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Entertaining Entrepreneurship

VV Show #27 – Following Entrepreneurs at DEMO 2006

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When a startup launches its first product, should it expect a lot of fanfare? It should if it launches at DEMO before an audience of hundreds that includes some of the nation’s top journalists and venture capitalists (not to mention Venture Voice). DEMO is a two-day conference, held in Phoenix this time around, that features about 70 never-before-seen technology products. Most of the products come from scrappy startups. We follow two of those startups through the process, Sproutit and Sharpcast. Along the way we’ll talk to countless other entrepreneurs on the floor and some people who came to pick companies to cover or invest in. We covered this event last year (part 1part 2) and followed VideoEgg, which was recently funded by the venture capitalist we introduced them to on that show. Let’s see what happens to Sproutit and Sharpcast.

Show notes:

:30 Covered VideoEgg last year; it got funded by David Hornik of August Capital

1:35 DEMO took place in Phoenix, Arizona

1:50 Introduction to Charles Jolley about of Sproutit

    • “Mailroom answers e-mail, which is a pain that a lot of people feel – they’re [customers] willing to give us five minutes of their time just to see if it works.”
    • “We’re an Internet company. You can do this from anywhere. Let’s put our money where our mouth is. So we moved to Prague.”
    • “Go to Prague, save your money, so you can come party out in Phoenix for a few days and meet lots of press.”
  • DEMO Superbowl party including The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg.

10:15 Introducing Gibu Thomas of Sharpcast

    • Former company was acquired by Handspring, which is now part of Palm.
    • “In those days it’s just you holding each other up.”
    • “Entrepreneurship is often the triumph of passion over reason.”
  • “The Treo didn’t become successful with multimillion dollars in marketing. It became successful because enthusiasts got the product and told other people about it.”

16:15 Introducing Mike Brown of Partech International

    • “If we sell the company some day it will be enough to buy a small Korean automobile.”
    • “Bootstrapping is not fun.”
  • “Not having a lot of money actually bring a lot of disciplined to companies.”

19:00 Andrew Graham from Bones in Motion

  • “We were on our third script when we realized we need to be true to the product. And it’s a storytelling product.”

20:35 Andrew Wright from Smilebox

  • “If I had it to do over again I maybe wouldn’t have raised my round two weeks ago because I’ve had a lot of interest here today and I probably could have gotten a higher price… or… well, who knows.”

22:10 Oliver Starr of MobileCrunch

    • “If you’ve covering technology and you’re not at DEMO, I think you’ve blown it.”
    • “These is a phenomenon with these Web 2.0 companies, which many of these are, that they’re not built to be stand-alone enterprises. They’re built to be acquired by Google or Yahoo or perhaps even Microsoft.”
  • “One is built to alter the entrepreneur’s pocketbook and the other one is built to alter the world.”

24:15 Mike from Partech on building companies to be big vs. acquired

26:10 Munjal Shah from Riya

    • “I can’t really talk about them [getting acquired by Google].”
  • “We’re all too lazy to really tag. You need some auto tagging solution.”

27:30 Evan Rifkin and Fred Krueger from TagWorld

    • “Very similar in spirit to MySpace.”
  • “You want one place to store all of this stuff [photos, bookmarks, video, etc.].”

29:30 Sproutit at the pavilion

  • “Beer was only 72 cents back in Prague.”

31:00 Sproutit on stage

    • “What if your sales guy is in Belize on a scuba trip?”
  • “What are you going to do with all that time?”

37:00 Sharpcast on stage

  • “So many people complain to me about how difficult it is to get a picture off their camera phone. With Sharpcast, it’s about to get simple.”

43:45 Sharpcast debrief

  • “Ultimately it’s the product that’s going to speak for itself.”

45:30 Sproutit

  • “Actually, we were rewriting it [the script] this morning.”

47:00 Mike from Partech on investing in the companies at DEMO

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