? is a real time price search engine which searches and delivers the best prices across various online stores in India. Price-Hunt showcases wide product range from various categories like Consumer Electronic goods, Mobiles, Digital cameras, LCD TVs, home appliances, clothing and apparels, shoes, watches, jewellery and much more. But search at is not limited by categories and one can find anything here that is available at online stores. Its main aim is to make Indian Consumers aware of price variation for products in India and make it possible for him/her to save money through price comparison.

Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds is founded by Anupam Khurana and Palka Khurana.

Anupam Khurana is B.E. (Mechanical) from Delhi College of Engineering with 10 years experience in software and business development.

Palka Khurana is B.E.(Instrumentation) from Delhi Institute of technology with 8 years experience in Marketing and sales management.


Where are you based?

We are based in Gurgaon (Haryana), India.


What’s the startup scene like where you are based?

Our target consumer is online shoppers of all age groups. With online shopping gaining popularity day by day, Price-Hunt was launched with a vision to simplify and enhance online shopping. It revolves about the idea of presenting a one stop search for all online shopping. We We hope to meet our goals and targets soon.

What problem do you solve? is an online price search engine with real time search as a distinguishing feature. Price search is not limited to any product and current coverage is stores in India. also features current deals and offers for a single click experience. It will change the way people buy products online. One will not have to go to and store individually to check prices and buy products. the one point access to all shopping needs online will be

Why now?

Online shopping is gaining momentum and has bright future prospects with an increasing number of people opting to do shopping from the convenience of their home or office. Once keen to shop online, the traditional way is to browse each of the various online stores and order the product from the stores offering the best price (of course with a name and reputation for being good). This takes a lot of time defeating the purpose of time saving in online shopping and one still might miss a store offering a better price and end up buying the product at a higher price. Thus we came up with an idea of providing one click search for all stores so that the shopper finds the best price/deal immediately comparing offerings from the different stores for the product searched. This led us to the idea to develop price-hunt.

What are some of the milestones your startup has already reached?

The company uses generic search engine route to get visitors to the site. We also use social media to provide personalized deals to consumers. has an average visitor count of about 900 and we are building up on that. We have just started and will go a long way.

What are your next milestones?

Mobile version of the site is under development. It will be an adaptation of the desktop version to the mobile with reduced features. We also plan an andriod application for the mobile users in very near future. We also plan to launch the Android application of the site very soon.

Where can people find out more? Any social media links you want to share?


LA Startup Roometrics Wants To Be The GoTo Place For Roomates

Roometrics, Los Angeles startup, startup, startup interview

Finding a bad roommate sucks. The sites out there to find the perfect roommate are far from perfect. Of course there’s also the newspaper and Craigslist, but you’re opening up yourself to a whole world of trouble. Often times when you find and interview a potential roommate from the classifieds or Craigslist, it’s much like a job interview. You get someone showing off their best, and when they move in the worst can kick in.

A Los Angeles startup called Roometrics is trying to create that perfect platform for finding a roommate. Call it the “” for roommates.

And that’s exactly what they do. Roometrics allows users to create a roommate profile that encompasses many facets of living with someone. The answers users give to the profile questions are then securely saved and can be shared with potential roommates and compatibility scores.

We got a chance to interview the team behind Roometrics. Check out the interview below.

What is Roometrics?

Roometrics is a web app that lets users find roommates that match their lifestyle based on over 50 specialized criteria. Think of it as an eHarmony meets Craigslist meets Carfax, but for roommates. The company has spent over a year developing the algorithm that shows users how well they would get along with a potential roommate. The idea is to get rid of the guesswork that often comes along with roommate finding through the current services.

In layman’s terms, how does it work?

To put it simply, users fill out a series of questions that will be used to calculate a “roommate profile”. We ask questions regarding current lifestyle and personality. Users are given a link which they can share with potential roommates they find on services like Craigslist. On the site, users can see how well they match overall with a person as well lifestyle and personality. The answers users give for questions are NOT shared with anyone and are simply used to generate compatibility scores.

Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?

Founders are Ardy Rahman and William Tran. Both are 26 and from Los Angeles, CA.

Ardy has an MSc in Developmental Neuroscience from University College London and completed a graduate fellowship focusing on addiction psychiatry at Yale University. He’s taken his experiences with neuroscience, psychiatry, and programming to develop the core personality metrics used in Roometrics.

Will has his BA from Pomona College and has spent his career in education as a high school English teacher and admission counselor. He’s mentored students at different stages of their development and has seen how the social dynamics of high school and college can impact that development. He and Ardy work together on developing the technology that drives Roometrics as well as marketing the service to befit our target demographic.

Where are you based?

We are located in Los Angeles, CA

What’s the startup scene/culture like where you’re based?

Relatively small (compared to SV), but hugely passionate. We have some strong tech startups out here and with a growing enthusiasm, we are moving closer to the tech renaissance that has graced places like Palo Alto, Austin, and Cambridge. There is tremendous talent in SoCal, it just needs to be given the opportunity to express itself.

How did you come up with the idea for Roometrics?

Through a mixture of bad roommate experiences and even worse roommate searching experiences. There has never been a “go to” place for people that need roommates. The services are all disjointed and our market research shows that many still rely on word of mouth. We decided that needed to change.

What problem does Roometrics solve?

Currently, to find a roommate, one can use a handful of services with Craigslist being the most used resource. But what about the intangibles; the things a CL posting doesn’t tell you. Like what kind of person they are, if you have similar living styles, or if you have similar outlooks on life, etc. Our research shows that even if you don’t know it, these are all important factors to consider when living with someone and will directly affect how comfortable you are at home. Roometrics gives you that extra tool when trying to find a roommate. A bit like when you ask for the Carfax, roommates can ask for the “roometrics” from people they meet on craigslist to see if they are compatible before ever signing a long term lease.

What’s your secret sauce?

We’ve developed both a unique assessment and algorithm which is used to specifically assess roommate compatibility. It’s based of empirical research that others have conducted as well as our own novel research on roommate dyads/triads. We’ve collected and analyzed data on over 200 roommates to construct the foundation of our technology. Combined with our user interface, we’ve created an easy to use system for roommate matching.

