Start-up love-in at White Bull proves cooperation lives

Jaumo Baro Toress, at Activa, responsible for business strategy and finance, claimed confidently that 80 percent of startups coached and encouraged by, had made it after four years trading – an impressive figure.

We were down there courtesy of White Bull 2011, to sit in on a session where seven mentors constructively criticised 12 start-ups five minutes pitches. All of them were very interesting in their own way.  The aim was not to demolish the start-ups, but to encourage them to present to investors who would get the best out of possibly one minute pitches tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow.

Compared with the Dragon’s Den and its precursor, the Etre Conference, it was all very civilised indeed. We are here because we’re interested in the circus – no blood was shed, this White Bull 2011 conference here is intended to instruct, not to hector, not to shout, not to diminish; to promote constructive dialogues. We were down dirty in 22@.

We were interested so much in the circus – the combo of startups and investors meeting each other for the first time. This session, which lasted quite a long time, down at 22@, was intended to introduce 12 startups to seven angels or investors – a sure recipe for success. Because TechEye is an independent site, we decided to rate the startups  – obviously from our point of view – on what we thought of their ideas. We are grateful to Farley Duvall and White Bull for letting us sit on this. We kept our gob shut.

First-up, or perhaps it should be firstup, Was Dexma Sensors – John Blaisi spoke for four point 40 minutes on his idea. The group turned over a respectable amount of money in its first year.  Swiftly following was Encap – Thomas Jorgenson, a Norwegian we met last night is working on a top secret solution for mobile banking and more. We suspect he already has some banks sewn up into his rather cunning scheme. The Norwegian Bank has already endorsed his system and as Norway is the most fluid country in Northern Europe, we suspect this has legs already and is running.

Third was JobsAndTalent, which uses Facebook to allow people to socialise on the web. It is a job hunting application which uses Facebook. It’s turning over Euro 800,000 so is obviously a force in the market. Fourth was mytri.bes with Paul Hayes – no not Paul Hales – pitching. This Aussie guy had an interesting pitch – he wants to connect using GPS and live location serving where your friends are. Obviously you don’t always want to know where your friends are in space and time, so the app can delimit stuff by certain parameters, including time and space.

Fifth up startup came NicePeopleAtWork – heck we all hope for that, don’t we? Otto Wust  offers live on demand video and a lot of old-fashioned publishers seem to want his stuff.

Then the very nice Luke Miller from Offset Options, nurtured in the incubator, yeah it’s hot, Barcelona – a company nurtured by Activa in its premises in 22@. This is all about carbon offsetting – his customers include an impressive list including Citibank, ANZ and Amex. ANZ is impressive, Luke told us while we were waiting for more coffee that it is a goer.

Prodcast experienced some resistance from the mentors. The very lovely Edouard Gasser said his app was based on friend recommendations via Twitter and Facebook. Your friends, he said, value recommendations and reviews when they’re offered on FB. The affiliate model delivers $5 per sold review. The mentors weren’t sure. He was invited to think again. This is a love-in, not Dragon’s Den. The start-ups don’t get shredded.

Next up was Screach – pronounced Screech, or Banshi where I come from. CEO Paul Rawlings in a very broad northern accent- to me that’s the south because I come from Scotland, got serious grief from the investor mentors because his deal with Wembley and Fox News, as well as the profitability of his company were hardly up there in his slide deck. But we voted him 4/5, cos this one is obviously a winner. His slide deck showed that not only the Sun but the Guardian needs him means that he’s a winner. Publications are

Skybus, next up, was an interesting case that the mentors failed to get completely. It is a transportation paradigm and us non drivers need one of those. He didn’t have Powerpoint slides which, one mentor said, was to his credit. Basically the idea is to soak up unused transportation and save municipalities gazillions. More is less.

Tribe of Note is a tribe of note because Nederlands man Hessel van Oorscht has a vision. His vision is to combine the world of music with the interworld of the internet and save us all gazillions. The music royalty fees are all screwed up and his Powerpoint presentation was received very well by the Seven Mentors of Hell. He admitted to us later the licensing model was a bit borked. I told him us journalists use wikimedia commons these days. He didn’t appear in the slightest bit surprised.

Then came on Custodian with his five minute pitch. It is a mobile marketing pitch and makes quite a lot of money, far as I can tell. But because he didn’t have a Powerpoint presentation, one or two of the possible investors didn’t bite. The exception was mentor Ashley, who said that he really admired non Powerpoint pitches. Ashley was very diplomatic, but sub rosa I think he was saying personality vs powerpointless was everything.

Publitas, we will come back to them later in the person of Guillarmo Sanchez, the CEO made some mistakes. made no mistakes. Apart from one. He is only looking for 40K Euro. His application is great, he should put a factor of 10X on that.

NicePeopleAtWork, run by Otto Wust, the CEO is a really interesting company. You can find out what it’s on about, here. Offset Option, described by one mentor as one of the good guys, has loads of clients that spend good money. It is profitable. We mentioned it earlier.

Prodcast is a difficult model to assess. Its CEO Edoard Gasser clearly has a vision with his notion of product reviews on Facebook, by your friends. Screach – Paul Rawlings the CEO of the firm says Screach should be a verb. But to Google is neutral, while to screech is like being the Irish banshee. We haven’t had a chance to talk to Rawlings yet – a banshee seems to be protecting him from us.

Now we must perforce go commingle with the crowd. This is not the Castle of Despair, White Bull 2011 is an optimistic lot. Tomorrow we will try talk about the mentors.