Why Now?

Our market analysis shows the 2008 economic crisis has had a horrendous effect on the housing market. The age at which people buy their first house has shifted to the right, resulting in a larger amount of the population renting apartments for longer periods of time. Moreover, because the economy had tanked, more people are looking for roommates to split costs of living in order to save some money. The process to find roommates is lackluster and the process to find GOOD roommates is even more discouraging. That needed to be changed and that’s what we’re doing.

Who are some of your mentors and business role models?

Ardy: I profoundly respect Bill Gates. If you want to talk about a man who had the brains and the tenacity to take an idea and change the world, he’s your guy. But what sets him apart from other insanely successful individuals is his compassion and down-to-earth personality. Both he and Warren Buffet’s insistence on social responsibility are commendable. In a time when we need to restore faith in the practice of business, they are setting amazing examples for their students and peers.

Will: I am a fan of education technology. Even though it’s not a longstanding crowd, individuals pushing the envelope with products like Khan Academy, Udacity, and Coursera are my biggest fans (hope I can join them). I may not wholly agree with the internet classroom but I think this innovation is integral to ed reform. I’ve taught classic novels written ages ago but I recognize that we can’t continue to teach students the same way we have in the last 100 years.

What’s next for Roometrics?

Launching our beta. We have a few key collaborations that we are developing and hope to introduce our technology to the public shortly. After that, growth!

Where can people find out more?

You can check us out at where you can sign up with your email. Or you can read up on us at 


Vancouver Startup Wantering: Google For Fashion?

Wantering, Big Data, Vancouver startup, startup interview

You’d be surprised how many data points there are when it comes to shopping online. When you take into consideration data across the web and then across the social web we’re talking about hundreds of millions of data points. While the normal shopper can’t analyze or look at all of those data points, sometimes shopping for clothes online can easily result in 30 or 40 open browser windows. This can get ugly, confusing, and slow your computer down.

A Vancouver startup called Wantering is hoping to help solve your fashion faux pas, by analyzing over 100 million data points for you in what they call the “WantRank” algorithm.

Whether you’re shopping by deal, brand, category, color, print, fabric, or any other category, wantering can help narrow down your search and point you to the best deal. Then, the web platform can take you to a destination to purchase.

The team behind Wantering all came from the online retail world and they’ve spent years combing through and analyzing data.

We got a chance to talk to Wantering Evangelist, Kathleen Ong. Check out the interview below.


What does your company do?

Ever try to shop online when you’re not quite sure exactly what you’re looking for? We’ve been there. Wantering helps shoppers find clothes they’ll love through our fashion search engine. Save yourself the wasted time and frustration of opening up multiple browser tabs, wondering if something is on sale or in stock, and trying to shop from tiny thumbnails.

You can shop for clothes by brand, category, materials, prints, and color across a curated list of boutiques, flash sales sites and major retailers all in one place. And if you’re curious about why something is at the top of a search result, it’s because of our WantRank algorithm. WantRank tracks and analyzes over 100 million data points across the social web and ranks products based on what’s getting the most social-love.

Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds

The Wantering team are no strangers to online shopping. Wantering’s CEO is Matt Friesen, a technology industry veteran. Matt was previously the founder and CEO of Thirdi Software, a custom software development shop specialized in building eCommerce stores and web applications. Matt started Wantering in 2011 after Thirdi Software was acquired by Invoke Media (the creators of Hootsuite). Nick Cairns is Wantering’s head of UX and was previously the Director of User Interface & Design at Move Inc (the parent company of Jesse Sherlock is Wantering’s CTO, and has experience building highly scalable systems for Reinvent (one of the largest domain owners in the world) and the BC Lottery Corp. Nicholas Molnar is the head of product, and was previously a web strategist at Thirdi Software. Nicholas sits on the board of directors of F Cancer and has been a speaker at numerous technology-focused events including TedxVancouver.

Where are you based?

Wantering is based in Vancouver and New York City.

What’s the startup scene like where you are based?

Vancouver is known as Silicon Valley North. There is a great startup scene here with a growing community of startups, investors and accelerator programs such as GrowLab, which Wantering went through in 2012.

In New York, we’re based out of General Assembly. Wantering was selected as one of six startups to be part of the Canadian Technology Accelerator (CTA) New York program this fall. We’re looking forward to meeting people and getting to know the New York tech community on a more intimate level.

We get the best of both worlds; participating in Vancouver’s growing tech scene is such a rewarding experience and travelling to New York, where the industry is much more mature, has been eye-opening.

What problem do you solve?

We’re solving some of the most basic problems in online shopping. Where do I look for a new pair of shoes? What’s on sale from my favorite designer? Where can I get a blue cocktail dress for this wedding I’m going to?

Wantering gives shoppers a beautiful platform to discover and buy clothing by pulling together the best e-commerce stores all in one place. Gigantic images, detailed descriptions, trending products, and up-to-date stock and sale information make shopping less time consuming and more fulfilling.

Why now?

We believe searching for clothes online has lost its way. The results you see in leading product search engines are typically paid posts by retailers. One look at Google Shopping and you’ll find a big notice in the corner explaining exactly that! Not to mention, they don’t understand my style taste, and they completely disregard current trends in fashion.

Can you name two new features in product search since the ’90s? Shopzilla launched in 1996, Yahoo Shopping in ’97, MySimon in ’98, and Nextag in ’99. They’ve barely changed since, and are somehow still billion dollar businesses.

We think this is an area ripe for disruption. On we put the best products first by using 100 million data points from the social web, and we aren’t going to sell our users out. There is tons of room for innovation in this space, and we’re excited to be building something really cool to help people shop online better.

What are some of the milestones your startup has already reached?

There’s been quite a few big milestones for us in the last 18 months. Releasing our search engine in spring 2013 was a one of the biggest moments for us; it’s both rewarding and motivating to see what you’ve been working on for months come to life. There is still more work to be done and we’re looking forward to what’s ahead.

What are your next milestones?

We have some cool product features in the works over the next while, so we’re excited to get those out!

Where can people find out more? 

Shop for clothes you’ll love on


Chicago Startup Personify Merges Human Interaction With Digital Content to Make Presentations More Personal

Personify, Chicago Startup, Immersive Video,startups, startup interview

We’re still far away from teleporting technology. In the meantime a Chicago startup called Personify has found a way to make remote presentations more personal.

Using depth sensing camera’s like the one found in the Microsoft Kinect, the company’s product called Personify Life, puts someone giving a presentation as close to being in the room as possible.

“Most remote presentations, including webinars and PowerPoint slideshows, lack the personal component that make in-person communication successful and keep audiences engaged. Personify Live brings those critical elements back by seamlessly merging human interaction with digital content,” a company spokesperson told Nibletz in an interview.

Personify boasts an incredibly well educated team of founders who are working on something that will make boring old meetings much more engaging. It’s almost like a hologram of the presentation giver is in the room.

We got a chance to interview the team from Personify. Check out the interview below.

What is your startup called?

Personify Inc.

What does your company do?

Personify is an immersive video communication company that bridges the gap between communicating remotely and talking face-to-face. Personify products create a deeper sense of presence while remote by seamlessly merging human interaction with digital content.

Personify Live, the flagship product from Illinois-based Personify, uses a virtual-green screen technology called User Extraction to visually immerse the individual in the content they are presenting, enabling the presenters’ body language, passion, enthusiasm and visual persona to dramatically enliven the experience.

With Personify Live, an individual can lead a virtual presentation from anywhere, in a one-to-one or one-to-many setting, and all presentations can be recorded and stored in the cloud. Users simply connect a depth-sensing camera, such as a Microsoft Kinect or ASUS Xtion Pro Live, to his or her PC. Personify Live’s technology was developed for sales and marketing professionals, however, its clients operate in industries ranging from online education to medicine. Personify Live has been adopted by hallmark enterprises and institutions such as SAP, Oracle, LinkedIn, Marketo and the University of Illinois.

The product’s technology is beneficial to a variety of industries, backgrounds and use cases.

Clients across all industries are reporting shorter sales cycles and more engaged audiences. One study found a 60 percent improvement in sales closing rates when online demos were used. In another case, a Personify Live client noted that 90 percent of webinar attendees reported being “more engaged” than with a traditional webinar. Furthermore, studies show a 400 percent increase in perceived learning using Personify Live vs. traditional online education tools.

By using Personify Live, organizations see a substantial increase in its business metrics, including close rates and ROI. Additionally, Personify Live works with WebEx, GoToMeeting, Skype and other traditional Web conferencing solutions for ease of use.

Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds?

Personify might have the most well-educated group of co-founders of any startup on the planet. Of the five co-founders, four have Ph.D.s and one has a Master’s degree. Three are professors of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois.

Although academics do not have a history of correlating with entrepreneurs and startups, the University of Illinois, and its engineering department, is bucking that trend. The U of I is well known for startup and entrepreneurial successes including Netscape and YouTube. Personify is one of its most recent.

Sanjay Patel, Personify’s CEO, began his career as a chip designer in the 1990s, later becoming the CTO of Ageia Technologies, a company that developed chips to improve the graphics in video games. In addition to his CEO duties, Sanjay is also a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the U of I. Two other cofounders, Minh Do, Personify’s co-founder and chief scientist, and Wen-mei Hwu, one of the world’s foremost experts in parallel computing, are both professors at the U of I as well.

The depth-based rendering of video utilized for Personify’s two products, Personify Live and zChat, slated to be released this fall, was constructed based on Minh and co-founder Quang Nguyen’s research.

Personify’s fifth co-founder, Dennis Lin, holds a Ph.D. from UIUC, specializes in computer vision and is a leader on Personify’s development team.

Where are you based?

Personify, which is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, also has offices in Champaign and Ho-Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

What’s the startup scene like where you are based?

Personify benefits from the location in Chicago thanks to the city’s burgeoning tech scene. Chicago is home to 1871 and TechNexus, some of the most active and innovative startup incubators in the United States.

Why now?

Personify was founded in 2009 after the technologies needed, including depth-sensing, had developed enough to utilize in-product. Personify Live uses various types of cutting-edge technology to connect people instead of distancing them. The field of perceptual computing, thanks to a movement lead by Intel, has developed significantly and will continue to do so in the coming years. Personify, in fact, is a proud participant in Intel’s perceptual computing movement and was showcased on stage with Intel at the 2013 International CES in Las Vegas, Nevada back in January. Personify Live also utilizes gesture recognition technology which allows a presenter to advance a slide on his or her PowerPoint with just the swipe of a hand.

What are some of the milestones your startup has already reached?

Personify was named a finalist for the Illinois Technology Association (ITA) CityLIGHTS Trailblazing Award, which recognizes companies that have developed or introduced an ingenious, non-traditional and innovative way of doing business or creating a culture that produces significant value and growth for the company.

Personify Live has been adopted by a number of Fortune 500 companies that range in industries from healthcare to education.

Additionally, within six months of launching, Personify Live earned a position as an emerging market leader in the Web conferencing Industry by G2 Grid, a service of G2 Crowd. G2 Grid rates products and services algorithmically in real-time based on user reviews and analysis. Personify Live is currently considered an innovator in the Web conferencing segment, a category that includes Cisco’s WebEx, Citrix GoToMeeting and Skype – all products that integrate with Personify Live.

What are your next milestones?

Personify recently opened their new headquarters in the River North neighborhood of Chicago and announced plans to increase full-time staff by 50 percent in the next six months.

Personify’s consumer-facing immersive video chat tool, zChat, is slated for release this fall, which will bring perceptual computing to consumers and allow users to stay connected like never before.

Finally, in the near future, Personify hopes to be adopted by more companies, both large and small, across the world. Personify Live will hopefully be used to improve communication for these corporations, both internally and externally.

Where can people find out more? Any social media links you want to share?

More information about Personify can be found at



Could This Waterloo Startup Change Digital Advertising The Way Blackberry Originally Changed The Smartphone

Linkett, WestonExpressions, Canadian startup, startup interview

People in Waterloo come up with some amazing ideas. Although we often joke about RIM/Blackberry these days, back when they first came out they created an entirely new industry, one that still has renewing legacy customers. By putting customers’ messaging abilities, calendars, and digital lives in the palm of their hands and making it all sync wirelessly with the office, things were easy and efficient.

Although RIM has stopped innovating, Waterloo has not.

Enter WestonExpressions, a Waterloo-based startup behind a new wireless digital, interactive advertising platform called Linkett. Now I’m definitely not a fan of big buzz words, but Linkett is really all of those things. It may be what the world has been looking for in the form of new advertising.

Linkett allows you to let your phone interact with many different types of digital advertising platforms. It can be an ad on your computer screen, a bus stop sign or even at the mall. You can use Linkett to walk through an exhibit and download the music playing. Users can use Linkett to download an author’s book while at the bookstore. You can even use Linkett to get a mall directory by just swiping your phone in front of a display. Really, the possibilities for this new advertising platform are limitless.

“The attention span of the average consumer in today’s world is at an all-time low due to “media clutter.” People can’t remember things that were advertised to them on a TV or a billboard like they once could and therefore traditional digital signage ads are less efficient. We solve this problem by making all content interactive and easily accessible for consumers while providing key analytics to promoters. Online ads provide analytics to advertisers so they can boost ad effectiveness, so we want to provide the same type of data and service but in the real world,” the team told us in an interview.

To get an idea of this new level of interaction check out the video.

What is your startup called?


What does your company do?

WestonExpressions is a technology corporation providing hardware and software innovations for the out-of-home advertisement industry.

Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds?

Douglas Lusted is the CEO and co-Founder of WestonExpressions. Douglas founded the company in 2012 after winning the University of Waterloo’s Innovation Showcase and Velocity Venture Fund in his second year of business studies; leading to the development of Linkett Technology.

Ashok Patel is the COO and co-Founder of WestonExpressions. Ashok is a computer scientist that graduated from the University of Waterloo and currently handles hardware engineering and operations. Ashok is a serial entrepreneur who previously co-founded Softart MicroSystems which was acquired by BlackBerry, where he was team lead for the GSM/GPRS radio protocol stack implementation team.

Vlad Pisanov is the CTO and co-founder of WestonExpressions. Vlad finished Hon.B.Sc in Physics from the University of Toronto and obtained his Master’s Degree in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo. Vlad’s previous work experience includes outdoor advertisement agencies and developed the core backend system of Linkett.

What’s the startup scene like where you are based?

Kitchener is very tech intensive, and has a common theme of new mobile technologies especially at the Communitech Hub and Velocity Garage which serves as our incubator. There are a lot of software companies, and great engineers from the University of Waterloo. There is a much more “west-coast” vibe around a lot of the companies compared to New York or Toronto for example. After BufferBox was acquired, Vidyard and Thalmic raised high series A rounds of funding, it really attracted some talent and investors in the area.

Why now?

Digital marketing is the fastest growing channel of marketing and the technology in mobile devices is rapidly innovating. There is a critical shift in how consumers shop, obtain information and are entertained and it is being reflected in how they engage with brands, and with digital screens. We think it is the perfect time to improve digital screen technology so it can keep up with consumers and their mobile devices.

What are some of the milestones your startup has already reached?

In our first week we have reached many milestones. We closed our first round of funding from VC Firms and angel investors and also reached over 50,000 hits on YouTube. We have two international protected Patent applications and sold units internationally in the United States, Canada, Peru, New Zealand and Ireland.

What are your next milestones?

Our next milestones to reach include continuing to drive sales in North America and penetrating the retail market. We will finish product development and ship Linketts to those who have pre-ordered as well as launch our next generation Linkett that offers payment not only through mobile devices, but also through loyalty and credit cards.

Where can people find out more? Any social media links you want to share?

Even Canadian startups are welcome at this huge startup conference “everywhere else” 

Mexican Entrepreneuer Working On Hospitality Retention With His Startup Guest Retain

GuestRetain, Mexican startup, startup interview

With all the online platforms out there for hotels, spas, and other hospitality oriented services, the first and most influential exposure  is typically based on price. I know when I started using the hotel site we use today, back in 2002, it was strictly price driven. Now, we typically book 100s of nights a year, and we look for amenities and hotels that will still let us use our brand rewards even though we book through a third party.

Once a user gets over the initial cost benefit, retaining customers to any one brand and becoming loyal is a tough sell. Most of the time when we hear about loyalty and rewards, which are the centerpieces around customer retention, we are typically talking about retail and restaurants.

Geordie Wardman, a Mexican entrepreneur, is hoping to change the way companies in the hotel, salon, and spa industries retain quality customers and solve customer issues as fast as they can.

We keep hearing stories about consumer giants like Best Buy, Dell, and American Airlines, who have devoted huge teams of employees to monitor review sites and social media. But what about the small business, or even the startup?

That’s where Guest Retain comes in. Wardman’s company monitors the biggest review sites and social media to find the buzz words and other indicators of a negative review, alerting a business owner within minutes so that they can try their best to turn a negative into a positive.

A customer who has been turned around from a bad experience is far more likely to be loyal than just a regular customer. Guest Retain hones in on that idea, getting the most important information back to the companies so they can act on it.

We got a chance to talk to Warman. Check out the interview below.

What is your startup called?

GuestRetain – We handle online reputation marketing for Hotels, Spas and Salons. Our solution basically automates positives reviews by capturing testimonials and when the customers responses are positive guiding the customers to leave positive reviews on the social review sites like Google Reviews, Yahoo, TripAdvisor, Yelp, City Search and any others that are beneficial to promote the business reputation of our clients. When a customer experience is bad, we warn the owner and give them the opportunity to correct the situation directly with that client before they go on to the social review site.

Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds

Founder is Geordie Wardman

Where are you based?

I am based in Sayulita, Mexico where I live on the beach with my family and surf 3 to 4 days a week (when there are waves!)

What’s the startup scene like where you are based?

There is none, and I have to form my own mastermind groups and accountability groups because I live in a very rural area of Mexico.

What problem do you solve?

The problem that I solve is only angry customers leave reviews, not good loyal customers because Good Service is expected. When a problem does arise, the owner is given notice of it BEFORE the customer complains on it on the social review sites. Previously, the owners only found out about customers problems AFTER the customers had left a scathing critique of an experience online, where it stays forever to detract future business prospects from checking their business. We are an alert system for business owners to stay in closer contact with their customers, so they can be proactive about their customer retention and relationships, and augment their online reputations.

What are some of the milestones your startup has already reached?

Funded development by pre-sales. Collected from 3 customers 12 months in advance revenues. Already achieved $4,000 per month in recurring revenues after 2 months of being live, with 40 customers and a 20-30% growth rate per month in new clients.

What are your next milestones?

100 clients and $10,000 in monthly recurring revenues by Jan 1, 2014.

Where can people find out more? Any social media links you want to share?,


Chicago Startup WeDeliver Puts A Winning Spin On Deliveries

WeDeliver, Chicago startup,startup interview, Chicago TechWeek

At first glance WeDeliver, a Chicago startup, looks like a hybrid between your typical delivery service and a courier service. That’s probably because it is, with a twist.

WeDeliver connects local businesses to their customers by providing same day delivery of products and goods. Sure delivery and courier services aren’t new, but crowdsourcing the service is.

WeDeliver takes on and vets delivery drivers who are looking for a little extra money delivering anything from clothing, flowers, and knick knacks, to small appliances, bicycles and other goods. The drivers use their own vehicles and are properly vetted by the company. Because they have a fleet of drivers with their own vehicles, WeDeliver is able to offer a wide range of delivery services from people who need something that will fit in a truck or a passenger seat, to something that needs a small van or small truck, and everything in between.

What sets them apart and positions WeDeliver for success is the hands on approach their founders and staff are taking. Where there are some apps that are trying to automate the process, they know that some human interaction needs to be involved for vetting, dispatching, and matching up deliveries, customers, and drivers.

Earlier this summer when we were at Chicago TechWeek, the crowd was buzzing for WeDeliver. They had about ten people with them and you could spot a WeDeliver shirt anywhere. They all talked up the service very well, to the point where it won the startup contest!

We got a chance to interview them, check out the interview below.

What is your startup called?


What does your company do?

WeDeliver connects local businesses (small and medium sized) to their customers by providing same-day delivery of products and goods.

Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds?

Kirk Lashley, Co-Founder, CTO

Kirk, a native of Trinidad and Tobago and tech entrepreneur determined to solve real world problems, was a grad and Dev Engineer at University-West Indies. Kirk has more than 15 years of professional software development experience and was the owner/operator of a Web design company in Trinidad. Currently, he’s an organizer for Startup Weekend Trinidad and Tobago and Startup Weekend Chicago. Kirk’s passionate about sharing his technology and entrepreneurship in these startup ecosystems.

Jimmy Odom, Founder, CEO
Jimmy is founder/CEO of WeDeliver and is responsible for the vision and business development of the company. He gained experience working for five years at an Apple store, as owner/operator of a gourmet pizza delivery service and at The Starter League. Jimmy is a serial entrepreneur at heart, and his mission is to build a brand whose primary focus is to create more transformational experiences rather than transactional ones.

Daniela Bolzmann, Co-Founder, CMO

Daniela, an entrepreneur with expertise in community development, was most recently Director of Product Marketing at SymbalooEDU. She grew it from a startup to a successful 200k community of engaged educators worldwide. Daniela is a graduate of the Miyahlo School of Business at CSUF and founder of SocialSkoop, a digital marketing agency. As co-founder/CMO at WeDeliver, she uses her powers to help businesses of Chicago connect with the local community.

Where are you based?


What’s the startup scene like where you are based?

Chicago is truly an amazing city with the unique ability to have both the intimacy of a small town and the “hustle and bustle” and power players of a large metro area. The Chicago tech and startup scene is underrated and can sometimes be overlooked in favor of the traditional startup cities. This has been an advantage to us though it is rapidly changing due to organizations like 1871, TechStars Chicago, The Starter League and people like Mayor Rahm Emanuel, JB Pritzker and Troy Henikoff, to name a few.

What problem do you solve?

We believe that our same-day on demand delivery technology will help local retailers gain a competitive edge against big box E-retailers, like Amazon, while also creating jobs and spurring local economic growth.

Why now?

Why not? The time is now for same-day delivery. The technology we are using for same-day delivery was not available previously. We are simply applying newer technology to an outdated courier industry that still runs off nextels and bad service.

What are some milestones your startup has already reached?

  • We won 1st place at Startup Weekend, November 2012
  • IBM Global Entrepreneur Mentor Day Winner, June 2013
  • We won Techweek Chicago LAUNCH, June 2013

What are your next milestones?

We are on track to have more than 250 merchants and more than 100 drivers by year’s end.

Where can people find out more? Any social media links you want to share?



Go IdeaCat Is Giving The Idea Marketplace Another Go

GoIdeaCat, New York startp, startup interview

Some out there believe an idea is only as good as its execution. We’ve profiled a number of startups that have tried to put some kind of spin on the idea marketplace, where you can go and sell an idea to someone else. We’ve even talked about how startup leaders like David Cohen of Techstars believes that the idea marketplace will never work, and for good reason.

Now, two bright entrepreneurs from a little town outside of New York City have decided to try that idea marketplace again. Jordyn Rikard and Kyle Jergensen have a startup called Go IdeaCat.

So why does this startup have a better chance to succeed?

First off it’s in the pricing. “Investors then place a starting bid of $5 and bids can rise up to $100! Once the bidding is over, the full idea is released to the investor and the idea creator gets their cash,” Rickard explains.

Previous iterations of this same idea have had the ideas on the marketplace for tens of thousands of dollars. In order to get that kind of money you need to be a proven, multimillionaire founder.

Rickard and Jergensen are targeting people who think they may have stumbled onto the next big idea but don’t have the time or know how to execute.

Will it work? Time will tell. In the meantime check out our interview with Rickard below.

What is your startup called?

Go IdeaCat

What does your company do?

Go IdeaCat is an idea sharing network that connects investors with individuals who have great ideas but not the time, resources, knowledge or money to make them a reality. A great idea should never go to waste. Users start by signing up and listing ideas for free. Ideas are kept a secret except for the category the idea falls under and then three specifics chosen by the user as a teaser to the main show. Investors then place a starting bid of $5 and bids can rise up to $100! Once the bidding is over, the full idea is released to the investor and the idea creator gets their cash.

Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds?

Kyle Jergensen and Jordyn Rickard are the founders of Go IdeaCat. Jordyn Rickard is a freelance writer and marketing guru that currently works full time for Kea Advertising, a full service marketing agency. She’s got the creative brains and the determination to take Go IdeaCat to the next level.

Kyle Jergensen is another creative mind with a degree in Economics and a background in business. He keeps the business on the ground and takes care of everything behind the scenes. Not to mention he has ideas flowing a mile a minute!

Where are you based?

We’re based out of Suffern, New York. A small suburb located just 30 minutes from NYC.

What problem do you solve?

We solve the problem of the dreaded dead end. It’s a bummer when someone has a great idea but can’t make it happen. What happens to the idea? It just sits there or gets forgotten about. By connecting motivated business minds direct with creative brains, we solve the problem of stifled creativity.

Why now?

Good ideas don’t wait. The world as a whole is evolving in every way and creative minds are everywhere. There are millions of great ideas that deserve to become a reality. The next great idea could benefit society as a whole. We just need to make it happen!

What are some of the milestones your startup has already reached?

We’ve just launched a teaser site to get the word out about Go IdeaCat while we work feverishly behind the scenes to get the real site up and running.

What are your next milestones?

Our next milestone will be the official launch of the site! Expected within the month.

Where can people find out more?

To find out more about GoIdeaCat head to 


Put Congress In Your Pocket With This Nashville Startup

PocketCongress, Nashville startup, startup interview

With smartphones in the pockets of tens of millions of people, information is extremely easy to obtain. You don’t even need to wait to get home to check something on the internet. You just reach into your pocket and hit Google or whatever your favorite information source is.

The information age, the internet age ,and now the mobile age has made government more accessible, and with that accessibility becomes accountability. Long gone are the days that any Congressman or other elected official can just sneak something passed the people.  When a bill is before Congress, voted on, or signed, you can find all the information about it online. You can look it up on your phone as well.

Now a Nashville Startup called PocketCongress is looking to streamline all that information into an easy-to-use app.  SouthernAlpha reports that David Swift was watching the news one night and wanted to look up further information on some legislation that was just reported on. He found the process of finding that information more cumbersome than he thought it should be. To make it easier he created PocketCongress.

We talk with Swift in the interview below.

What is your startup called?

Pocket Congress

What does your company do?

We are an easily accessible research tool for Congressional information. Search various ways in both legislation and legislator fields.

Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds

I, David Swift, am a local business owner in Nashville and am constantly looking to become more involved in the tech world. I concocted this idea in early 2011 and refined it over the next few years. In August of last year, I connected with an old high school classmate, Joey Vadala. Joey is a long-time techie and computer genius, even since the high school days. He’s built a few apps and I was impressed. Looking for someone who would build the app for profit equity AND pull off a simplistic, usable UI/UX, Joey was a great fit. Joey absolutely crushed the fine design details and construction of the app. I handle the business aspect of things, marketing, etc. and Joey is working on 2.0 for Pocket Congress.

Where are you based?

Nashville, TN

What’s the startup scene like where you are based?

Fantastic. There’s a lot of old money here, nearly all of it concentrated on the health care industry. That tide is slowly turning with all kinds of tech start ups popping up here and there. The new building of the Entrepreneur Center is magnifying a lot of start ups that wouldn’t get the attention otherwise.

What problem do you solve?

We solve the lack of true government transparency and the inability for the casual news-watcher to gather any real content on what’s being reported on their TV, what’s being voted on in their capital, and ultimately what’s affecting their lives on a daily basis. The entire concept of Pocket Congress is to further true government transparency and to aid in involving the casual political observer. The app is easy enough to navigate for a casual news watcher, but has enough information for a political junkie. The information is out there and is researchable, but not easily and quickly. Pocket Congress allows not only quick research & reference, but also tracking of legislation and social sharing of all information. Real government accountability and transparency must be done by the people, not the government.

Our app searches both Members and Legislation. In Members, one can search via: current location, name, ZIP code, committee, state, or browse. In Legislation, one can search via: HOT bills, number, locally sponsored, keyword, recent actions, and type. You can read actual legislation via .pdf. Anyone can interact with local senators and representatives by easily accessing their Twitter feed, biography, district map, committees, and all their social media outlets. One of my favorite features is the ability to tweet directly to a senator, send them an email, or call their office directly from the app.

Why now?

We need it now more than ever. (How many times have you heard that?) There are now more iPhone users in existence now than ever before. As a country, that’s more ready access than has ever been provided in the past. Never has Congressional members and the legislation they pass been so easy to access and share. Our phones are always with us, so an app is truly the timeliest way to access this type of information and a real vehicle for government transparency.

What are some of the milestones your startup has already reached?

We have been featured in SouthernAlpha’s blog. We are followed on Twitter by a few Washington Post journalists, and have been retweeted by Congressional members, most notably Darrell Issa. After being in the App Store for 5 days, Apple chose us as a New and Noteworthy app in the Reference section. We currently headline the Reference section in the App Store.

What are your next milestones?

A segment on Mike Huckabee on FOX. We have a connection to him particularly, as I worked with him personally on his last book signing tour over a course of three weeks. He’s a large government transparency advocate. We would then like to leverage that appearance to other media outlets, including other politically-charged TV shows.

Where can people find out more? Any social media links you want to share?


iTunes short URL:

Joey’s personal page:




Is This Brazilian Startup The YouTube Of Books?

WidBook, Brazilian startup, startup interview

The publishing industry is ripe for a disruption, and many of them. The traditional music industry where we used to buy records, tapes, and CD’s has been all but replaced by digital media. Many predicted that books would always be safe. People love the touch, the feel, and the smell of actual books.

Now Borders is gone, Barnes and Noble has shut down many of their stores, and the mom and pop shops are drying up. It’s unfortunate for readers. But just like in the music industry, it leaves a gaping hole for disruption. Everything from distribution, to consumption, to the publishing of digital books is all open terrain for the right startups.

One Memphis startup, Screwpulp,  is well on their way to disrupting the self publishing model with their unique platform that calls for feedback in exchange for free books.

Brazilian startup Widbook is a digital collaborative reading and writing platform where authors can improve their writing, publish books online for free, and solicit feedback and work together with fellow members. It was launched in June 2012 and was instantly described by Mashable as “The Youtube of Books.” The platform recently reached a milestone 30,000 members and has over 1,100 published books with thousands being written.

We got a chance to talk with the team behind Widbook, check out the interview below.

Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?

FLAVIO AGUIAR Co-founder and CEO at Widbook

Early career

• Founded Digitale.XY2 digital agency, a company headquartered in Campinas and São Paulo that has for 10 years worked with the planning of digital marketing, digital presence and consultancy.

• Was head of the merging process with Attitude Global group, one of the biggest commutation groups in the world.

• Has worked in the software development market as system analyst and participated in the official process of implementation and assessment of the CMMi methodology.

• MBA in Strategic & Economic Business Management from Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV) and Ohio University in the U.S.


Co-founder and COO at Widbook

Early career

• Founded Digitale.XY2 digital agency, company headquartered in Campinas and São Paulo that has for 10 years worked with the planning of digital marketing, digital presence and consultancy.

• Was ahead of the merging process with Attitude Global group, one of the biggest commutation groups in the world.

• He has been one of the directors of APADi – Associação Paulista das Agências Digitais (São Paulo Association of Digital Agencies) since 2010.

• MBA in Strategic & Economic Business Management from Fundação GetúlioVargas (FGV) and Ohio University in the U.S.


Co-founder and CTO at Widbook

Early career

• More than 13 years of experience as web developer and project manager

• Was the chief systems architect of e-Commerce of Fnac Brasil ( and was responsible for its entire system development and support team.

• He participated in the official process of implementation and assessment of the CMMi methodology and was responsible for the study and implementation of several other technologies in others companies.

What’s the startup scene like in Brazil?

The company is based in Brazil, but plans a move to the U.S. in the future. The platform is virtual and has a presence in over 200 countries worldwide (with 60 percent of its users from the U.S.). The startup scene in Brazil is fairly new compared to the U.S. but it’s growing quickly. The government is starting to offer programs to support startups and lots of well-known events, like TED Global and the MIT Global Startup Workshop, are coming to Brazil.

What problem do you solve?

The publishing industry receives hundreds of thousands of manuscripts/book submissions each year and only a small fraction are reviewed, and even fewer accepted. Widbook offers members the opportunity to bypass the publishing house and publish their work quickly easily (while also getting valuable feedback from other members).

Why now?

The ebook industry is positioned to expand beyond the print book market by 2017 (driving $8.2 billion in sales by then). Widbook wants to offer more than just a platform for self-publishing; it wants to be the place where people go to read and write ebooks for free and collaborate and network with other members.

What are some of the milestones your startup has already reached?

Dec. 2012 – Investments secured by W7 Brazil Capital

Feb. 2013 – Widbook 2.0 released

May 2013 – Widbook team attended NYC’s Book Expo America

June 2013 – Widbook CEO attended START Series event START SF (an invite-only gathering of 150 early stage startups and entrepreneurs)

July 2013 – 30,000 members reached

What are your next milestones?

The iOS app is in the works and set to be released soon (Android app is already available for download), and we hope to be at 50,000 members in the very near future.

Where can people find out more?

Widbook on Facebook

 Read this: How to nail your next VC Pitch


Founder Spotlight: Matt Ehrlichman CEO & Co-Founder, Porch

Porch, Seattle Startup, Guest Post, Startup Interview, YEC Founder SpotlightMatt Ehrlichman is the CEO of Porch, where you can get inspired by the best home projects your neighbors have completed, see what any home project will cost, and find the best service professional your neighbors and friends recommend. Previous to Porch, Matt was a founder and CEO of Thriva (acquired by ACTV) and Chief Strategy Officer of Active Network (2011 IPO). Matt lives in Seattle, WA. Follow him @mattehrlichman.

Who is your hero? 

My personal hero is Pete Carroll. My business hero is Warren Buffett.

What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?

No one will ever remember how much money you made or what your title was. They will only remember you for how you changed and impacted the world in a durable way. Because of this, I am on a mission to build a truly great company that improves the world one household at a time with Porch.

What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?

The first company I ever started was a sports summer camp in Western Washington at age 14; later, I needed to transition the camp into new leadership. With the change in leadership, the camp failed to continue. Had I known better, I would have worked harder at diligently finding the best way to balance not only the camp sustainability but a successful exit as well.

What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?

I methodically organize my week to make sure I provide appropriate attention to our key efforts: management, consumer growth, product, marketing, and sales. During the first hour of each day, I speak with the respective discipline leader (walk and talks). We go over priorities and execution, and I roll up my sleeves to dig into subject matter challenges.

What’s your best financial or cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?

Entrepreneurs by nature make mistakes and take opportunistic risks. We track key financials and metrics that provide us with health and appeal for investors. The only one that matters at the end of the day is your last day. Keep strong watch on your cash runway end date, and ensure that you know what the date is with no revenue as well as with conservative estimates.

Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?

Turn the tables and ask your employees to give you a 360 review!

What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?

Success to me is building a truly great company that solves a really big problem. I will know that I am successful if I build a company that delights customers, creates beautiful experiences, helps millions of small businesses, and forms a culture and team passionate about embarking on a joint mission.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.


Columbus Entrepreneurs Sparking Innovation With Sundown Rundown Events

SundownRundown, Columbus startups, startup events, startup interview

With a name like Paul Proffitt, it’s easy to picture this Columbus-based entrepreneur helping people make money. He just wants to make sure it’s done the entrepreneurial way. In an interview Proffitt told us that he’s been a lurker in Columbus, Ohio’s tech community since the 90’s, when he worked with the now defunct Talon New Media Ventures and OnVentures incubators. Since then Proffitt has been working in higher-ed and digital marketing.

In 2006 though, he got re-bitten by the entrepreneurial bug when his team took second place at the OSU business plan competition for a biodiesel startup. Nowadays you can find Proffitt at Columbus State Community College where he is an adjunct faculty member and being a judge and mentor for the OSU Business Plan Competition. With all that experience Proffit wanted to do something even more.

Proffitt has created a monthly pitch focused startup event called Sundown Rundown. These aren’t business card pushing events. Sundown Rundown calls for 5 minute pitches with 5 minutes of feedback, and startups are vetted in advance. Sundown Rundown connects investors, mentors, and talent across the Columbus region.

We got a chance to talk with Proffitt about Sundown Rundown.

What does your company do?

We are a monthly evening business idea pitch event series that connects entrepreneurs with investors, mentors, and talent to help get their companies to the next step.

Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds

Paul Proffitt – A lurker in the Central Ohio Entrepreneurship scene since the late 1990s who had worked with now defunct Columbus based incubators Talon New Media Ventures and OnVentures. Got bit by the entrepreneurial bug in 2006 when his team took second place at the OSU Business Plan Competition for a biodiesel startup. Besides having full-time gigs in higher-ed and in digital marketing, he spends his remaining professional time being an adjunct faculty member at Columbus State Community College and acts as a judge and mentor for the OSU Business Plan Competition.

What’s the startup scene like in Columbus?

Its growing. There was some progress in the late 1990s, but the dot com bubble forced a reboot in the early 2000s. The state figured they needed to diversify their economy and created the Third Frontier Fund and state money backed, private non-profit incubators started popping up.

At best the startup scene is fragmented. A lot of attention is paid to those low investment, potential high return software based startups and capital intensive, long development medical and bio tech. Nothing solid right now in the middle, small to mid-sized business startups.

What problem do you solve?

Trying to defragment the scene and get a self-sustaining community running in Central Ohio to help bring good business ideas to the forefront regardless of their industry.

Why now?

It feels right… if you take your shoes off and stand in the grass you can feel the karma starting to align in Central Ohio… it could go good or bad at this point… say the same set of factors happen around the 2000s. I kind of want to help put Central Ohio in a position this time for something good to happen and not have another reboot that will take another 15 years to get to another make or break point.

What are some of the milestones your startup has already reached?

We’ve established credibility in the Central Ohio entrepreneurial community as something that can be trusted to give people a fair shake at getting an idea out into the community. Showing we don’t play favorites for people who come in and pitch. We’ve got an audience that shows up and we have interest in people wanting to pitch their ideas each month.

What are your next milestones?

Keep growing…. The bar we hold the event at holds, 150 people. We would love to have to find a bigger place at some point.

Get funding for this events. We do it on a shoestring and right now the rental for the space is the biggest cost.

Where can people find out more?

Checkout this huge national startup event in Cincinnati Ohio.










Los Angeles Startup Treats Amateur Athletes Like Superstars

Sportifik, Startups, startup interview, California startup

A brand new startup in West Los Angeles is hoping to make amateur sport players feel like superstars, giving them the tools that they need to organize and manage their sports leagues, pick up games, and teams. With Sportifik the founders want amateur athletes to have fun, meet new people, and keep up with sports that often fall to the wayside.

Still a little over two weeks away from launch, the team behind Sportifik is “throwing the pigskin around,” meaning they’re putting the finishing touches on their platform and making sure it’s ready for the after work league and the local pick up game.

In the meantime we got to talk with Marco Franzoni, Sportifik’s co-founder and CEO about this new twist on sports.


What is your startup called?

Our startup is called Sportifik. A mix between sports and fantasterrific, only with a k.

What does your company do?

We are creating a global community of athletes and changing the way people participate in sports. We are providing amateur athletes and avid sports fans with the best means to easily organize and manage their sporting activities through a user friendly one-stop-shop mobile and web solution. Our platform will enable users to seamlessly organize sports games in a fun and rewarding way while enabling them to meet members of their local communities who share a passion for the same sport.

Our goal is to push new boundaries, make any game feel like a national championship, and make every amateur player feel like a superstar.

Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds

We are three co-founders and friends.

Marco, our CEO, is an all-around athlete hailing from Italy with a consulting background. He’s the soul of this operation. It’s his inspiration and drive that brought us together in a common belief that sports should be uniting people.

Josh, our CTO, is an avid golfer with various experiences in web development and startups. He’s the heart of the operation as he is the one keeping us going (as well as the most important person in our lives today).

Chris, our head of biz dev, is passionate about all sports and comes from investment banking and social enterprise backgrounds. He’s the brain at Sportifik – not in that he’s intelligent but he makes sure everything is running correctly and logically.

Where are you based?

We’re currently based in West LA where we think the outdoors environment is the best to start an active sports venture.

What’s the startup scene like where you are based?

Pretty amazing. For years the LA and Santa Monica startup scene have been growing. It’s a phenomenal environment of smart dedicated people who are always looking to help each other out. We’ve been really fortunate to kick things off on the shores of Silicon Beach.

What problem do you solve?

We solve the problem of having to spend copious amounts of times and several different platforms to organize sports games. We spent too much time every week trying to get people together at the same spot to play soccer or basketball for games that would inevitably get canceled anyway. We thought there’s a better solution out there.

Why now?

People are becoming more active and mobile and at the same time we’re busier than ever with a ton of different things to do. Finding the time for collective sports games has become harder but they’re no less important in our lives.

What are some of the milestones your startup has already reached?

We launched a beta product in April and collected a bunch of early adopters. We’re re-launching on the 31st of August (join us for our launch party through our website!).

We’ve also created a promotional clip to feature the community and outreach aspects of what we do. This includes supporting our friends who have a wheelchair basketball team and are looking to raise money for their upcoming season. If you are interested in helping Alvin and his team, get in touch with him at

Finally, we’ve established an informal sports hierarchy internally. Josh is our golf master, Chris rules the ping pong table and Marco does pretty much everything damn well.

What are your next milestones?

Launching (see above)! We’re looking to get as many users as possible starting in West LA and the UCLA community and expanding as soon as possible to the rest of LA. We’re going to be looking to partner with local sports leagues, stores and venues to offer a more comprehensive service to our users and drive local businesses.

Where can people find out more? Any social media links you want to share?

Follow us on Facebook (, Twitter (, WordPress (, and youtube (